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Venice: Then and Now

June 4 - 30, 2017

Priority Deadline for Scholarship Consideration: December 1, 2016

Registration Deadline: February 1, 2017

Explore the 57th 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 Takahiro Iwasaki (Japan), Tracy Moffatt (Australia), Phyllida Barlow (United Kingdom), Xavier Veilhan (France), Wendelien van Oldenborgh (Netherlands), Geoffrey Farmer (Canada), and Mark Bradford (United States). In addition to exploring the historical sites of the biennale, we will seek out projects and installations located 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 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 daytrips to nearby Trieste and Rovereto.

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 in this year's Biennale will provide special lectures for our group. This year promises to be particularly exciting, as it coincides with with two less frequently held German exhibitions: Documenta in Kassel and Munster Skulptur, for which an optional add-on trip will be available for interested students.

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.


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 modern and contemporary Italian art, architecture, and cinema, and is currently completing a monograph on painter and writer Giorgio de Chirico.

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.

Program Fees

  • $7,450 (does not include international airfare) includes 6 credits in Art History. 
  • Graduate credit is available to qualified students for $85 per credit above the base fee (contact program coordinator).


Contact program director Jennie Hirsh at

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 MICA Open Studies at or 410-225-2219.

This page was last updated on 10/18/2016.