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Bruce W. Ferguson Papers

Identifier: MSS-023

Scope and Contents

The Bruce W. Ferguson Papers contains copies of exhibition catalogues, magazine issues, and other published materials within which Ferguson is the sole author or his writing appears. The collection includes some unique materials such as inscribed copies of publications and drafts of Ferguson’s writing. The collection especially reflects Ferguson’s work in the contemporary art world in Canada, especially in Vancouver. Ferguson's national and international reputation is well reflected in the wide-ranging scope of the publications included. In addition to the published materials, the collection contains manuscript materials related to Ferguson's work.


  • 1976-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1978-2019


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Appointments are necessary to consult manuscript and archival materials. Access copies for media materials may not be available yet. Please contact the CCS Archivist for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection use is subject to all copyright laws. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Director of the Library and Archives at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Please contact for more information.

Biographical / Historical

Bruce Willis Ferguson (1946-2019) was a curator, critic, and academic well known for his work curating dozens of national and international exhibitions, as well as for his leadership roles in numerous art institutions.

Ferguson was born in Canada and received his B.A. in Art History from the University of Saskatchewan, and his M.A. in Communication from McGill University in Montreal. He received an honorary doctorate from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2006. From 1989-1990 Ferguson worked with Marieluise Hessel, art collector and co-founder of the Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, in developing a video and film component of her art collection. Ferguson advocated for the pedagogical importance of including works in these formats in an art collection utilized by curatorial studies students. Ferguson was also involved in some of the early planning meetings for the development of the MA program in curatorial studies at CCS Bard. In 1992 Ferguson received a Getty Senior Research Fellowship grant alongside Reesa Greenberg and Sandy Nairne. Using the grant they published the seminal essay anthology on exhibition theory and curatorial studies, Thinking About Exhibitions (Routledge: 1996). He was the founding director and first biennial curator of SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico (1993). In 1999 Ferguson was named dean of Columbia University School of the Arts in New York. Ferguson taught at numerous institutions, such as the sculpture department at Yale University, and the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the former president and executive director of the New York Academy of Art. In the 2000s Ferguson led the formation of Future Arts Research (F.A.R.) at the University of Arizona where he commissioned works by numerous artists, including choreographer Elizabeth Streb’s 2010 performance, STREB: BRAVE, facilitated dialogue across disciplines and amongst the university and the greater community in Phoenix, and helped realize a vision for international arts research and cultural dialogue through symposia and artists’ residencies.

In 2010 Ferguson left his position as director of F.A.R. work as dean of humanities and social sciences at the American University in Cairo where he worked until 2013. In 2013 he left Cairo when he was named vice chairman at Louise Blouin Media. While on the board there he provided editorial oversight for publications such as Art + Auction and Modern Painters. In 2015 Ferguson was named president of Otis College of Art and Design. He stepped down from his position as president in 2019.

In addition to his work in institutions, Ferguson was a critic, writer, and curator for more than thirty years. He curated over 35 exhibitions for institutions such as the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Winnipeg and Vancouver Art Galleries in Canada, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. He organized exhibitions in the international biennales of São Paulo, Sydney, Venice, and Istanbul. His writing was published in numerous art publications, including Canadian Art,Artforum,Art in America,Art + Text,Flash Art,Bomb Magazine, Art Press,and Parachute.


4 Linear Feet (in 5 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Bruce W. Ferguson Papers consists of the collected, published writings of Bruce W. Ferguson. Spanning his decades long career as a critic and curator, the collection includes catalogues, magazines, and essay anthologies in which Ferguson was a contributor or the sole author. Beginning in 1976 and continuing through 2019, the collection provides published documentation of Ferguson’s work as a writer, critic, and curator of contemporary art. In addition to the broader body of his work, the collection reflects his work in the contemporary art world in Canada, as well as his work as a curator with national and international biennials of São Paulo, Sydney, Kyiv and others.


The collection is divided into four series.
Series I: Published Materials
Series II: Manuscripts Accretion 1, September 2019 Accretion 1, September 2019, Oversized Series I
All series are arranged alphabetically by title in chronological order in order to emphasize that the collection serves as a reference aid for Ferguson’s body of work.

Guide to the Bruce W. Ferguson Papers
Finding aid prepared by Bel Simek and Hannah Mandel, 2019; collection processed by Bel Simek and Hannah Mandel, 2019.
June 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Center for Curatorial Studies Library & Archives Repository

Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson 12504-5000 USA
845-758-2442 (Fax)