One of the perks of being a research placement at the British museum is the possibility to go to events you normally wouldn’t have the chance to participate in. Today I went to the Curator of the Future conference. Afterwards I realised that I had no clear definition of the word ‘curator’ and consulted WordNet:
curator: the custodian of a collection (as a museum or library)
However, presentations at the session the Curator and Digital revolved around new ways of user engagement and story telling. I started wondering whether a curators role is shifting from being a custodian of a collection to the person we turn to for putting an object in its proper context.
A quote Zoe Hughes (Natural History Museum) provided was “people don’t care about your collection”. Considering this as a bit harsh, she wondered whether this was because they don’t know about the collection or don’t care about the topic and in response started tweeting about her fossil cephalopods. Is this something new, did curators previously not consider their public?
Anra Kennedy (Culture24) posed that the traditional ‘supply oriented’ approach of offering content does not work anymore and that this has to shift to considering audiences in areas such as social, local and mobile. But a point which Chris Michaels (British Museum) made during the discussion about digital publishing was: “If people do not know what is in you museum, why come?”. So should future story telling of curators be guided by the public? Isn’t it dangerous to let the public guide the topics of stories, while they might not even be aware whats in your museum? Digital publishing could also be an opportunity to show people what otherwise would be hidden.
Thanks to Sarah Mengler for pointing me to this conference!