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Exterior view: main entrance to Darwin building; external feature: Perspex Garden, by Richard Beal 1967

Discover contemporary approaches to curating archives and collections of art and design, with leading curators, archivists and researchers, live online.

Key details

  • Full price: £820
  • Live Online

    4 sessions over 2 weeks

    2023 dates to be announced soon

    Maximum 25 participants

The Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Archives and Collections Intensive offers an exploration of the latest curatorial approaches to working creatively and critically with archives and collections. Drawing upon contemporary developments in curatorial thinking and practice, this course asks how archives and collections invite experimental approaches, rethinking what it means to produce knowledge using objects, images, and diverse forms of documentation.

Archives and collections of art and design present complex configurations of material culture. As sites of individual and collective memory, they allow us to explore our relationship to time through the artefacts and ephemeral traces of the past, present and future. Rather than serving as static repositories, archives and collections offer creative opportunities for curatorial interaction, collaborative investigation, and trans-disciplinary experimentation. Through critical modes of engagement with archives and collections, established histories can be troubled and re-interrogated through the lens of the current moment. By bringing the residues of the past into dialogue with the present, alternative narratives can be constructed and urgent new questions can be articulated.

This online course invites you to explore different curatorial modalities and to test experimental approaches through interactive sessions. During the course, you will engage directly with the RCA Special Collections, which holds distinctive, rare and unique materials, including archives, photographic collections, artworks and rare books. Taking the form of an expanded workshop, the programme features curatorial research exercises; object ‘handling’ activities; guided visual analysis; and conversations that pose questions about interpretation, mediation, classification and display practices. Throughout the course, curatorial research, theory and practice are taught as symbiotic methods for investigating the contents and structures of archives and collections.

Through the Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Archives and Collections Intensive you will encounter experimental approaches from across the sector, presented by leading curators, archivists and researchers working in different organisational contexts, including museums, galleries, studios, archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions. The programme combines analytical debate with practical activities, taught from the world’s leading art and design university and delivered online in an interactive learning environment.

The course is led by Dr Rosie Ram, Visiting Lecturer in MA Curating Contemporary Art and Course Leader of the Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Theory and Practice Summer School, and Dr Ben Cranfield, Senior Tutor in MA Curating Contemporary Art. It is delivered by tutors from across the School of Arts and Humanities as well as invited guests from leading institutions.

New invited guest speakers announced!

Applications are now closed.


Listen again to the IN SESSION talk: Contemporary Pasts: Curating Archives and Collections for the Present with Ben Cranfield, Patrick Flores & Rosie Ram that took place on 19 October 2022 | 12.00–1.00pm BST.

About the course

Taking the form of an expanded workshop spread across four half-day sessions, the course will investigate different approaches to curating archives and collections from the contemporary art and design sector.

Each day, you will build your knowledge and skills by engaging in workshop-based activities, presentations and discussions with leading curators, archivists and researchers.

As well as developing your individual approach, you will be offered opportunities to work collaboratively in small groups, learning to think collectively while developing your own skills and voice. Interactive sessions are delivered by tutors from across the School of Arts and Humanities as well as invited guests, providing tailored support and stimulation.

Benefits include:

  • Developing your understanding of archives and collections by engaging with the contemporary curatorial thinking and practice
  • Exploring a range of art and design disciplines in international contexts, taking curatorial approaches to archives and collections as a focus
  • Access to curators, archivists, researchers and historians,
  • Support from the RCA's faculty of experts and visiting speakers
  • Learning in a collaborative, highly dynamic atmosphere through an interdisciplinary approach
  • Interaction and peer-to-peer networking with an international cohort of fellow participants
  • Certificate of online attendance

You will learn:

  • Innovative research methodologies for engaging with archives and collections
  • About current debates around archives and collections by engaging with the curatorial discourse and with a variety of perspective from sector-leading professionals
  • About the latest developments in contemporary curatorial practice by encountering a range of curated programmes and displays from different institutions
  • How archival and collections-based projects are conceived, researched and presented across different curatorial formats
  • How to develop your own curatorial thinking and practice
  • How to work collaboratively

Learning takes place through an interactive programme, comprising four half-days. Each features at least two sessions, comprising three-and-a-half hours of live engagement.

These sessions feature:

  • Presentations
  • Workshops
  • Encounters with curatorial projects and institutions
  • Support and advice from subject experts
  • Collaborative group work and discussion

In these sessions, participants are taught as a group and work in smaller teams. The sessions are delivered by RCA tutors and invited experts, including curators, archivists, researchers and cultural practitioners. Over the central weekend, you will be invited to develop a curatorial project proposal.

The course is led by Dr Rosie Ram, Visiting Lecturer in MA Curating Contemporary Art and Course Leader of the Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Theory and Practice summer school, and Dr Ben Cranfield, Senior Tutor in MA Curating Contemporary Art. It is delivered by tutors from across the School of Arts and Humanities as well as invited guests from leading institutions.

New invited guest speakers announced!

Disclaimer: The list of contributors is subject to change depending on availability.

The course is organised in synchronous sessions in a live virtual environment that combines various digital platforms and tools.


Using the videoconferencing service Zoom, RCA tutors and invited experts deliver a mix of:

  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • Workshops
  • Collaborative group work and group discussion
  • In-depth feedback through ‘crits’
  • Project development and presentations
  • Participants interact with the faculty and peers in breakout rooms in real time


Participants engage in cross-functional team work with the use of visual collaboration tools.

Through the online whiteboard platform Miro, participants get to:

  • interact with various formats and templates
  • plan and brainstorm ideas
  • create processes and workshop activities in the digital workspace.


The College's learning platform Moodle is personalised according to the course's requirements to provide participants with a secure integrated system where they can access the course content.

The hub hosts a plethora of useful resources to enable the learning experience, including comprehensive timetables, pre-reading materials, course slides, curated videos, tutorials and session recordings.


Participants stay connected and communicate via the channel-based messaging platform Slack throughout the whole duration of the course.

In this space, the academics, facilitators and delegates get to network, plan the course activities, share documents and files during the live sessions or offline.

You will come away from this course with:

  • An appreciation of current debates around archives and collections in the context of art and design curating
  • An understanding of curatorial research methodologies for working with archives and collections
  • Insights into different approaches to curating archives and collections across different modes of curatorial practice
  • Creative and critical skills for developing your independent thinking and practice
  • Experience working collaboratively on curatorial activities
  • An understanding of the process of conceiving and developing archival and collections-based curatorial projects

  • Art and design graduates
  • Archivists, curators and arts programmers
  • Museum and gallery professionals
  • Artists and designers
  • Writers
  • Researchers
  • Early and mid-career professionals and creative practitioners from across the cultural sector


Application deadlines 2022

  • Participants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limited.
  • We will start accepting applications from May 2022.
  • Applications will be assessed by the RCA course team every 2 weeks until November 2022 or until the course is fully booked.
  • We will inform all applicants by email within two weeks after they submit an application about whether or not they have been successful.
  • Unfortunately we do not provide further feedback information.
  • If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list.

How will I know that my place is confirmed?

The offer of a place will only be secured and confirmed when the RCA receives 100 per cent of the course fee payment. Places are secured on a first-come basis on receipt of appropriate payment.

How can I pay for the course?

The course needs to be paid in full by one instalment and via the online payment system using a debit or credit card. Once you are offered a place on the course you will receive a secure online booking link. Please complete the registration and booking process to make the booking. Please ensure that you are using the most up to date version of your internet browser. We regret that it is not possible to pay the course fee by instalments.


Contact us

Get in touch with Jo Chounta if you'd like to find out more about this or any of our other short courses.

Email us at
[email protected]
Executive Education Team