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Venice: Venice, Then and Now

June 15 - July 10, 2015

(Registration Deadline: March 23, 2015)

Explore the 56th Venice Biennale, the premier international exposition of contemporary art founded in 1895. In this interdisciplinary program, you will visit historical national pavilions in the Biennale Gardens and the nearby Arsenale as you witness first-hand the magical transformation of these spaces. Artists featured this year will include Céleste Boursier-Mougenot (France), Sarah Lucas (United Kingdom), Sarkis (Turkey), Herman de Vries (Netherlands), Chiharu Shiota (Japan) and Joan Jonas (United States).

In addition to exploring the historical sites of the biennale, we will seek out projects and installations throughout the seductive architecture of this labyrinthine city. You will tour the centuries-old Accademia museum, Peggy Guggenheim's jewel-like collection of modern art, the creatively curated Mario Fortuny Museum, the two sites of the opened François Pinault Collection, and the Prada Foundation to gain insights into the international art scene embedded in Venice. Finally, as you absorb the sights and sounds of contemporary Venice, the Murano glass industry, the dramatic mosaic of the Last Judgment 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. We will also make a daytrip to nearby Trieste. We will hold classes both in the classroom and on site, as appropriate, throughout the program.

Finally, local experts, curators, art historians, and participating artists will provide special lectures for our group. As you experience the sights and sounds of Venice, you will live on the beautiful breezy island of San Servolo, just ten minutes away from the historic Piazza San Marco. Fully equipped with wireless connections, an affordable cafeteria, and luxurious grounds, as well as access to the nearby Lido beaches, San Servolo provides a wonderful balance to the academic side of this program.

Director and Faculty

Jennie Hirsh has taught modern and contemporary art history at MICA since 2007 and also currently directs the MA in Critical Studies. She is co-editor of Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (2011) and has published numerous essays on Italian art, architecture, and cinema.

Kerr Houston has taught art history at MICA since 2002, and has also served as an instructor in programs based in Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic. He is the author of An Introduction to Art Criticism, and he has also written on medieval and Renaissance Italian art.

Monica Amor holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has written for Art Margins, Artforum, Art Nexus, Grey Room, October, Third Text, and Trans. Her book Theories of the Non-object: Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela 1944-1969 is forthcoming from the University of California Press.

Program Fees

  • $7,350 (does not include international airfare)
    Includes tuition for 6 credits total in Art History
    OR option for 3 undergraduate credits in Art History + 3 undergraduate credits in Humanistic Studies
  • Graduate credit is available to qualified students for $85 per credit above the $5,850 base fee (contact program coordinator below).


Contact program co-directors Jennie Hirsh at or Kerr Houston at

MICA's Summer Travel Intensives are open to undergraduate and graduate students in all majors--18 years or older with a valid passport--who have completed at least one year of college. For all programs, credits can be applied to Studio Elective. For more information, or to inquire about scholarships, contact the School for Professional and Continuing Studies at or 410-225-2219.