CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice

2019 Seminar Group Photo

The 2019 CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar students (from left to right) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Kiara Hill, Kendall DeBoer, Marlise G. Brown, Joy Xiao Chen, Sharrissa Iqbal, Hannah Yohalem, Alicia Caticha, Jennifer Baez, Caitlin C. Clerkin, Tara Contractor, Danny Smith, Tina Barouti, Adam Harris Levine, Melissa M. Ramos Borges, Elizabeth Lee, and Clare Kobasa.

Photo by Hollis Johnson

Class Of 2018 Seminar Cropped (JPG)

The 2018 CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar students (from left to right) at the Brooklyn Museum: Anni Pullagura, Miranda Saylor, Jun Nakamura, Marina Tyquiengco, Xuxa Rodríguez, Chloé Madeleine Pelletier, Galina Olmsted, Ashley Dimmig, J. English Cook, Leila Anne Harris, Alisa Chiles, Xiaohan Du, Rachel Patt, Diana Mellon, and Christopher Green.

Photo by Hollis Johnson

2017 Seminar (Cropped) (JPG)

The 2017 CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar students (from left to right) at the Wallach Art Gallery: Christine Robinson, Erica DiBenedetto, Isabella Lores-Chavez, Madeleine Haddon, Kristopher Driggers, Juliana Barton, Changduk Charles Kang, Margaret Innes, Alexis Bard Johnson, Jennifer Saracino, Julia Oswald, Julia Pelta Feldman, Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol, Sana Mirza, and Clarisse Fava-Piz.

Photo by Isaac James

2015 Mellon Whitney tour

The Whitney’s Carter Foster, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing, leads 2015 Seminar students through the museum's new building and discusses the collaborative process and curatorial considerations behind the inaugural exhibition, “America is Hard to See.”

Photo by Isaac James

Mellon Seminar - Photo with Kara Walker

Artist Kara Walker discusses her sources of inspiration for "A Subtlety" with the 2014 Seminar participants.

Photo by Jeremy Ross

About the Seminar

The CCL/Mellon Seminar in Curatorial Practice provides art history Ph.D. students in all fields of specialty with an in-depth introduction to working in museums. The two-week intensive combines exhibition and collection tours, conversations with curators and cultural leaders, and group exercises at New York City institutions. With support from a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Seminar provides a critical training opportunity for emerging curatorial professionals. Twelve to fifteen students annually receive the extraordinary opportunity to observe, analyze, and engage in the critical responsibilities of museums through a range of institutional contexts.


Candidates for the Seminar should be full-time students enrolled in a doctoral program (or its equivalent) in art history, or a related field of study with significant coursework in art history. Eligible candidates will have completed their oral examinations before the program begins and will have, at minimum, determined the topic of their dissertation research. Students who will have successfully defended their dissertations prior to the start of the program are not eligible to apply.

CCL seeks an inclusive group of participants from around the United States and abroad. The ideal candidate has a strong academic record and demonstrates intellectual and professional curiosity, an interest in exploring the curatorial field, and the ability to work well with others. Previous museum experience is common, but not required.


The two weeks of the Seminar expose students to the critical responsibilities of a curator.  Sessions are held in museum galleries and behind the scenes of art institutions across New York City. Students engage with directors, curators, conservators, registrars, educators, and trustees, among others, and are introduced to the wide variety of roles that contribute to the operations of museums today. Lessons and conversations familiarize participants with a range of curatorial career paths and institutional models, exploring the ideas behind acquisition, care, interpretation, and display as they relate to permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Discussions are complemented by coursework led by professors from Columbia Business School, which covers fundamental business principles in order to better understand organizational models and managerial leadership.

Students are also assigned a team practicum exercise that asks them to critically assess the mission and program of a New York City institution and to apply skills and perspectives gained from the Seminar.

In addition, each student is matched with a mentor curator for individualized one-on-one meetings.

Program Schedule

Assuming a COVID-19 vaccine will be available, and that travel is safe, the 2021 CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar will take place from July 18-30, 2021 in-person in New York City. Members of the accepted 2020 cohort will also participate. The schedule includes weekday programming from approximately 9AM to 8PM, as well as coursework and independent site visits to be completed during the weekend. The program is a full-time intensive commitment. Students will attend all scheduled program sessions and may not schedule other meetings or activities during the two weeks of the Seminar. Students with any prior engagements during the two weeks of the Seminar need not apply.

Should condition of the pandemic prevent safe travel and convening, CCL will work with accepted students to offer an equivalent online program. 


There are no tuition fees or direct costs associated with the Seminar. CCL is committed to ensuring that financial resources do not preclude any student’s application or participation. Round-trip travel to New York City and housing for the full two weeks of the program will be provided for students residing outside of New York City. In addition, CCL will provide all students with a stipend to cover the costs of transportation and meals not organized by CCL.