Decorative Arts Graduate Seminars

  • International Summer Student Life


    The Master of Arts in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies, a collaborative program of Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, offers graduate summer seminars. These courses are open to all students currently enrolled in MA or PhD programs at an accredited university.

    Program Schedule

    In summer 2018, the following course is being offered:

    London: A World City, June 17-28, 2018


    $5,805 per course (includes all gratuities and course materials)

    Housing and Meals

    Participants are responsible for their own accommodations, meals, and transportation to and from course locations.

    Course Information

    After having lost its empire in the early 20th century, the city of London has re-invented itself completely during the last 40 years. In this period, and before the momentous vote for Brexit in 2016, with its plans to break away from the European Union, London attracted people from around the globe as the financial hub of Europe and the most attractive capital city. The effects of this boom and renaissance on Great Britain’s capital created a wealth of creativity in architecture, museums, galleries, and new urban spaces.

    During the course’s two weeks, we will visit important historic sites, palaces, and collections as well as more recent urban sites and galleries for contemporary art and design. The journey will allow us to understand the deep transformation and re-invention of the old regal, imperial London and its importance as a hub for the arts in history and in contemporary creativity and urban development.

    Visits will include historic sites such as the 17th-century Ham House, today property of the National Trust; William Kent’s Chiswick House; Spencer House; the Duke of Wellington’s London home, Apsley House; and Horace Walpole’s splendid Neo-Gothic mansion, Strawberry Hill, which is currently undergoing restoration and being rediscovered.

    Decorative arts collections visited will include the Wallace Collection, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Design Museum, and the recently opened exhibition of the galleries of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as the Waddesdon Bequest at the British Museum.

    The study of British paintings will take us to the National Portrait Gallery and Kenwood House, the private home Leighton, the Orientalist painter of the Victorian period. The French Impressionists will be studied at the Courthauld Galleries, located at Somerset House.

    The London city space and questions of urbanism will be approached with a walk in the historic City and a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. Later 20th-century London will be approached with a visit to the Barbican, an urban experiment from the 1970s and current location of the Museum of the History of London. The home of mid-century architect Ernö Goldfinger will give us a very good idea of a London home incorporating the principles of international modernism in the post-World War II period. Contemporary sites and a current point of view will be included with visits to the famous Canary Wharf, the Tate Modern, and the up-and-coming township of Spitalfields, with its famous market and numerous designers and galleries.

    Please note that other visits may be scheduled as well, and the program is subject to change through spring 2018.

    This course is open to university graduate degree candidates and undergraduate seniors by permission of the School of Art and Design History and Theory.

    Graduate Credit

    Participants earn three graduate credits for successful completion of the course.

    Course Requirements

    Students are expected to attend all classes, site visits, and excursions. Classes and excursions begin promptly at the designated times; latecomers cannot be accommodated. Grades are based on class participation (20 percent) and a final slide identification and essay examination (80 percent).

    The course is moderately physically challenging, as it involves hours of walking and standing. Because of space limitations, friends and family are not permitted to join the class for lectures, walks, or site visits.

    Register Now

    This course is open to university graduate degree candidates and undergraduate seniors by permission of the School of Art and Design History and Theory. Please contact or call 212.849.8344. Early registration is encouraged.

    Contact Us

    For more information about the summer graduate seminar, email or call 212.849.8344.