Due to the recent concerns about COVID-19, and recommendations from the CDC and local officials, VoCA has decided to postpone all upcoming programs until further notice. While we are disappointed that we are not able to gather together in person at this time, we know this is the right decision for the health and safety of our colleagues. Thank you for understanding.

For announcements 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 Andrew W. 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 Professor Richard Cándida Smith and VoCA Board President 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 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 500 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


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


Artist Interview Workshop held at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 2020.



While many conservators, curators, and educators are expected to conduct interviews regularly as stewards of contemporary collections, they are often uncertain about how to approach this 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.


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 with the host institution to craft a workshop agenda that addresses the questions and topics that are of greatest interest and relevance to the local community.


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.


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.

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

Jen Mergel

Steven O’Banion
Director of Conservation,
Glenstone Museum

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

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

Gwynne Ryan
Freelance Conservator

Jill Sterrett
Interim Director,
The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago

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


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

Mikka Gee Conway
Associate General Counsel,
J. Paul Getty Trust

Francesca Esmay
Conservator, Panza Collection,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Theaster Gates
Artist & Founder,
Rebuild Foundation

Lauryn Guttenplan
Deputy General Counsel,
Smithsonian Institution

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
Marcia Tucker Senior Research Fellow,
New Museum of Contemporary Art

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

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



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

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation



If you are interested in bringing a Workshop to your city or institution, or have any questions, you can email VoCA’s Program & Communications Manager, 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