2019 Venice Biennale Arts Immersion

Program Quick Facts

Location: Venice, Italy

Faculty Leader: Marci Kwon, Art & Art History

BOSP Special Programs Coordinator: Morgan Kapinos

Arrival date in Venie, Italy: September 5, 2019

Departure date from Venice, Italy: September 17, 2019

Information Session: Watch Information Session

Additional Program Requirements
Ground Rules - In order to optimize safety during the program, students will be required to agree to and sign Ground Rules that may restrict behavior throughout the program. These Ground Rules are in addition to the BOSP Participation and Assumption of Risk, Release of Claims, Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement that all students sign and agree to at the time of program application. Students’ parents/families will also need to sign these Ground Rules to confirm that they acknowledge the specific dangers of travel to the program location.

Activity Level
Light/Moderate: Activities may include city walking tours, easy/short hikes, museum and other site visits as well as an occasional physical activity such as snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking. For a full list of program activity levels refer to the Overview page.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Information for Travelers to Italy

US State Department Country Information

Visa Information
Consulate General of Italy

General Information: Visit the Overseas Seminars/Faculty-Initiated Program Overview page

Application Deadline: October 28, 2018

General Description

Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the longest running international exhibition of contemporary art. Taking the 58th Biennale as its starting point, this course will offer students a chance to engage with a wide range of contemporary art from across the world. Special attention will be paid to key issues in contemporary art, including globalization, the role of exhibitions and the art market, and the relationship between art and its immediate historical context.

One of the primary aims of this course is to place the work on display at the Biennale in conversation with the rich art historical legacy of the city of Venice. To this end, we will explore issues of migration, cultural exchange, and labor in sites including the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, the Arena Chapel in Padua, the Jewish Quarter, and the Doge’s Palace. How can art history help us understand contemporary artistic production? What is the relationship of the past and the present?

Learning Outcomes:

  • Gain familiarity with key issues in contemporary art and art history
  • Practice in-depth engagement (visual, verbal, written) with specific works of art
  • Explore Venice’s rich artistic and historical legacy, and its consequences for the present moment

Student Assignments:

  • Written diary entries
  • Final paper discussing the ramifications of the historical past for contemporary art


Situated in Northern Italy, Venice is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its location on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and at the base of two major rivers helped it become a major center of trade, finance, and art from the 13th-17th centuries. Following two full days exploring the Venice Biennale, we will switch our focus to the city of Venice itself, with walking tours of the Jewish Quarter and nearby Padua, home to Giotto’s famous Arena Chapel. We will also explore key exhibition venues in the city, including the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, the Palazzo Grassi Museum, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Scuola Grandi di San Rocco and the Gloriosa de Frai, among others. Our class sessions will be geared towards understanding the broader historical and artistic context of the city and artists we encounter.

Living and Travel Conditions

Students will stay in a converted convert in Venice, and will be provided with an en suite bathroom and shower and breakfast. Additional meals will be provided at local restaurants, and students will have opportunities to dine on their owns as well. September in Venice is beautiful, with highs in the mid-seventies and lows in the fifties. Students will need to wear layers, and be prepared to walk several miles per day.


Marci Kwonis Assistant Professor of Art & Art History. She studies American art, with a focus on issues of race, migration, and transnational exchange. She also has a great deal of experience with the contemporary art world, and has held positions at Creative Time, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Prerequisites and Expectations 

Students will be required to complete approximately 100 pages of reading before the start of the course. Students will also be expected to participate in all activities, including group meals, and complete all assignments within the given timeframe.

Application Process

Decisions will be based on application materials. There are no interviews. The program capacity is 12 students.

Grading Basis

Letter grade

Passport and Visa

Students are solely responsible for obtaining their passport and visa (if applicable). Every BOSP participant MUST have a signed passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the scheduled RETURN date from the overseas program. Students who do not have a valid passport must apply for a new or renewed passport immediately. For information on obtaining or renewing a U.S. passport please visit the State Department website.

To determine whether a visa is necessary for your program, visit the Consulate General of Italy website. You may also consult with the recommended visa service providers listed below.

VisaCentral by CIBT

VisaCentral by CIBT offers online Stanford rates, or contact the local office:

In person: 555 Montgomery St. Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94111
Walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By phone: (877) 535-0688

VisaBy Casto for Stanford Travel Program

VisaBy Casto offers special rates for Stanford online, or through the local office:

Address: 2560 North First Street, Suite 150, San Jose, CA 95131
By phone: (408) 553-4735
By email: passport@visabycasto.com

Health and Safety

Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and psychological conditions vary by culture and under the laws of the host countries. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program and should consult with their clinician.

While the benefits of international travel can be enormous, it is often associated with certain health and safety risks. Thankfully, a number of interventions exist to mitigate these risks including vaccines, use of certain medications, and specific behavior changes. Health concerns vary by the particular destination, time of year, the health of the individual, type of accommodations, length of stay and specific activities. Participants should be up to date on all their regular immunizations, check the CDC website for vaccinations and immunizations. In addition, specific travel vaccines such as typhoid, yellow fever, or rabies vaccines may be indicated. Various types of medication may also be needed to prevent life-threatening malaria or altitude illness; or to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Finally, students should learn and utilize insect precautions, food and water precautions, and general safety precautions. These can prevent illnesses such as dengue fever, schistosomiasis, HIV; or accidents such as those involving motor vehicles. In spite of all the precautions, occasionally students do become ill or sustain an injury while traveling. Thankfully, most of these are minor. However, it is critical that students have a clear plan of care in case of an emergency on their trip. The travel clinic at the Vaden Health Center has produced an online travel health module that provides comprehensive strategies to help you stay safe and healthy while traveling.

Students must review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for complete information regarding the health concerns and vaccine recommendations specific to Italy. Students must also discuss with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic or a travel health specialist about the best ways to protect their health.

Students must review the U. S. State Department’s Country Information for complete information on safety and security in Italy.

As with any foreign travel, students are advised to be alert to their surroundings, and be particularly aware of any health and safety advisories for the area in which they will be visiting. Students should consult with their health care provider(s) to be prepared for potential illness. Additional issues of personal health and safety and precautions will be discussed in detail during the mandatory pre-program preparation and upon arriving in the country.

If you are uncomfortable traveling under such conditions, you should not apply to this program.

Program Modification and Cancelation

Stanford reserves the right to cancel or modify the Program before or during its operation for any reason, including natural disasters, emergencies, low enrollment, unavailability of facilities or personnel, or compliance with the University travel policy at http://provost.stanford.edu/2017/03/03/international-travel-policy-2/.