I was recently asked to speak at The British Museum's Curator of The Future Conference and as I do with most things, decided to not speak about the future but
However, I ended up on a speculative narrative nonetheless. Cue in, Museum of The
We're interested in inverting the discussions around what makes a good curator
"A basic pattern of assumptions invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration" Edgar Shein (2002)
The curator of the future, then must be one who is adequately able to adapt and respond to these changing assumptions and integrate such patterns within the broad knowledge that he/she holds as a cultural innovator. I really want to invert how the role of a curator has hitherto been viewed as one who aesthetically and meticulously displays collections to make the best sense to one who responds to how a group or variety of audiences comprehend such collections? And this inversion entirely transforms how museums & galleries have so far functioned as social entities.
I, as a visitor or an audience member am used to consuming information in a certain way be it via my phone or talking wirelessly while crossing the street or even listening to podcasts as I drive and these have huge implications to what we come to expect from cultural institutions as a society. It is no longer my obligation as a social being to fully grasp and train to participate within how a museum or gallery works rather if you want my attention, I expect you to deliver the information/artworks/collections in a fashion that is accessible to my unique lifestyle.
This might come as a shock to most cultural professionals, but this really isn't anything new. Some
So who is the Curator of The Future? I think the more important question we need to ask ourselves is, where is the museum going? And the place that your museum/gallery is most likely to inhabit (digital space, virtual reality or the traditional White Cube even) is the kind of curator you need to be looking to train for the future.
Thank you to The British Museum Team for having me at the conference, it was an experience I will treasure for a long time to come (into the future!). If you are a museum professional or a curator and are reading this, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this post via a comment below. If you want to get in touch with me personally, please do drop me an email.