MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture

The MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture is offered by the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery, London. The programme combines the study of artworks and their cultural contexts with high-level linguistic, archive and research skills for a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators. The art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute are linked to the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide an academic programme which will equip students either as academic art historians with serious insight into the behind the scenes working of a great museum or as curators with the research skills necessary for high-level museum work.

Aims of the programme

Bring together the art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute with the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide training which will equip students to become academic art historians with serious insight into the work of a great museum, or curators with the research skills necessary for high level museum work.

Foster and develop student knowledge of and research into art, art history and curatorship.

Provide linguistic, archive and research skills to enable graduates of the programme to research, catalogue and curate works of art held in collections of national and international standing.

Build understanding of and ability to comment on primary source materials, both visual and textual.

Enable students to read academic papers and publications in European languages, and to undertake scholarly research at a high level and write up the results in an accurate and rigorous way.

Help students to acquire a familiarity with the principal sources of information in a variety of historical disciplines.


This twelve-month, full-time Programme provides an introduction to:

· Museum Knowledge, which covers all aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display and exhibitions.

· Art History and Renaissance Culture to increase students’ understanding of methods of analysing the subjects of works of art and their knowledge of Renaissance art works and the conditions in which they were commissioned, produced and enjoyed.

· Current scholarship and professional practice in these areas as well as new and emerging areas of research and scholarship.

Core modules 

Core modules engage the student in study at the National Gallery and the Warburg Institute. Students explore issues in curating and in the meaning and impact of images. Students gain an understanding of palaeography and the use of the archive, as well as training designed to introduce and solidify language skills.  An introduction to central debates on the writing of history involves students with methods of engaging with primary source material and the historical record. 

Optional modules (two to be chosen)

Artistic Intentions 1400 to 1700

Curating Renaissance Art and Exhibitions (NG and WI - tbc)

The History of the Book in the Renaissance

Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance

Music and the Arts in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Italian Mural Painting and the Making of Visual Cultures

Mapping Worlds: Medieval to Modern

Renaissance Material Culture

Sin and Sanctity in the Reformation


Why Choose this degree?

In taking this MA with the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery, students will have unrivalled access to the best resources and expertise for academic study in London. Alongside our official programme we organise visits and training sessions at neighbouring institutions, such as the British Museum, Government Art Collection, Welcome Trust and British Library, and further afield the V&A, Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Courtauld Gallery. Students have the opportunity to speak with artists, curators and academics, many of whom are Warburg alumni to enrich their learning experience and develop research projects.

In addition to the MA programme, there is a varied and exciting range of public lectures, conferences, events and talks available to students at the Warburg Institute and National Gallery. They have the opportunity to consult and exchange ideas with the community of academic art historians who use the Warburg Institute as their base and provide access to networks which will support them in their future profession. See the website for more details on our annual programme:

“The course was always inspiring and assiduously well taught whether we were learning about picture framing and restoration, studying Michelangelo’s letters in his own handwriting, or handling rare books from the world-class library.”

David Daly, class of 2016

"The diverse expertise of the teachers means you are constantly challenged to reframe your ideas about artworks, history and cultures. Thanks to the multidisciplinary character of the library, the scope of my academic interests has progressively expanded and the quality of my research improved."

Giosuè Fabiano, class of 2016

“A remarkable experience. It has deepened my research and curatorial skills and broadened my horizons.”

Gemma Cornetti, class of 2015

“A stimulating learning environment. The staff, both at the Institute and at the National Gallery, are supportive and generous with their time making this experience a truly unique one.”

Lorenza Gay, class of 2014