Curatorship: Contemporary Perspectives

Code: AHVS488J
Apply this course towards: Cultural Resource Management, Visitor and Community Engagement, Collections Management

Course description

Curatorship: Contemporary Perspectives reflects our growing understanding of the important relationships that exist between museums and their constituents. Museums and other public exhibition sites of all disciplines, sizes and settings are not only mirrors of society but also play influential roles. As societies change, these sites become zones of contestation in which notions of popular and high culture, old and new technologies, science and art, race and gender, individuals and communities interact. They can develop into arenas for important public debates about the definition and creation of a good society.

Museums are no longer expected simply to be civilizing sites of knowledge where the information flows in one direction; they are now places of dialogue where the visiting public and community partners are invited to bring their own perspectives and expertise into the learning and sharing process. Within the museum arena, these perspectives, beliefs and ways of doing things can either collide or fracture apart or they can become new hybrids: fresh sources of greater understanding and collaborative ventures.

Learning objectives

  1. An understanding of current issues and societal trends that affect curators and museums by situating current theory and practice within an historical context.
  2. An understanding of the current and evolving professional context and expectations which shape curatorial practice, along with the knowledge/skills/attitudes required.
  3. An understanding of "official" standards and competencies.
  4. An appreciation of the motives that influence the development of private and public collections.
  5. An awareness of the role of the curator in the legal, ethical and institutional contexts in which collections are developed, accessed, shared, used, managed and deaccessioned.
  6. The tools to think critically about issues of voice/authority/ownership.
  7. An understanding of the learning styles that influence the ways in which diverse curators/communities /audiences learn/interact.
  8. An appreciation and understanding of the methods used for sharing knowledge through exhibitions, publications, public programmes, interpretation and other media and activities.
  9. The confidence to apply critical approaches to issues and problems.
  10. The capacity of communicating and working effectively with others to develop new strategies, create new practices and open new paths for multidisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration.


  1. Acceptance into the Diploma in Cultural Resource Management or PSC in Collections Management program or approval of Program Office (approval pending review of work, volunteer, and/or educational experience provided on course registration form).
  2. Though not required, current or prior experience in a museum or cultural organization would be an asset for success in this course. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure they can complete all course assignments and contribute meaningfully to all course discussions by drawing from their experience. Please contact the program office if you have questions.
  3. Regular access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.
  4. University-level research, writing, and critical thinking skills.


This course is eligible for the StrongerBC future skills grant. To register using this grant please first review your eligibility and then select the StrongerBC future skills grant fee type below. 


Beth Carter is the curator at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. Previously, Beth was Director-Curator at the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby, BC. Beth has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia and a Masters in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in England. Beth has worked for over 30 years in museums large and small - starting with unpaid internships while at UBC. She fell in love with museums and collections during her first visit to the storage area of the Vancouver Museum. She has worked at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and the Alberni Valley Museum on Vancouver Island, and did internships at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. While at Glenbow, Beth coordinated the Art of Asia gallery, and was project coordinator for the Nitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life exhibit about the Blackfoot peoples of southern Alberta and Montana. She worked closely with Glenbow's extensive collections from around the world, and has participated in the development of over 25 exhibits.

What participants are saying

“Recognizes the ongoing struggle in museums between doing things the way they have always been done and looking toward creativity and community engagement in the future.”

“The content is relevant and current.”

“The main strengths were providing the basic premises of contemporary curatorship. The course helped to provide a much clearer understanding of what is required of curators even though the field varies from institution to institution.”

“Gave a good understanding of curatorial practice, its evolution and contemporary issues which relate to it.”

“Very good balance between the theoretical and the practical.”

“[Instructor Beth Carter was] very encouraging, demonstrated perspective and wanted us to look at things in new ways.”


Online format using the learning management system (LMS), Brightspace, over a 14-week period, requiring approximately 12-14 rigorous hours of coursework per week.

Students login to the course and communicate with the instructor and fellow students via the Brightspace course site. This course follows an asynchronous delivery model.

This course will use online text-based notes and/or PowerPoint presentations, forum-based discussions, individual and individual assignments, and print and online readings/resources. In addition to completing assignments and activities, participants are expected to contribute meaningfully and frequently to forum-based discussions weekly. The mode of contact with the course instructor is via email or online forums.

Attendance, participation and decorum

Whether registered as a credit or non-credit participant, you will be expected to:

  • login to the course website on a regular basis throughout each week
  • participate in class activities, and thoughtfully and articulately contribute to course forum discussions by reflecting upon assigned readings and professional experiences
  • submit course assignments on scheduled course deadline dates
  • notify course instructors of any personal leaves throughout the term that will affect class participation well in advance
  • notify the instructor of any situation that will compromise the timely submission of an assignment or activity to work out alternate arrangements well in advance of due date
  • provide work throughout the course that is effectively organized and researched, professionally presented, and well-written
  • interact with colleagues, program staff, and course instructors in a respectful and positive manner at all times

Note: if a student has not signed into the course site by the 100% tuition refund drop date, the Program Office reserves the right to withdraw the student from the course. Participation in online courses is mandatory and online interactions are the most important part of the course learning experience. As such, “catching up” at such a late date without prior approval—and make-up scheduling by the instructor and/or program—is impossible

Privacy Considerations

In some cases, participants and the course instructor may discuss examples that reflect an actual situation, institution, or community. In order to create an environment where all feel free to discuss and learn from situational issues, it is asked that everyone respect the confidential nature of the institutions and communities being discussed.

While the site is password protected, note that email and course discussion forum groups are never entirely confidential and are subject to freedom of information and privacy legislation. Your use of these communication tools should reflect the public nature of the media.

We ask that you respect the copyright of any and all course materials and note that these are circulated and shared for the purposes of this course only. Further reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Personal information at the University is protected by the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the University's Protection of Privacy Policy.

Disclosure of personal information to vendors, systems or services storing or accessing that information outside of Canada is restricted by s.30.1 of FIPPA.

Instructors may use a variety of educational technology in a course including internet-based technologies, or web-based applications, cloud services and social media. The use of technology is intended to enhance and/or deliver students' education and is part of a students' engagement at the University. Some of these technologies may collect, use, disclose, and store student and instructor personal information outside of Canada.

In some courses, instructors may require students to use educational technology and social media which stores personal information outside of Canada, in such cases, instructors will try to provide options (such as using an alias to register).

If students do not want their personal information stored or accessed outside of Canada, in certain rare instances, courses may not be available to them. If the course is required for the completion of a degree, alternatives will be provided.

Course Credit

1.5 units at UVic or may be taken on a non-credit basis.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have not already been admitted to UVic, you cannot take this course(s) for credit. Program Application Deadlines are as follows:

September entry:  July 1
January entry:  November 1
May entry: March 1

However, if you had applied to the program before the application deadline, you will be permitted to register in the course(s).

Registration details

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Info you should know:

Continuing Studies statement on use of educational technology

This course will require the use of Zoom and may use other education technology such as internet-based applications, cloud services, or social media. In order to complete this course you will be required to either consent to the disclosure of your personal information outside of Canada to enable use of these technologies, or work with the Division of Continuing Studies to explore other privacy protective options (such as using an alias or nickname).