Bard Graduate Center

Bard Graduate Center

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The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture is a graduate institute affiliated with Bard College
Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as "St. Stephen's College", is a small four-year liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.-Location:...

, located in Annandale-on-Hudson
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Annandale-on-Hudson is a hamlet in Dutchess County, New York, USA, in the Hudson Valley in the town of Red Hook, across the Hudson River from Kingston....

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...


The school, founded in 1993, is located at West 86th Street in Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

. The BGC offers two programs of study, one leading to a master of arts degree and the other to a doctor of philosophy degree. Students in these programs can select from an array of courses dealing with various aspects of the cultural history of the material world.

Students in the MA and PhD programs take the same courses, although their programs are articulated in different ways. The curriculum for the master’s degree includes a number of required courses, tutorials, independent studies, travel, and internships in fields chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty adviser.

Students are otherwise free to construct their own program of study (with their adviser’s help). The BGC has special areas of strength—in New York and American Material Culture; History and Theory of Museums; Modern Design History; Early Modern Europe; and Comparative Medieval Material Culture (China, Islam, Europe). But specialization in one of these areas is neither required nor necessarily encouraged for MA students. Doctoral candidates, by contrast, may wish to concentrate more and work in close collaboration with faculty advisers to craft a slate of electives in preparation for qualifying examinations and the dissertation.

In addition to formal classes, the BGC runs a series of evening colloquia designed to function in a kind of polyphony with the “for credit” course offerings. Regular evening seminars, which are open to the academic public, serve as foci for the BGC’s areas of strength. In addition, the History and Theory of Museums program brings in speakers affiliated with current exhibitions, and the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Europe group cosponsors two annual events with the Columbia University interdepartmental group on Medieval and Renaissance studies. Also, endowed lecture series bring in a regular sequence of speakers on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France and on the history of glass. A monthly faculty work-in-progress seminar helps create and further house discourse. Every May the BGC participates, as the founding organizer, in the Consortium for American Material Culture, along with Yale University, Boston University, the University of Delaware, the University of Wisconsin—Madison, the Smithsonian Institution, and our local partners at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New-York Historical Society.

The hands-on examination of objects is an essential feature of study at the BGC. Incorporated into the first-year Survey of the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture course are “Materials Days,” events that focus on the making of things, so that students can experience materiality from the maker’s perspective.

The BGC's exhibition program allows students to learn about a range of artifacts and meanings and to better understand how exhibitions and galleries function.

Graduates of the BGC’s degree programs are prepared for careers or career advancement in academia, museums, historic houses, galleries, auction houses, corporate art management, and government agencies, as well as in the fields of research, consulting, publishing, and communications. Some recent BGC graduates are holding positions as curators at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the New-York Historical Society; the National Gallery of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts; Yale University Art Gallery; the Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Arts and Design; the Allentown Art Museum; and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

The BGC also has a Main Gallery presenting regular exhibitions relating to the history of the decorative arts, design and material culture, and a Focus Gallery devoted to small-scale exhibitions resulting from the explorations and research of faculty and students.

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