Bard Graduate Center

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The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture
Bard Graduate Center, logo.gif
TypeGraduate School
DirectorSusan Weber
38 West 86th Street
New York, NY
United States
New York
New York
United States
AffiliationsBard College
Bard Graduate Center, 18 West 86th Street
38 West 86th Street

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture is a graduate research institute and gallery located in New York City. It is affiliated with Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. The gallery occupies a six-story townhouse at 18 West 86th Street while the academic building and library are located at 38 West 86th Street.[1]

Students at Bard Graduate Center focus on the study of the cultural history of the material world. The institution is committed to the encyclopedic study of things, drawing on methodologies and approaches from art and design history, economic and cultural history and history of technology, philosophy, anthropology, and archaeology.[2]

Students enrolled in the M.A. and PhD programs work closely with a distinguished faculty of active scholars in exploring the interrelationships between works of art and craft, design, places, ideas and social and cultural practice in courses ranging from antiquity to the 21st century.


Bard Graduate Center offers two programs of study, one leading to a Masters of Arts degree and the other to a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students in these programs can select courses dealing with various aspects of the cultural history of the material world. Bard Graduate Center also has a Gallery presenting regular exhibitions relating to the history of the decorative arts,[3] design and material culture, as well as Focus Project exhibitions, small-scale academically rigorous exhibitions and publications that are developed and executed by Bard Graduate Center faculty and postdoctoral fellows in collaboration with students in the MA and PhD programs.[4]

Students in the MA and PhD programs take the same courses. The curriculum for the master's degree includes a number of required courses, tutorials, independent studies, travel, and internships.

Students otherwise construct their own program of study. The BGC is known for its focus on 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).


In addition to formal classes, Bard Graduate Center 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. 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.

The endowed lecture series bring in a regular sequence of speakers on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France and on the history of glass. 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 Bard Graduate Center. 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.


Bard Graduate Center Gallery present exhibitions and a broad range of exhibition-related programs including exhibition lectures, curatorial conversations, gallery talks, films, and exhibition catalogues devoted to enhancing knowledge and awareness of the material world.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable graduates of the Bard Graduate Centre include:

  • Grace Jeffers, design educator - Master's degree in history of decorative arts (1996)
  • Sarah Archer, curator and writer - Master's degree in Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture (2006)
  • Daniella Ohad Smith, design historian and writer - PhD


  1. ^ Peterson's Graduate Programs in Arts & Architecture 2011: Sections 1-6 of 27. Lawrenceville: Peterson's. 2011.
  2. ^ "Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture". NYC-ARTS. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  3. ^ Margolin, Victor (2002). The Politics of the Artificial: Essays on Design and Design Studies. University of Chicago Press. p. 167. doi:10.7208/chicago/9780226518374.001.0001. ISBN 9780226505046.
  4. ^ "Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture". Gallery at the BGC. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°47′9″N 73°58′16.6″W / 40.78583°N 73.971278°W / 40.78583; -73.971278