Module 3 – Curatorial Strategies

Guiding questions:

  • What and who is a curator?
  • From Idea to Reality: Steps to develop an exhibition?
  • How to find an appropriate strategy to produce content?
  • When to work collaboratively?

In the past decade, the term curating has become a buzzword. The definition of the curator has become more complex, incorporating responsibilities ranging from those of specialized curators to much wider ones looked after by all-rounders: curators collect, safeguard heritage and study collections, produce knowledge, are actively involved in the lending of artefacts to other museums and exhibition halls, publish catalogues and commission art works. They work closely with museum educators, exhibition designers, conservators and prepare materials for marketing and public relations. In addition, they perform managerial tasks, design time and budget plans, and deal with presentation, media and website formats for the public. Not least, they are creative authors of exhibitions.

The status of single authorship was lent in the 1960s to a few star curators who organized exhibitions independent from institutions, defined by themselves the exhibition themes and were solely responsible for the selection of artworks and the implementation of exhibitions. This innovation of making exhibitions tagged by a curator’s name gave curating its high regard as a recognizable occupation. However, since the 1990s criticism has been expressed with regard to the permanent productivity and the image of the flexible and all-knowing curator. Instead, shared authorship in exhibition curating (collective curating) has been championed. This approach allows for the creation of various interpretive contexts and gives curators the possibility to critically question their own position and the knowledge they produce for the public. Collaborative curating promotes the involvement of several curators and third parties, like the public or artists, to open up spaces for participation, debate and interpretation.

The workshops will discuss the role of curators and the potentials and scope of different strategies in curating exhibitions. It will focus on the impact that single authorship and shared authorship have on the production of exhibition contents and contexts and illuminates their role in shaping the knowledge of the public. In practical exercises, the participants will apply methods of single and shared authorship in curating objects and will learn to put critical and self-critical judgement of content production into their work.