2020 Middlebrook Prize | Call for Submissions


2020 Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators – Call for Submissions

Founded in 2012, the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators is awarded annually to an emerging Canadian curator under 30 with the aim to foster social innovation and curatorial excellence in Canada. Hosted and administered by the Art Gallery of Guelph, the winner is selected by a jury of arts leaders and receives a $5,000 honorarium as well as mentorship in the development of an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Guelph.

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, January 17, 2020, at 5 pm. The winner will be announced on March 5, 2020 and the exhibition will be presented from September 17 to December 13, 2020 at the Art Gallery of Guelph. By supporting and mobilizing Canadian creative talent, the Middlebrook Prize aims to inspire positive social change through creativity in an era of ongoing and unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural upheaval. Proposals should emphasize contemporary Canadian art with attention to audience, community and public.


Julie Crooks is Associate Curator, Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). She received a PhD in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK, based on her dissertation Alphonso Lisk-Carew and Early Photography in Sierra Leone. Julie’s research focuses on the history of photography in West Africa and the African diaspora. In 2017, she was the curator of Free Black North at the AGO, and in 2018, Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires. She is also co-curator of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) exhibition, Here We are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art (2018), which has travelled to the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal and opened at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in May 2019.

Sally Frater is the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Guelph. She holds an Honors BA in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and an MA in Contemporary Art from The University of Manchester/Sotheby’s Institute of Art. The former Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ulrich Museum of Art, she has also organized exhibitions for the Luminato Festival, McColl Centre for Art and Innovation, Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Project Row Houses, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, The Print Studio/Centre[3] for Print and Media Art, and A Space Gallery. A former Core Critical Studies Fellow at the Glassell School at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, she recently curated the exhibition Interweavings at Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice.

Lisa Volpe is the Associate Curator, Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She earned her MA at Case Western Reserve University and her PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before arriving in Houston, she was the Curator of the Wichita Art Museum where she oversaw all areas of the museum’s collection. Additionally, she held various curatorial roles at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), and fellowships at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her current project, Georgia O’Keeffe: Photographer, examines the little-known trove of artistic photographs created by O’Keeffe in the latter half of her career.

Applications must include:

  • Letter of introduction: applicants should articulate their curatorial values and philosophy and what the Middlebrook Prize means to them as a career-building opportunity
  • One-page exhibition proposal: proposal must include contact information, curatorial statement, list of artists, and description of potential outreach programming
  • Exhibition budget up to $10,000 including: artist fees (per CARFAC fee schedule for Category II institutions), shipping via an accredited art transportation company, any special equipment requirements for the exhibition, a description of unique or unusual installation requirements, projected travel/accommodation expenses for artists/curator
  • One sample of critical writing: curatorial essay or published article/review, for example
  • Curriculum vitae: current, maximum 3 pages
  • Support images (10): with descriptions (artist name, title, date, medium, dimensions) including 5 images supporting exhibition proposal and 5 images documenting past curatorial work
  • Floor plan: detailing the proposed layout of works (download the floor plan)


  • The award winner must be under 30 years of age by December 31, 2020 and is required to demonstrate proof of age on signing of the exhibition contract
  • The Prize is open to Canadian citizens, as well as non-Canadians currently living and working in Canada
  • If the Prize is awarded to a non-Canadian curator, they must be resident in Canada for the full term of the Prize (March through December 2020)

Important Dates:

Call for Submissions: November 18, 2019 – January 17, 2020
Prize Announcement: March 5, 2020
Exhibition Dates: September 17 – December 13, 2020

Applications are to be submitted in a single PDF document, with the subject line Middlebrook Prize, to info@artgalleryofguelph.ca

The Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators is made possible through the support of the Centre Wellington Community Foundation Middlebrook Social Innovation Fund, The Guelph Community Foundation Musagetes Fund, as well as private donations.

For more information about the prize as well as past winners and their projects, please visit middlebrookprize.ca.

Art Gallery of Guelph
358 Gordon Street
Guelph, ON N1G 1Y1