How Institutions Think: The Bard Seminar

Monday 26 October 2015

2pm to 5pm, Room C303, Central Saint Martins

Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA, UK

For all students on the MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and MRes Art: Exhibition Studies programmes and open to Stage 3 students in BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, to doctoral students across CSM and welcoming invited guests.

In November 2014, Central Saint Martins collaborated with international partners on a symposium about curatorial and exhibition studies, which took place at Bard College in the US. Please investigate the recordings of this event online here:


This academic year there will be a follow-up symposium – at the LUMA Foundation in Arles, South of France, 25 to 28 February 2016 – looking at institutions for contemporary art historically and as a future proposition. In preparation, this October seminar will reflect on the short book that gives its name to both events: How Institutions Think (1986) by Mary Douglas.


In How Institutions Think, Mary Douglas writes as an anthropologist, considering institutions in general as a social phenomenon to be analysed and understood. Please familiarize yourself with the book before coming to the seminar and be ready to discuss how we might take up its insights into current thinking about institutions for contemporary art. A week ahead of the class, you will be assigned a specific chapter of the book to prepare in particular.


This seminar will be jointly led by:

  • Michaela Giebelhausen, Course Leader for BA Culture, Criticism and Curation
  • Alison Green, Course Leader for MA Culture, Criticism and Curation
  • Yaiza Hernández, co-Pathway Leader for MRes Art: Exhibition Studies
  • Lucy Steeds, co-Pathway Leader for MRes Art: Exhibition Studies


Those attending the seminar will become eligible to apply for a scholarship to visit Arles for the February symposium. Interested applicants will be asked to explain what questions they would take to the event and how it would fit within their research and career plans. One scholarship across the 3 courses – BA Culture, Criticism and Curation; MA Culture, Criticism and Curation; and MRes Art: Exhibition Studies – will be awarded.


CSM’s partners for the ‘How Institutions Think’ symposium in Arles in 2016 are:

  • Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson
  • De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam
  • Goldsmiths College, London
  • LUMA Foundation, Arles
  • V-A-C Foundation, Moscow
  • Valand Art Academy, University of Gothenburg


PLEASE REGISTER your intention to take part in the seminar: simply email your name and affiliation (e.g. BA CCC, MA CCC, MRes ES) to Karina Lee ( by Friday 16 October