Program Highlights | CCL 2016 Draws To A Close in NYC

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CCL Class of 2016 at a visit to the home of CCL Co-Founder Agnes Gund. Photo by Isaac James

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Brett Littman, Director of The Drawing Center, welcomes the Fellows to the site of their practicum assignment. Photo by Isaac James

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Elizabeth Smith (CCL '12), Executive Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, makes remarks to guests of the curators cocktail. Photo by Isaac James

Highlights from the Final Week of CCL 2016

The conclusion of the 2016 CCL program took place in New York during the final week of May. Twelve curators—some local, others from as far as Hong Kong, London, and Honolulu—joined CCL in the city for six days of business coursework, meetings with museum directors and cultural leaders, and a team-based practicum project. In sum, these modules were designed to assess each Fellow's growth over the six-month program and to further refine their understandings of leadership, strategy, and innovation.

Highlights from the week include:


The CCL Fellows undertook an in-depth investigation of The Drawing Center in SoHo, using the institution as a case study to test their analytical insights. The group was tasked with a consideration of audience expansion at The Drawing Center and engaged in field work as well as conversations with the museum's Director, board members, and senior staff; former exhibiting artists; external stakeholders; and leadership from peer institutions. The assignment culminated in a presentation to the museum of actionable recommendations and suggested next steps towards achieving their institutional goals.



The Fellows met with a number of visionary cultural leaders throughout the city who are actively shaping New York's artistic landscape. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tom Campbell, Director & CEO, and Laurel Britton, Head of Strategy, hosted a discussion on institutional alignment and the importance of understanding the expectations and goals held at all levels of the museum. Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner in the Department of Cultural Affairs, spoke of the urgency with which museums and curators must prioritize inclusion, representation, and diversity in its varied forms. Finally, Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum, discussed his institution’s recent successful building project and underlined the importance of entrepreneurial intuition, positive momentum, and long-term vision. 


To reinforce the January curriculum, Columbia Business School faculty met with the Fellows once again to equip the group with varied approaches to their professional practices and developing skill sets. Paul Ingram, Kravis Professor of Business, led the Fellows through their practicum assignment, refining the process of data-gathering and the presentation of strategic deliverables. Daniel Ames, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Business, offered a role-playing exercises focused around building coalitions and advanced negotiation.


The CCL network—including current and graduated Fellows, alumni of the CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice, and New York-based curators and directors—gathered for a cocktail reception at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The event, which was hosted by the foundation's Executive Director Elizabeth Smith (CCL '12), allowed multiple generations of the CCL to mingle and discuss their journeys in the curatorial sphere. The gathering came in the wake of the fantastic news that, as of May 2016, twenty CCL alumni have ascended to directorships since completing the fellowship.

With the conclusion of this year's program, twelve talented Fellows join the ranks of CCL's now 98 alumni. We are delighted to see what positive change this group brings to the field and look forward to their continued success as curators and leaders. We extend our sincerest congratulations to the Class of 2016!