Collecting Art From Latin America

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
10 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module offers students an opportunity to learn about contemporary art from Latin America, and how and why collections such as ESCALA acquire artworks.

Students will learn about the development of curatorial frameworks for collecting and displaying art from Latin America, the foundation, mission and vision of ESCALA, and the practical steps required to successfully acquire an artwork.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with opportunities to study artworks from ESCALA at first-hand, directly accessing the Collection and related resources.

  • To encourage students to research a new acquisition for a university art collection.

  • To equip students to develop real-world transferable skills in making a written and oral case to an art acquisitions funding board.

  • To equip students to turn a written report into an oral and visual presentation and to develop their presentation style and skills.

  • To equip students to work collaboratively rather than competitively.

  • To equip students to work under time pressure.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Developed the skills to research a new acquisition in relation to ESCALA's current acquisition policy and focus.

  2. Developed the skills to make a written acquisition proposal to an art acquisitions funding board, using the template provided by the Art Fund and adapted for the module.

  3. Developed the skills to turn a written proposal into an oral and visual presentation.

  4. Developed their individual presentation style and skills based on feedback from the tutor and peers and on self-evaluation.

  5. Developed an ability to work individually, in pairs and then in groups in a collaborative rather than competitive way, gaining an insight into their own and other people's strengths and how to harness these to reach a common goal.

  6. Improved their ability to work flexibly and under the pressure of time in learning new material and transforming it into different formats within a few weeks.

  7. Gained a greater awareness of ESCALA and of contemporary art traditions beyond Europe and the U.S.

Module information

Knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese or indigenous American languages is not essential but those who do have those languages are welcome to use the extensive non-English resources in the University's Albert Sloman Library and in ESCALA's Documentation Centre, which you will be introduced to.

The intensive nature of the module and the opportunity to get close to original artworks requires students to commit fully from the beginning, which means attending all seminars (where possible) and fully engaging with our object-based learning approach which requires students to be fully present (not on devices) and listening actively to their peers.

ESCALA often organises or shares information about events related to art from Latin America at the University's Colchester Campus or at other venues through its website blog:, Facebook: EssexCollection and Twitter: ESCALA.

We advise checking these frequently for information.

ESCALA also has its own archive and reference library related to its artworks. You can access this by contacting the ESCALA Collections Assistant.

This module gives students a unique opportunity to engage with the real-world challenges of running a University-based art collection, through sessions led by ESCALA's curatorial team.
This module offers students an opportunity to learn about contemporary art from Latin America, and how and why collections such as ESCALA acquire artworks.

This module seeks to develop core skills for students' development as emerging professionals in cultural institutions. Students will learn how to write and then "pitch" an acquisitions proposal, based on a model used by the Art Fund, which they will pitch individually to an expert panel. Students will be guided carefully through this process and will be required to work within a clear set of guidelines and procedures which will, in addition, give them insight into the standards of best practice followed by collections such as ESCALA that are accredited by Arts Council England. Should the expert panel reach consensus, ESCALA may purchase the "winning" artwork. The coursework also focuses on the production of short artwork analyses geared toward real-world modes of dissemination, such as exhibition catalogues and labels.

In our sessions, we will engage closely with the recent exhibitions of ESCALA works at Art Exchange in the Environment Collection Theme, as well as further works in ESCALA from other themes, which include Indigenous America and Human Rights.

Although no prior regional expertise is required for this module, students are encouraged to gain an initial awareness of art from Latin America before the course begins through recommended readings. Weekly required readings on theoretical and art critical issues related to environmental aesthetics will inform group discussions and individual research into artworks to be proposed for acquisition in the coursework assignments. Students will need to become familiar with ESCALA's holdings through online resources, such as artist interviews and texts produced by students from the University of Essex, as well as independent research.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar per week.
  • Two 2-hour sessions.
  • One reading week.

This module requires students to complete the essential readings for each week in order to facilitate discussion during the seminars. The sessions cover topics, theories and artworks; discussion and close analysis of ESCALA artworks; discussion of set readings; presentations on ESCALA's institutional ethos and collecting policy; and formative advice and feedback to strengthen presentation skills and coursework preparation.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Analysis of artwork (500 words)    20% 
Coursework   Acquisition Proposal Report (3500 words)    80% 

Additional coursework information

Analysis of artwork (500 words) (20%), Acquisition Proposal Report (3500 words) (80%)

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Blackmore, email:
Dr Lisa Blackmore
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries:



External examiner

Dr H Camilla Smith
University of Birmingham
Lecturer in Art History
Available via Moodle
Of 21 hours, 5 (23.8%) hours available to students:
16 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.