Is the role of the curator evolving?

30 May 2013

Increasingly, the curatorial role is focused on audience engagement and collaboration, rather than specialized knowledge.

There has been a lot of chatter in recent years about the “death of the curator.” But is the role of the curator really dead, or is it just evolving? Once a position that glorified specialized knowledge on niche-like topics, this role is expanding, becoming user-friendly and reaching beyond the walls of institutions. It has grown well beyond the selection and placement of art or artifacts in a space; it has equally become about empowering the audience, collaboration, and innovation, both in a physical space and in the virtual world.


Why is the role of curator changing?

There are many factors that have influenced this change in recent years – an emphasis on education in museums and the arts, advances in technology, racial demographic changes, the coming-of-age of the millennial generation – to name a few. Today’s curator is more like a television producer than an academic scholar – they need to capture the attention of the audience through entertainment and engagement. (Think live tweeting during a TV show and customized iPad apps). While being knowledgeable of the subject matter is important for the integrity of the arts, it’s only one slice of the pie for today’s curators.

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Photo Credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab via Compfight cc

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