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Venice and the Biennale: Then and Now

June 8-30, 2013

This exciting international study program will be held in Venice in tandem with the 55th Venice Biennale, the premier international exhibition of contemporary art established in 1895. Through a combination of site visits, classroom lectures, and readings , students will experience the sights, sounds, and textures of this unique city-as well as the contemporary artistic projects, performances, and installations that unfold there. Students explore Venice as an enigmatic setting for novels, short stories, and films through the work of Thomas Mann and William Shakespeare and screen the films of Luchino Visconti and Silvio Soldini. You will tour the centuries-old Accademia museum, Peggy Guggenheim's jewel-like collection of modern art, the creatively curated Mario Fortuny Museum, and the two sites of the newly opened François Pinault Collection to gain insights into the international art scene. Finally, students absorb the sights and sounds of contemporary Venice, the glittering glass industry on Murano, the dramatic mosaic of the Last Judgement in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello, and Giotto's Arena Chapel in Padua, you will practice the craft of art criticism on site.

As students in this program experience the sights and sounds of Venice, they live on the beautiful breezy island of San Servolo, just 10 minutes away from the historic Piazza San Marco. Fully equipped with wireless connections, an affordable cafeteria, and luxurious sports facilities, as well as access to the nearby Lido beaches, residing on San Servolo is a wonderful balance to the academic side of this program.
The program gives students a chance to step directly into one of the premier venues for contemporary art from across the globe. Students will gain a nuanced history of this important art fair and its place among other similar exhibitions: Documenta, Münster Skulptur, and the biennials held in Istanbul, Gwangju, Sevilla, and São Paolo. All students complete 6 credits of study-one 3-credit art history course, and one 3-credit humanistic studies course. Through these courses, they will explore the history, theory, and practice of Venice as a locus for contemporary art production and also be introduced to the curious role that Venice has occupied in the imaginations of key cultural figures for the past several centuries.

This month-long, interdisciplinary program offers 6 credits (3 in art history and 3 in humanistic studies). Classes may be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit or audit. The program is open to undergraduate or graduate students (rising sophomores to second-year graduate students), as well as to lifelong learners at least 18 years of age who have completed at least one year of college study. All students must have a current, valid passport for travel.

This program is open to all majors.


Program Fees

Airfare is not included in the program fee below, which include all accommodations, all ground transportation, daily breakfast, orientation dinner, and departure dinner:

  • $7,200 includes tuition for 6 credits: 3 undergraduate credits in humanistic studies + 3 undergraduate credits in art history

Graduate credit is available to qualified students with the approval of the Program Coordinator at an additional cost of $75 per credit. A limited number of merit and need-based scholarships may be available, contingent on the continued availability of gift and grant funding. To inquire about scholarships or request a detailed itinerary or additional information on this and other MICA programs, contact the MICA Summer Travel Intensives program at: or by phone: 410.225.2219.


Jennie Hirsh, co-coordinator, is assistant professor of Modern and Contemporary Art in MICA's Department of Art History. She received her MA and PhD in the history of art from Bryn Mawr College as well as an MA in Italian from Middlebury College. An expert in twentieth-century Italian visual culture, she has taught numerous courses on Modern Italian art, architecture, and design, art under dictatorship, and postwar Italian cinema. Her publications focus on the production and reception of art and architecture under Italian Fascism, paying particular attention to the classical tradition. She is currently completing a monograph on Giorgio de Chirico. She has received numerous grants and fellowships from institutions including the U.S. Fulbright Commission and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, both of which have supported her work in Venice.

Nora Alter, co-coordinator, is the chair of the Film and Media Arts Department in the School of Communication and Theater at Temple University. She received her BA, MA, and PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on comparative literature. Nora has been faculty on various study abroad programs in Berlin, Paris, and Rome. She is fluent in French and German. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, Nora has nearly 20 years of teaching experience with students of fine art and literature. The author of three single-authored books and an edited volume, and more than 50 scholarly articles, Nora is equally conversant in the fields of film studies, literature, new media, video, and installation art.

For more information on any of these summer programs, please Contact Us.