Museum Paper Assignment

Exhibition Review

Download PDF of Museum Paper Assignment here

Papers are due in class Thursday, November 29

You must submit 2 copies (one hard copy and one electronic)! Attach entrance stub/receipt to paper copy. Submit a digital copy to

Your paper should be 4 double-spaced pages (4 pages does not mean a 3-page paper plus cover), 1” margins, 12-point type (Please use Arial, Helvetica or Times).

BEFORE YOU START, please do the following:

  1. define for yourself what a curator is and does, and
  2. locate the correct exhibition that you wish to review (ask a museum guard for help if you cannot find the exhibit)

Write a review of the exhibition based on your interpretation and analysis. A key element of this review will be to determine the goal of the curators in putting the exhibition together and then to evaluate the extent to which the curators were successful in achieving this goal. This means you must examine the exhibition carefully. Don’t simply walk through the exhibition. In order to critique the show, you should devote enough time to read all the wall texts, to view each work of art carefully, and become conscious of how you and other visitors interact with the works of art and exhibition space. The review should analyze the organization, design, themes, and issues raised in the show. How is the theme of the exhibition conveyed through the objects, design, and subsidiary text (i.e., the wall labels)?

Choose ONE of the following exhibitions to review.

— Museum of Modern Art: Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 (July 29–Nov 5)
Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone, 1955–1972 (Oct 7-Jan 28)
Tokyo 1955-1970 (Nov 18-Feb 25)
*closed Tues, FREE with CUNY student ID,

— MoMA PS1 (in Long Island City, Queens): Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980 (Oct 21-Mar 11)
*closed Tues and Weds, FREE with CUNY student ID,

— Whitney Museum of American Art: Richard Artschwager! (Oct 25-Feb 25)
•closed Mon and Tues, FREE with CUNY student ID,

— Metropolitan Museum of Art: Regarding Warhol Sixty Artists, Fifty Years (Sept 18-Dec 31) or George Bellows (Nov 15-Feb 18)
*closed Mon, $12 recommended admission,

— Hunter College/Leubsdorf Art Gallery at 68th St: Times Square Show Revisited (Sept 14-Dec 8) *closed Sun and Mon, free admission,

— NYU/Grey Art Gallery: Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore (Sept 6-Dec 8) *closed Sun and Mon, $3 suggested contribution,

— Bronx Museum of Art: Urban Archives: The Rituals of Chaos (Jul 19-Jan 6)
*closed Mon–Weds, free admission,

Your review should give the reader an overall impression of the exhibition and your responses to it. Please do not be afraid to take a critical stand but be sure to justify your opinions. Do not simply express an opinion, you must explain why. Most importantly, I am interested in your personal review of the show. If you quote other reviews, be sure to cite your sources, otherwise you are plagiarizing someone else’s work.

Address the following questions in your paper:
• What were the curator’s objectives for the show?
• Is the organization of the exhibition logical?
• Were materials in the exhibition presented in an appealing fashion? How did the design shape the visitor’s experience of the exhibition?
• What was emphasized, and how? and what impact does that have on the visitor?
• How effective were the displays (i.e., tables in the middle of the rooms)? Did they add or detract from the visitor’s viewing of the art?
• What do you think could be improved or changed?
• What images affected you?
— Choose 2 images to describe in detail: write a one-paragraph description for each image. Describe the work thoroughly so that a new visitor can pick out your work without having to read the wall labels
• Were you impressed or disappointed?
• Lastly, you must address how this exhibition contributes to your knowledge of the history of art.

Please do not simply summarize what you saw. You must write a review that presents a critical analysis of the exhibition. Start with a thesis about how you plan to interpret the exhibition then provide a short introductory paragraph that outlines the show giving your reader enough enticing information to continue reading your review. Be selective! Please do not feel compelled to address everything that was included in the exhibition. Use analysis of specific works to support your argument and assertions. This is not a research paper, therefore, do not include more than one paragraph on the biography of individual artists.

Your grade is based on how thorough and how well your review is written and supported.

Please note: you must make sure that you select one of the above exhibitions to review. Unless you have made previous arrangements to review another exhibition, the highest possible grade for failing to follow the paper directions is a C.

To “plagiarize” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

Take and use as one’s own (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc., of another person); copy (literary works, ideas, etc.) improperly or without acknowledgment; pass off the thoughts, work, etc., of (another person) as one’s own. [Lesley Brown, ed., The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 2 vols. (Oxford: 1993), 2:2231]

If you do additional research for the essay, you must cite all sources for your work, not just books and articles but also internet and non-traditional media sources. If you have any doubts or questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please do not hesitate to ask me in class, in office hours or via e-mail.

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