HomeArticlesWhat’s a Curator? | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios What’s a Curator? | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios By Frank Lundy September 14, 2019 Articles, Blog 100 Comments Tags:art, Art Gallery (Building Function), art history, artists, Contemporary Art, culture, Curator (Profession), Fine Art (Industry), Green, jobs, john green, museum, museums, paintings, PBS, pbs digital studios, sarah urist green, the art assignment, theartassignment, what is a curator, What's a Curator? Related Posts Ancient space – SPRAY PAINT ART by Skech ‘Polynesian Tattoos’ The Art of Ink (Season 2) Digital Exclusive | Paramount Network How to Make Unique Handmade Arts & Crafts : Using Stickers for Handmade Arts & Crafts About Author admin 100 Comments Xenolilly December 11, 2014 A curator to me is someone who looks after art on a large scale. It doesn't have to be too large but large enough to be noticeable. This series would count for sure. As well as someone who has at least a room full of art to care for.Also, cute haircut Sarah. 🙂 Reply lesliefoundhergrail December 11, 2014 YAYYY! I'm a curator! Well, based on your ending statement. I think. The reason I call myself a curator for http://youtube.com/OneTimeStories in the first place is because I am consistently taking different stories and showcasing them in a broader context so an arc is formed. Your job function as a curator on this show overlaps with some of my work (scheduling personalities that fit together, planning rhythm of episodes, project management work, etc) so I'm assured in calling myself a curator in that aspect. But you didn't really touch on if it's a curator's job to string works of art together, at least I took your take as a one-on-one process. What are your thoughts on a curator's role, if it is, to demonstrate larger messages with different works? Reply Zakabre18 December 11, 2014 This is a really interesting question because I think of a curator as dealing with physical objects like art, but what about writing or poetry? Is the editor of an anthology a curator? Moving even further from art, what about the editor of an academic journal, are they a curator? Reply Laura Heemer December 11, 2014 I will be sharing this video with anyone who ever asks me what I do as a curator, you summed it up perfectly, thank you! I curate the collection at the Wharton Esherick Museum, a super cool art museum/artist's studio check it out! http://whartonesherickmuseum.org/ Reply David Shi December 11, 2014 Perhaps a curator is like a conductor of an orchestra — you may not have written the music, but you are in charge of the expression of that music. And then the audience charges the stage and starts making wildly improvisational jazz/techtronic sound-art on stolen instruments, playing to an empty theatre, but the street outside is full of onlookers. 🙂 Reply David Shi December 11, 2014 So, if the art created for The Art Assignment is part of a collection, how are you planning on expanding it? Are there any themes that might run through this series? Or is it more like a smorgasbord of items, an artistic buffet with a wild variety that anyone can grab from? Reply ARTiculations December 11, 2014 Among the people I work with as a docent there are curators and also sometimes "interpretive planners" and "exhibition designers". I often am not sure what the difference is between them – or if there even is one. I'm wondering if you can shed some light on how a curator's role differs from interpretive planners and exhibition designers. Or if there's really no real boundary and the responsibilities of these roles vastly depend on the institution. Reply Isabella Halladay December 11, 2014 I absolutely love this video series! I didn't really think about the legitimacy – even the plausibility – of art being made now by real live people before this series, and it's been really amazing. I've learned so much!! Reply Nippip1 December 11, 2014 Tom Baker, obviously. I know they say there are no stupid questions, but … Reply NotThatHunter December 11, 2014 What's a curator? Who knows…Who…nose… Reply Erika Ringstrom December 11, 2014 I've thought a lot about being a museum curator as a career. Although I am focused now more on history instead of art this video was wonderful. Thanks for this information! Reply Katie Behrens December 11, 2014 I loved getting a peek at what you do behind the camera, Sarah! I also love that you used the phrase "panties in a bunch." What a Midwestern saying. Thanks for all your hard work on this fabulous series! Reply fannabelle101 December 11, 2014 I'm so glad somebody finally made an easy to understand video about what a curator is! I'm studying art history and media at school and there are so many people who have a hard time just understanding why what people like us do is a thing. This will be such a useful tool for me. Thanks! Reply Kram1032 December 11, 2014 so the initial meaning of curator basically was nerd? And given the more active meaning of "caring about" in this case, it's closer to being a nerdfighter rather than being "just" nerd.So essentially, your job is to be art-nerdfighter. 🙂 Reply ljmasternoob December 11, 2014 I don't believe I am a curator of a collection of vintage sneakers because in reality I just refuse to throw my old worn out shoes away. Reply Holly Taylor December 11, 2014 I never knew a curator did so much outside of the "arranging the collection in a room" part! Sounds like an awesome job Reply Acquavallo December 11, 2014 Can the next book for your book club be Ways of Seeing by John Berger!!!!!!! Reply ArtichokeHunter December 11, 2014 Is a dramaturg a curator of theatre? Or would that only be true if dramaturgs had full season planning power? All of the stuff about contextualizing and bridging the gap to the audience rang true, but I'm currently in a position where I'm given a series of works in a pre-determined order, and only have the power to do the other stuff. Reply 07leprechaun December 11, 2014 You explained why, occupationally speaking, you still see yourself as a curator. But I would argue that your occupation doesn't have to necessarily be the reason why you are or are not a curator. For example, I am an Environmental Educator at a community college. That is my job title, so that is what I am. But, I have a degree in zoology and studied stream ecology in grad school. So I am also an ecologist, biologist, zoologist, stream ecologist, aquatic ecologist, etc. I could be unemployed all together and I don't see why I would suddenly become something else. I would still be a biologist or what have you, because my education says I am, and that's how I choice to identify. When talking with people in the education world, I may identify myself as an educator. I worked as a cashier for a couple of months while I was waiting on my educator job. I wasn't in school anymore, and not yet employed, but I was never not a biologist. I guess what I am saying is it's not your job that defines you anyway. It's your education, your experiences, and most importantly, your passion and how you choose to identify yourself. Reply AndreaMGC December 12, 2014 Do you think that would also apply then to libraries? If you consider books to be art, that is. Or is someone who works in a bookstore a curator? Because they know a lot about the types of books, have done the readings, and know how to present them (like on their little promotion tables.. etc). Just a random question that popped into my head. lol Reply MochiExtra December 12, 2014 i think the difference here is in the broader vs technical term. for example, i have a music blog dedicated to a certain kind (not genre!) of music and mixes, and i'd say i curate that blog, because i take care specifically for what i post there and, as the admin, i'd argue that i'm the authority on what to post, because i know what i want to be on there. but curate here is used in the broader sense, so i think you have to be careful with how you use the word and what you mean by it. Reply John O'Briant December 12, 2014 I'm a music teacher – the first thing that came to mind for me was a conductor – they have to know their repertoire inside and out, they select what repertoire to present to an audience, they (often) help educate their audience about the works and why they deserve your attention and they are an active participant in the process of interpreting the score and helping the musicians to recreate that work for an audience. Reply Riley DeHority December 12, 2014 I like the highlights video and that blog The Critique Assignment, because they both curate art assignment responses and make me see them as a whole / in new light. I noticed your white board though… are we running out of Art Assignments?? I hope that if it's what YOU want, you find funding, support, and personal emotional energy for more seasons after this one. I really love these videos and I love contributing 🙂 Reply Eric Metz December 12, 2014 Great Video! I continually love this show. Reply Creatrix Tiara December 12, 2014 Ah thank you for this! Curation is something I've been interested in for a while, but it's a little tricky to get a handle on what the job entails, since all the curators I've seen do all sorts of different things. The main commonality seems to be "find a theme, figure out who belongs in it, gather the work together, provide context" – but the way this happens can differ widely. How would you recommend someone get work as an independent curator? I saw that you answered about being a museum curator, but I'm curious to learn from people who do this independently (or I suppose more freelance-y). Reply Quixotic1018 December 12, 2014 I could be a curator. I'd be great at curating, I'd be "The Great Curator." I could retire and do that. I could retire and be the curator of this place. Reply Hiandbye95 December 12, 2014 And to think Ms. Sarah Green and her amazing content was only existent in myths (the yeti) or not existent at all (the Art Assignment) until about 2 years ago. Reply Mark Ruff ruff alo December 12, 2014 What happens after February? That can't be it, this thing is just starting Reply Meg Gilbert December 12, 2014 Great episode! I like the closer-in framing. Not having the desk adds a lot of warmth. (Nice seeing you on P4A today too!) Reply Lucy Farcnik December 12, 2014 Can we have someone do a writing assignment? Reply Jessica L. December 12, 2014 Sarah, you are so great. I definitely feel like curation is the bridge between expert and audience. The curator is the person who is deeply in whatever but is also thinking about how to engage other people with that whatever. I mean, it's not just that, because that doesn't include the collection aspect, but it's an important piece. Reply angellover02171 December 13, 2014 We can see your booze. Reply Neeti Kanodra December 13, 2014 I really enjoyed watching this video and I respect the work of 21st century internet-esque curators like Maria Popova (of Brainpickings) and Chris Anderson (of TED). I also like the Curator's Code site http://www.curatorscode.org/ I have observed that the verb 'curate' is used more liberally now and I am glad that you are discussing this topic and thank you for sharing your definition! Reply Allan Edwards December 13, 2014 So you're saying Kanye West isn't a curator after all? Reply S. Merlin December 13, 2014 Guys, this is kind of weird, but bear with me here. Isn't Google a curator? Tumblr? Maybe the internet is full of programs that are really just custom auto-curators. I could be wrong about this, but here are some examples: Google gathers everything on the internet and sorts it, logs it, and makes it easier to comb through. Isn't that curation? Google logs information about websites, and it also sorts collections of websites in a visual way. Just as a librarian might be a curator of books, Google is a curator of websites. Tumblr is a massive network of curators and their content. Tumblr bloggers create and sort through media relating to a certain topic (or just anything they/their followers find interesting), and collect the best of it on their blogs. Blog curators share and trade with other curators, create and organize content on their own blogs, and view it on other blogs. Tumblr is a crazy network of curators that Tumblr itself sorts through and presents to it's users.. the curators. In a way, Tumblr is curating curators. Facebook collaborates with it's users individually to curate their social lives and their own public images. It helps it's users along as they decide what friends they want to see what posts from, and the users can curate their own public image on their profile pages. Stumbleupon also collaborates with it's users, in an effort to basically curate the entire internet. You give the program parameters that help sort what you're interested in seeing, and Stumbleupon sorts the internet and shows you what it thinks you'll be most interested in. As you browse content, you tell Stumbleupon whether or not you're enjoying seeing what you're seeing, and based on that it sorts the internet further. These are just a few examples of curation on the internet. Or maybe these programs are just information sorters. What do you guys think? Are these programs curators or something else? Reply Michael DeAngelis December 13, 2014 I have no problem with the definition of curator that you presented and your justification for how it applies to atypical collections. However, I think bringing up wat you said at thte begenning of the video is important: Why do people call themselves curators? I find that maybe some people who "curate" atypical collections call themselves curators as a way of making what they do seem more official or important. A curator is considered an expert, so calling yourself a curator legitimizes your work. Whether or not it is deserved isn't really the question, but it's more about how our culture interacts with people we deem curators as cultural gatekeepers. Maybe, then, it's inappropriate to label oneself a curator but it's something that is applied to you by others that recognize your expertise. It's a bit arbitrary to be the person who recognizes your own expertise, and that's why I think most curators have advanced degrees or work for an institution: there are other experts that can verify this person's expertise. Reply Michael Kidd December 14, 2014 She is so cool, and the video is great also. Reply John Hankla December 14, 2014 Yay for the evolving museum. Reply Sw. Avinash Mercado December 14, 2014 Why are you putting music in every YouTube video?, it makes it hard to focus on the person that is talking, it becomes just noise, music is effective with short messages, not with a long speech like this one :/ Reply Hannah Dickson December 14, 2014 I think that this is a great definition/explanation of what a curator is. Next time I get a blank look after saying that I'm going to school to be a curator, I'll show them this! Reply Heather Hsu December 14, 2014 Brilliant, thank you. Reply Abigail Chorley December 14, 2014 Anyone else freeze frame at about 4:20? Reply Mark Susskind December 14, 2014 I was once called "curator" by some online service, but I certainly didn't know my material inside and out. What I did was more like maintain a phone book, but with hyperlinks instead of phone numbers and house addresses. Reply Fraser Radford December 14, 2014 I smiled when I saw Herb and Dorothy Vogel. I'd love to be able to amass a collection like theirs one day albeit in a larger apartment. I'm also hoping to have a few of my own works in well known collections, preferably when I'm alive, but we shall see. Reply Leila Jennings December 14, 2014 This sounds like such a fun thing to do, even as a pastime! To work as a professional curator in a museum, is there any specific requirements, like a degree? Reply merksmirs December 14, 2014 To be perfectly honest I never had an idea what the word curator meant due to my being German. I just thought they were people who like… Had a gallery or presented art somehow by what I heard (which as this video has taught me isn't entirely false) It's really nice to actually know what a curator is by Sarah Urist Greens definition though. Seeing as you're the only curator I have ever had the great pleasure if kinda-sorta knowing Reply Jack Archer December 16, 2014 Question 1: People in the blogging and publishing world hate on the word curator because they don't think someone has "earned it" unless they've been paid by a museum like you have. What do you think of independent publishers/bloggers with an audience that curate things around a subject they're an expert in? When does one go from "random person on Tumblr" to "curator," if at all. Question 2: Are all magazine editors "curators"? Reply Go VERB a NOUN. December 17, 2014 Augh, this is a really great video. I started up a database of online educational resources so that anyone with an internet connection can find a way to learn stuff they care about, and I (hesitantly but proudly admit that I) call myself this database's curator (as well as the curator of my channel, which is filled with interviews of people who make those resources). The way you talk about curatorial duties in this video got me introspective about my usage of the term, and ultimately reaffirmed that I'm using the right terminology… But it also highlighted some things that I can/need to do to make sure the title is rightfully earned, and also maintained. Reply Ida Sanchez December 17, 2014 I'm confused. Are these in between episodes for the art assignment as we await a new season or has the art assignment disposed of their assignment-esque format? Love the show either way Reply SHIN SHIN December 18, 2014 We tackled this issue during art in years 11 and 12 visual arts. It's quite interesting how the word evolved. Reply Yadisf Haddad December 22, 2014 Sarah, do you have a complementary bibliography on this subject? I know that this isn't a lecture or a graduate's class, but some of the concepts about curatorship in this video were really interesting, and i'd like to research further if possible. Thanks a lot for the amazing effort. Reply Vanya Boon December 22, 2014 This is a perfect example of something I didn't know I wanted to know! Reply Didier Ouellet December 24, 2014 Woah there's a lot of things that are included in your definition of a curator. My main language is french, and we don't really have a word equivalent to curator… the closest would be "conservateur" (which I'm trying to become). But, your definition of an independent curator, for example would be referred to as a "commissaire d'exposition" where I live. Usually, in museums here curators are really focused on the collections, and the rest is handled by other people. I suppose that the situation is really different from a country to another… even from a museum to another! Reply Calliope CeCe December 27, 2014 thanks for giving me a bit of an insught of my future job 🙂 xx Reply Daniel Jean-Baptiste March 13, 2015 Thank you for your wonderful explanation of "Curator". It was was very helpful. Reply John Wilson March 25, 2015 If I can call myself an artist when I produce art for no one but myself these days, then you, with all your skills, are certainly a curator…and an educator. Reply catherinereadsalot July 8, 2015 Odd question, but where did you get that necklace?? Reply Rodrigo Del Río July 28, 2015 I have just found your channel on youtube. I think your work is amazing. There should really be spanish subtitles, so in that way I could share it with people in Chile. Loved your Rothko video too.Thanks again for your amazing work! Reply Karen Crisler January 6, 2016 I loved this podcast! I never knew so much thought and intentionality was behind curating. I appreciate all the museums and galleries I have been to so much more now! Reply Colin Lievens February 4, 2016 I loved this video and I'm really interested in working in the art industry and art galleries. I keep being told that i should become an art critic (I'm only 16 and not there yet) but I don't actually know what being an art critic actually involves and I really love how u explain art and the art world so i would really value an episode of the art assignment about what an art critic does because similarly to benign a curator it seems to be a very vague and misused term Reply kathy pecchia February 27, 2016 slow down Reply Eugenio Manrique March 29, 2016 Hello! Please I need your help, I'm from Spain and I can ask for a scholarship but the rules says I need to have a confirmation on paper from the Center or Museum that I'm going to be but I don't know how to do it? Should I ask the director of the Museum or Center or What should I do? Can somebody help me pleasee! Love your videos, you are very talented. Reply KitchenWitch May 14, 2016 Hi, Sarah! I found this channel about a year ago and have loved following along. I came back to re-watch this particular post and, because of fairly recent changes in my life, I had new and different thoughts about your definition of "curator." I recently finished my MA in Art Museum Education and was lucky enough to be hired full-time as a museum educator several months ago. It is a fantastic job, and I love that I am tasked with finding ways to facilitate connections between my museum and the community it serves. Before I worked in an institution alongside curators, I thought that the role of the curator was very different than that of the educator, and so I saw some of what was said in this video as an encroachment on what I perceived as "my territory." What I appreciate now that I work in this space is that my job as an educator dovetails so wonderfully with the job of the curator. We each bring different layers of expertise to the table so that our visitors have every opportunity to make real connections with the art and with one another. It is interesting to me that so many museums (mine included) maintain separate "curatorial" and "education" departments despite the fact that our jobs and goals almost demand that we work symbiotically. I've seen a growing number of museums turn to "interpretation" departments instead, combining the two, to reflect that similarity. I know this is an old video, but I wanted to comment nonetheless because I find this topic, and finding a place for my role as an educator within the museum world, to be so relevant to me right now. Love from Texas! Reply Tommbino May 15, 2016 Hi! I'm currently studying graphic design in a accademy of fine arts. This year I discovered the role of the curator, which I did't know the existance before. So now I'd really like to become one. Here were I live to become a curator you need to go to a secondary university, so tecnically I could study for it. But also I found out that it would be better to study history of art at univesity. So, do you think it is possible to become a curator only studying at the secondary university or not? Thank You (excuse my english) Reply AngelO ortiz November 13, 2016 A curator is someone that can scramble an redifine a serious of items or collections.. and proyect your vision , or your spiritual insanity to make something genuine .. in my case: multiple collections of art in an art gallery in San Diego. Reply Maryna Sherstobitova January 8, 2017 Great explanation for what a curator is! I think a curator could be a person who collects something special to them. Reply Nicole Castro January 9, 2017 I like how she said that being a curator is similar to being the "middle man" in between the artist and their audience. It certainly puts in perspective what a curator, independent or not, actually does and how much work goes into how they present the art to the audience. That is what a curator is to me, someone who has knowledge about the work or pieces enough to talk about it and explain it to an outside person. Reply WeSpeak March 9, 2017 I don't know wtf you just said but I'm a curator cuz my rhymes are the cure for this hip-hop pandemic. Reply Tasri Jatnika April 29, 2017 cool, clear and really help…thanks Reply discopineapple April 30, 2017 Sarah Urist Green, I'm in love with you. Can we be besties please?<3 an astrophysicist in her 20s Reply m m June 23, 2017 I love this channel Reply Lady B July 7, 2017 I love this video! Your work is amazing, thaks for it! Reply Noah Sabol October 3, 2017 ojo penis Reply Matt Ahlschwede November 18, 2017 You think about conservation, and what's missing from the collection, but do you consider what needs to be removed? That is important as well, perhaps more important, depending on the context. Where is the line between curating and editing drawn? Reply Dana Mahmoud December 18, 2017 EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Thank you! Reply Cdmc Network January 7, 2018 how is law study (as provided by some Universities as Master's program in curating including Art, Management, and law) related to curating? Reply Ryan Fitzgerald February 3, 2018 the music got really distracting in this video Reply Awaken Artist February 26, 2018 So Powerful Sarah, Miss curator. thanks for the knowledge Reply Ucheart Ucheart March 17, 2018 Fantastic Reply charbel bou ghannam April 16, 2018 Would you like to see my Art ??? Reply Arturo Cabrera August 11, 2018 @pewdiepie curates memes! Reply Shubho Sengupta August 14, 2018 Hello Sarah I am glad that I stumbled upon your series … and have been ardently watching every capsule you make … it's really very informative engaging and I must say very positive…i am a television professional from Mumbai.. I also am a self taught and exhibited artist in my late forties … Let me cut to the chase … I will be honoured if you to curate my art .. I will send you my links if you agreeAwaiting your replyRegardsShubho Reply Real Estate Development August 28, 2018 Kkyart.com Reply Kodex I August 29, 2018 I love these videos, they have really opened my eyes to a lot of art I hadn't seen before. Thanks for the effort you put into this channel! Reply Adrian Stclair September 12, 2018 I'd like to be the kind of curator you are haha Reply ALEXANDER SCHROEDER October 19, 2018 I am a "curator" of our own collection. Schroeder's Collection Reply ALEXANDER SCHROEDER October 19, 2018 to care for, to see to, and to worry about Reply Khushbu Malviya October 27, 2018 I love the art cooking ❤️ Reply sine theeta November 6, 2018 cute Reply Sandhiya Ann November 6, 2018 My mom:human curator Reply ketan kanjariya November 24, 2018 Here in India curator is a boss and teacher . Sad but true. Reply Tony Monk II December 3, 2018 I want to be a curator now! Reply Kaydee Keen January 7, 2019 This video gives someone a wider range on what the term curator means, which I am sure for this class will be somewhat important. Much like the women in the video, I believe a curator is someone who has knowledge of what they are caring for. A person that has knowledge and experience in art, music, shoes or even novelty hot wheel cars should be able to give themselves the name of a curator whether they work for a known institution or not. This institution, such as a museum simply gives the curator more of a claim or believability in their background. It makes a curator easier to believe, even if they had the same knowledge whether they worked for the said institution or not. Reply Tryptamine Odyssey February 10, 2019 Why is there a bottle of stoli on your bookshelf haha Reply Ʌrchetype March 2, 2019 "The curator is the eternal tyrant and benefactor of mankind's artistic endevors." Reply Mikail Imthiyaz March 16, 2019 so that means that my mom is a child curator… cool Reply Lando Notes April 18, 2019 REMEMBER BY LANDO NOTES IS OUT NOW TAKE A LISTEN 🤪🔥🤟🏽🥀 Reply PhyZeik April 29, 2019 Is this girl even real lol Reply sammy tong May 31, 2019 I googled the term curator and never found any good understanding until your explanation. Thanks. Reply Owen Mollsen July 31, 2019 so cool Reply Add a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment:*Name:* Email Address:* Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.