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Bard Graduate Center

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture
Established 1993
Type Graduate School
Director Susan Weber
Location New York, New York, United States
Campus Urban
Affiliations Bard 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 institute and exhibition space located in New York City. It is affiliated with Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

The school, founded in 1993, occupies a six-story town house at 18 West 86th Street and a second, newly renovated town house at 38 West 86th Street.


  • Programs 1
  • Teaching 2
  • Dissertations 3
  • Notable alumni 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The BGC 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. The BGC also has a Main Gallery[1] presenting regular exhibitions relating to the history of the decorative arts, design and material culture, and a Focus Gallery devoted to small-scale exhibitions resulting from the explorations and research of faculty and students.[1]

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 has 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, the BGC 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 the BGC. 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.


Among the Ph.D. dissertations submitted are the following: Jacqueline Marx Atkins, "Wearing Propaganda: Civilian Textiles on the Japanese Home Front 1931–1945 with Reference to Britain and The United States," (2006); Michelle Tolini Finamore, "Fashioning Early Cinema: Dress and Representation in American Film, 1905–1930," (2010); Stephanie Lake, "Bonnie Cashin: Fashion and Costume Design ca. 1923–1985," (2009); Amy Sande-Friedman, "Kenneth Snelson and the Science of Sculpture in 1960s America," (2012); Daniella Ohad Smith, "Hotel Design in Zionist Palestine: Modernism, Tourism, and Nationalism, 1917–1948," (2006); Ezra Shales, John Cotton Dana and the Business of Enlightening Newark: Applied Art at the Newark Public Library and Museum, 1902–29," (2006).

Notable alumni

Notable graduates of the Bard Graduate Centre include:

  • Grace Jeffers, design educator - Masters degree in history of decorative arts (1996)


  1. ^ a b "Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture". Gallery at the BGC. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. 

External links

  • Bard Graduate Center official site
  • Main Gallery
  • Focus Gallery
  • Master of Arts Program information
  • Admissions information
  • Gallery information
  • Yale University Press exhibition catalogs from the Bard Graduate Center

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