Artist Interview Workshop at Glenstone Museum 2019

Our next virtual Artist Interview Workshop will be held on October 16-18, 2023. The application period for this program is now closed.

The subsequent Artist Interview Workshop will be held on January 24-26, 2024. This program will be co-led by Jen Mergel, the James & Audrey Foster Executive Director of the Esplanade Association, and Samuel Redman, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts. To apply for this program, please fill out an application HERE; the deadline to submit an application is September 22, 2023.

For additional information regarding future Workshops, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.



The Artist Interview Workshops aim to provide conservators, curators, educators, and other arts professionals at all stages of their careers with a greater understanding of the methods and skills needed to conduct successful artist interviews.

With support from the Mellon Foundation, the Workshop was developed in response to a cross-disciplinary appeal from arts professionals seeking to engage in thoughtful, guided conversations with artists and to share the outcomes of these projects with their peers. At its inception, the program offered arts professionals a unique learning opportunity to connect with a diverse group of colleagues and gain some of the core skills needed to conduct successful interviews with artists. Over the years the conversation has evolved, moving beyond methodology and the exploration of why interviews are an essential component of contemporary art preservation. Today, the workshops investigate the very nature of stewardship, probe the contours of memory, review best practices for recording and archiving interviews, and consider the legal frameworks for their use.

The structure of the workshops has been crafted by VoCA on a model developed by VoCA Board members Richard Cándida Smith and Jill Sterrett. Their respective experiences in oral history and museum-based interview programs produced a rigorous, instructive, and interactive agenda. Over the course of two to three days, various presenters conduct a series of lectures and case studies which are then analyzed via roundtable discussion and tested in small group exercises. Speakers also facilitate conversations with other presenters and attendees, addressing their own experiences, the different approaches interviewers can take, and common challenges in the process.

Since 2012, VoCA’s Artist Interview Workshops have served over 700 arts professionals from more than 250 institutions worldwide. We look forward to growing this number and reaching our new colleagues across the globe.

In January 2018, we hosted a VoCA Summit to mark and measure six years of this signature program; for more information, go to

the Artist Interview Workshop held at MoMA in 2019

Artist Interview Workshop held at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2019.

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting with 19 tiles

Virtual Artist Interview Workshop held via Zoom in 2021. 



As stewards of contemporary collections, many of us are expected to conduct interviews without any training, and are left feeling uncertain about how to approach the task. Our curriculum not only provides a basic knowledge of interview techniques but also explores pre-interview preparation, engaged listening, guided conversations, and keys to relationship-building. In addition to teaching these skills, this workshop is an opportunity for colleagues to share their experiences and learn from the shared challenges they face.

Obtaining relevant information from guided conversations is just one piece of a complex puzzle. For most museum and art-related fields, there are also the added layers of how to implement, store, and disseminate the data gathered in an interview. Since the answers to these questions are hardly black and white, VoCA’s workshops encourage participants to examine the grey area, considering how the narrative of a contemporary work and the artist’s intention can change over time, and the ways the model of stewardship is shifting with it.


In every instance, we feel that the workshop is just a beginning. We hope that the relationships and conversations continue beyond the workshop itself and stimulate innovative programs that amplify the artist’s voice.


The workshop module is tailored to each group to accommodate their individual experiences and concerns. Using the established framework as our foundation, we work closely to craft a workshop agenda that addresses the questions and topics that are of greatest interest and relevance to the participants.

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and as the need for robust digital programming continues to grow, VoCA has adapted the workshop module to a virtual format with great success. Going forward, we will aim to host these workshops both virtually and in-person, and are committed to collaborating with our partners to find the arrangement that best suits their needs.


These workshops provide an open, collaborative space where thought-leaders from all arts disciplines and departments can come together to find common ground, and dig deep into the questions of legacy, materiality, and meaning that drive our work. We at VoCA have learned a great deal from engaging in these dialogues, and it is our goal to spark the conversation in those communities and locations that are eager to join in.

This workshop was fabulous! VoCA has really fine-tuned the process, coming up with a fantastic and amazingly varied program that combines scholarly fascination, guided discussion, and free-form conversations that allow us to explore topics in-depth along with concrete examples that help us all learn.

Mina Thompson

Associate Conservator of Objects,

Museums of New Mexico



Richard Cándida Smith
Professor Emeritus of History,
University of California at Berkeley

Robin Li
Oral Historian & writer

Jen Mergel
Director of Experience and Cultural Partnerships,
Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Steven O’Banion
Director of Conservation,
Glenstone Museum

Peter Oleksik
Media Conservator,
Museum of Modern Art


Sam Redman
Associate Professor, Department of History,
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jess Rigelhaupt
Associate Professor of History & American Studies,
University of Mary Washington

Gwynne Ryan
Freelance Conservator

Jill Sterrett
Independent arts & cultural heritage advisor

Glenn Wharton
Professor, Art History & Conservation of Material Culture,
University of California, Los Angeles

A man stands next to a shelf and describes a pipe he is holding to a group of people.

Participants enjoy a tour of the Stony Island Arts Bank lead by Theaster Gates during the Artist Interview Workshop held at the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago in 2017.



Chad Alligood
Independent Curator & Art Historian

Michael Auping
Former Chief Curator,
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Julia Blaut
Director of Curatorial Affairs,
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Suzanne Deal Booth
Philanthropist, Art Advisor, Collector

Ruth del Fresno-Guillem

Mikka Gee Conway
Chief Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer and EEO Director,
National Gallery of Art

Francesca Esmay
Director of Engagement, Conservation, and Collections Care
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Theaster Gates
Artist & Founder,
Rebuild Foundation

Lauryn Guttenplan
Deputy General Counsel,
Smithsonian Institution

Andrea R. Hanley
Chief Curator,
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Arlan Huang

Susan Lake
Collection Manager & Chief Conservator,
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Thomas Lax
Associate Curator, Department of Media & Performance Art,
Museum of Modern Art

Tom Learner
Senior Scientist
Head of the Modern & Contemporary Art Research Initiative,
Getty Conservation Institute

Kate Lewis
Agnes Gund Chief Conservator,
Museum of Modern Art

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro
Associate Director of Conservation & Research,
Whitney Museum of American Art

James McElhinney
Artist & Oral Historian

Julie McGee
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Art History
Director, Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center,
University of Delaware

Sarah Melching
Director of Conservation,
Denver Art Museum

Kate Moomaw
Associate Conservator of Modern & Contemporary Art,
Denver Art Museum

Daisy Nam
Ballroom Marfa

Solveig Nelson
Art Critic & Curator

John Outterbridge
Artist & Activist

Anne Reeve
Associate Curator,
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Rachel Rivenc
Head of Preservation & Conservation,
Getty Research Institute

Sarah Roberts
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Associate Curator of Painting & Sculpture,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Juan Roselione-Valadez
the Rubell Family Collection & Contemporary Art Foundation

Peter Samis
Associate Curator, Interpretative Media,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Tessa Shultz
Assistant Project Manager,
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Yasmeen Siddiqui
Minerva Projects

Lena Stringari
Deputy Director and Chief Conservator,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Gloria Sutton
Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History & New Media,
Northeastern University

Jeffrey Weiss
Senior Curator,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

This workshop provided a full scope of the Artist Interview experience, from the logistical to overall purpose and intention, to the ethical and historical implications. I especially appreciated seeing how the theory of the interview is put into action on a modified budget with limited staff.

Shervone Neckles-Ortiz

Artist Support Manager,

Joan Mitchell Foundation


Albright Knox Art Gallery
Brooklyn Museum Logo
CCVA logo
Dallas Museum of Art logo
Denver Art Museum logo
Getty Institute logo
Glenstone logo
guggenheim logo
Harvard Art Museums logo
Hirshhorn logo
LACMA logo
Lunder logo
Museum of Fine Arts Boston logo
Museum of Modern Art logo
NYU Institute of Fine Arts logo
Rebuild logo
Rubell logo
SF MoMA logo
Winterthur logo

VoCA’s Artist Interview Workshops were developed with the support of the Mellon Foundation, and are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mellon Foundation logo



If you are interested in hosting or crafting a Workshop for your institution, or have any questions, you can email VoCA’s Program Director, Margaret Graham, at

I sought a toolkit for the approach to the interview – what I received was a crash course in self-examination and the very nature of communication. The critical underpinnings of this kind of work were under discussion—we rarely have time in our profession to reflect on such things. What a treat.

Chad Alligood
Independent Curator & Art Historian