Last updated: 12/28/2011
New York, New York
Street Address
18 W. 86th St.
New York, NY 10024
Mailing Address
18 W. 86th St.
New York, NY 10024
phone: 212-501-3000
Museum Type(s)
Rebecca Allan, Head of Education
phone: 212-501-3022
Hollis Barnhart, Arts Contact

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, is a graduate research institute of Bard College that opened in New York City in 1993. Today 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 a wide array of courses dealing with various aspects of the cultural history of the material world.

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. This fifth “course” is designed to avoid the peril that besets small fields and small institutions that become too comfortable and set standards that are too easily met. By bringing in interesting scholars from across the world of learning who ask questions that we have not posed or that are about things we do not study, the BGC ensures that our students’ horizons are as broad as possible and that our standard of excellence is as high as possible. 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.

Our award-winning exhibition program

Our award-winning exhibition program allows students to learn about a range of artifacts and meanings and to better understand how exhibitions and galleries function. “Scholars Days” in the gallery bring together professors, curators, and connoisseurs in an informal but rigorous context and thus serve as a model for the kind of intellectual profile we believe in. In addition to what we offer in house, students have access to collections and curators at a variety of museums in the metropolitan New York area, including the Brooklyn Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, the American Museum of Natural History, the Hispanic Society of America, and Historic Hudson Valley. Auction houses, conservation studios, and commercial galleries also provide for students direct contact with objects.

Exhibition Tours

212.501.3013 Guided exhibition are offered by experienced educators for adults, college and university classes, school groups, and senior center groups. Tours last approximately one hour. Groups may be scheduled Tuesday through Friday between 11 am and 4 pm, and on Thursday evenings until 7 pm. Advance reservations are required.

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Charles Town, West Virginia

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