The origin of the term “curator” goes back to the Latin word cura, meaning “care taker”, but the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  of a public art gallery is not a caretaker in the sense that we use the word in reference to caring for a building and its premises or minding children.

We can think of the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  as the artistic heart of a public gallery or collecting institution. Early on in the development of the role, curators were responsible for expanding the institution’s or gallery’s  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  and for taking care of it.  They could seek out new works to purchase and choose which offers of donated works to accept (tasks now largely performed by an acquisitions committee), ensure that the works were properly maintained (now largely the role of a conservator), and ensure that works are organized (now largely the role of a  collections managerA person managing the collection of an art gallery.  or registrar) and generally cared for.

As public galleries and collecting institutions expanded, the role of the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  tended to become more specific and focused.  ContemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  curators rarely have to repair broken works or take on the task of cataloguing works in a gallery’s vault (though they generally continue to oversee these functions). While it may seem that curators have lost some of their responsibilities and therefore their power within the institution, this is not the case, as their original responsibilities were traded for the responsibility of selecting the works of art to be exhibited and deciding how the works will be displayed - a responsibility that carries a great deal of power and status.

Contemporary curators will select the artist(s) and artworks for an exhibition, whether those works are new or old, or whether they belong to the gallery’s permanent  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  or not. If they do not belong to the gallery, the  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  will conduct the necessary communications and  brokerAn agent employed to effect bargains and contracts, as a middleman or negotiator, between other persons, for a compensation commonly called brokerage. He takes no possession, as broker, of the subject matter of the negotiation. He generally contracts in the names of those who employ him, and not in his own. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  the loan of the artwork to the gallery for the exhibition. When selecting artists and their works, a  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  will take a number of factors into consideration, including:

Joe Fafard - John Diefenbaker

 

Tim Long - What is a Curator?
Jen Budney - Becoming an Associate Art Curator
Jen Budney - The Curator as Matchmaker
Jen Budney - An Exhibit Evolves
Things To Think About
  • Lately there has been some controversy over art gallery and museum collections that house artifacts from non-European cultures. Often, cultural artifacts were obtained when explorers or military leaders appropriated them from subdued or collapsed countries, their peoples and their cultures and sold them to wealthy collectors, who then eventually donated them to public collections. Do our public art galleries and museums have any responsibility for knowing or seeking out the origins of these artifacts? If so, what can or should they do? What is the curator’s role in this? Try to come up with a range of solutions by researching similar problems. Inquire into the principles, policies and procedures of galleries and museums in your own community to see how they are addressing the theme of this discussion.

  • It is inexpensive for galleries to exhibit works of art that are held and stored in their Permanent Collections, because with these exhibits they do not have to transport the works and they often do not have to pay exhibition fees. How might a gallery’s audiences or exhibition tours (numbers/statistics) be influenced, if galleries showed more Permanent Collection work or historical work, and fewer contemporary works by living artists? Might there be a downside to doing this?

  • Begin a discussion with someone: What responsibility does a public gallery have to exhibit the work of local artists, if any? Justify your position.

 

Online Activity

Create your own virtual exhibition!

Studio Activity
You have to be someone who loves art and likes to do research – someone who likes to get to the bottom of why something is the way it is. You have to have curiosity and determination and spirit. Ann Thomas, Curator, 2002

Curate a  virtualExisting not in actual fact or form, but in essence or effect in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination or of illusion. (Artlex.com)  exhibition

 

Not sure what  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  of art interests you? Then try this link to guide you to your style.

  • Cybermuse.gallery.ca (at the National Gallery of Canada) - My Style
Studio Activity

Try a number of different approaches to selecting and curating exhibitions.

Search through the ARTSask website; consider putting together  virtualExisting not in actual fact or form, but in essence or effect in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination or of illusion. (Artlex.com)  art shows using the following examples:

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning