MoMA’s Online Courses Let You Study Modern & Contemporary Art and Earn a Certificate

The labels “mod­ern art” and “con­tem­po­rary art” don’t eas­i­ly pull apart from one anoth­er. In a strict­ly his­tor­i­cal sense, the for­mer refers to art pro­duced in the era we call moder­ni­ty, begin­ning in the mid-19th cen­tu­ry. And accord­ing to its ety­mol­o­gy, the lat­ter refers to art pro­duced at the same time as some­thing else: there is art “con­tem­po­rary” with, say, the Ital­ian Renais­sance, but also art “con­tem­po­rary” with our own lives. You’ll have a much clear­er idea of this dis­tinc­tion — and of what peo­ple mean when they use the rel­e­vant terms today — if you take the Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary Art and Design Spe­cial­iza­tion, a set of cours­es from the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (aka MoMA) in New York.

Offered on the online edu­ca­tion plat­form Cours­era, the Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary Art and Design Spe­cial­iza­tion promis­es to “intro­duce you to the art of our time.” In its first course, Mod­ern Art & Ideas, you’ll learn “how artists have tak­en inspi­ra­tion from their envi­ron­ment and respond­ed to social issues over the past 150 years.”

In the sec­ond, See­ing through Pho­tographs (whose trail­er appears above), you’ll explore pho­tog­ra­phy “from its ori­gins in the mid-1800s through the present.” The third, What Is Con­tem­po­rary Art?, intro­duces works of the past four decades “rang­ing from 3‑D-print­ed glass and fiber sculp­tures to per­for­mances in a fac­to­ry.” The final course, Fash­ion as Design, affords the oppor­tu­ni­ty to “learn from mak­ers work­ing with cloth­ing every day — and, in some cas­es, rein­vent­ing it for the future.”

You can view the entire Con­tem­po­rary Art and Design Spe­cial­iza­tion for free, by “audit­ing” its cours­es. Alter­na­tive­ly, you can join the paid track, which costs $39 USD per month, which at Cours­er­a’s sug­gest­ed pace of sev­en months to com­plete (includ­ing a “hands-on project” for each course) comes out to $273 over­all. Then, when you fin­ish the spe­cial­iza­tion, you’ll “earn a Cer­tifi­cate that you can share with prospec­tive employ­ers and your pro­fes­sion­al net­work.” Whet­her you go the audit or cer­tifi­cate route, you’ll earn an under­stand­ing of “mod­ern art” and “con­tem­po­rary art” as they’re cre­at­ed and regard­ed here in the 21st cen­tu­ry: the era deep into moder­ni­ty in which we live, and one in which the bound­aries of art itself — not just the adjec­tives pre­ced­ing it — show no sign of ceas­ing to expand.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take Sev­en Free Cours­es From the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (aka MoMA)

What Is Con­tem­po­rary Art?: A Free Online Course from The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art

The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Presents a Free Online Class on Fash­ion: Enroll in Fash­ion as Design Today

How to Make a Sav­ile Row Suit: A Short Doc­u­men­tary from the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art

Art His­to­ri­an Pro­vides Hilar­i­ous & Sur­pris­ing­ly Effi­cient Art His­to­ry Lessons on Tik­Tok

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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