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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Curator (from Latin cura, care), means manager, overseer.

Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections. The object of a traditional curator's concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it be inter alia artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. More recently, new kinds of curators are emerging: curators of digital data objects, and biocurators.


Curator responsibilities

In smaller organizations, a curator may have sole responsibility for the acquisition and care of objects. The curator will make decisions regarding what objects to collect, oversee their care and documentation, conduct research based on the collection, provide proper packaging of art for transport, and share that research with the public and scholarly community through exhibitions and publications. In very small volunteer-based museums, such as local historical societies, a curator may be the only paid staff member.

In larger institutions, the curator's primary function is as a subject specialist, with the expectation that he or she will conduct original research on objects and guide the organization in its collecting. Such institutions can have multiple curators, each assigned to a specific collecting area (e.g. Curator of Ancient Art, Curator of Prints and Drawings, etc.) and often operating under the direction of a head curator. In such organizations, the physical care of the collection may be overseen by museum collections managers or museum conservators, and documentation and administrative matters (such as insurance and loans) are handled by a museum registrar.

Other definitions

In the United Kingdom, the term curator is also applied to government employees who monitor the quality of contract archaeological work under Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning (PPG 16) and are considered to manage the cultural resource of a region. In the museum setting, a curator in the United Kingdom may also be called a "keeper".

In the United States, the Board of Curators, which consists of nine members appointed by the state governor, is the governing body of the University of Missouri.

More recently, advances in new technologies have led to a further widening of the role of curator. This has been focused in major art institutions internationally and has become an object of academic study and research. In contemporary art, the title curator is given to a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator often is responsible for writing labels, catalog essays, and other supporting content for the exhibition. Such curators may be permanent staff members, be "guest curators" from an affiliated organization or university, or be "freelance curators" working on a consultant basis. The late twentieth century saw an explosion of artists organizing exhibitions. The artist-curator has a long tradition of influence. Notable among these was Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the Royal Academy, London.

In some American organizations, the term curator is also used to designate the head of any given division of a cultural organization. This has led to the proliferation of titles such as "Curator of Education" and "Curator of Exhibitions". This trend has increasingly been mirrored in the United Kingdom in such institutions as Ikon, Birmingham, UK and Baltic, Gateshead, UK.

In Australia and New Zealand, the person who prepares a sports ground for use (especially a cricket ground) is known as a curator. This job is equivalent to that of groundsman in some other cricketing nations.

In France archive and museum curator posts are essentially reserved for French citizens (European citizenship does not apply) and recruitment is by special competition for state official service posts.

Education and training

Curators generally hold a higher academic degree in their subject, typically a Doctor of Philosophy or a master's degree in subjects such as history, history of art, archaeology, anthropology, or classics.[1][2][3] Curators are also expected to have contributed to their academic field, for example, by delivering public talks, publishing articles or presenting at specialist academic conferences.[1] It is important that curators have knowledge of the current collecting market for their area of expertise, and are aware of current ethical practices and laws that may impact their organisation's collecting.[4][5]

Recently, the increased complexity of many museums and cultural organisations has prompted the emergence of professional programmes in field such as public history, museum studies, arts management, and curating/curatorial practice.[6] In 1992, the Royal College of Art established an MA course co-funded by the Royal College of Art and the Arts Council of Great Britain, the first in Britain to specialise in curating with a particular focus on contemporary art. The course is now funded by Arts Council England, and in 2001 the course title was amended to Curating Contemporary Art to more accurately reflect the content and primary focus of the programme.[7] Other institutions that run programs in curating include Kingston University; Goldsmiths College, University of London; Birkbeck, University of London; Chelsea College of Art and Design; California College of the Arts; Bard College; University of Rennes 2—Upper Brittany and Ontario College of Art and Design. (See →External links for further information on courses.)

See also


  1. ^ a b Carly Chynoweth, How do I become a museum curator? 22 December 2006, Times Online
  2. ^ Valarie Kinkade, Day in the life: curator. American Association of Museums
  3. ^ Stephanie A. Harper, How to become a museum curator. 6 July 2009, Edubook
  4. ^ A code of ethics for curators. 2009, American Association of Museums Curators Committee
  5. ^ Combatting Illicit Trade: Due diligence guidelines for museums, libraries and archives on collecting and borrowing cultural material. October 2005, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  6. ^ Niru Ratnam, Hang it all. 9 March 2003, The Observer
  7. ^ Curating contemporary art. Royal College of Art

External links



1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CURATOR (Lat. for "one who takes care," curare, to take care of), in Roman law the "caretaker" or guardian of a spendthrift (prodigus) or of a person of unsound mind (furiosus), and, more particularly, one who takes charge of the estate of an adolescens, i.e. of a person sui juris, above the age of a pupillus, fourteen or twelve years, according to sex, and below the full age of twenty-five. Such persons were known as "minors," i.e. minores viginti quinque annis. While the tutor, the guardian of the pupillus, was said to be appointed for the care of the person, the curator took charge of the property. The term survives in Scots law for the guardian of one in the second stage of minority, i.e. below twenty-one, and above fourteen, if a male, and twelve, if a female. Under the Roman empire the title of curator was given to several officials who were in charge of departments of public administration, such as the curatores annonae, of the public supplies of corn and oil, or the curatores regionum, who were responsible for order in the fourteen regiones or districts into which the city of Rome was divided, and who protected the citizen from exaction in the collection of taxes; the curatores aquarusn had the charge of the aqueducts. Many of these curatorships were instituted by Augustus. In modern usage "curator" is applied chiefly to the keeper of a museum, art collection, public gallery, &c., but in many universities to an official or member of a board having a general control over the university, or with the power of electing to professorships. In the university of Oxford "curators" are nominated to administer certain departments, such as the University Chest.

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