Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Curators versus Collectors

My wife and I went to the opening of an exhibit at our local art Museum, the Orange County Museum of Art. Possibly because nearby Laguna Beach has a worldwide reputation as being artist friendly, with its annual Pageant of the Masters and Sawdust and several other festivals, or maybe because OC seems to support the arts in all fashions, we expected and were treated to a unique and very interesting display titled “2010 California Biennial”.

As members, we had a chance to hear a presentation by the curator prior to a guided tour of the exhibit. The Curator was not able to attend, but her assistant a very nice young lady who is in the process of becoming a curator was a fine substitute.

I have recently become intrigued by what makes a curator a curator and asked our presenter if she could answer the question. Her response surprised me. She told us that the field is relative new as regards formal training and an associated degree (PhD). Only in something like the last 14 years has there been a program nationally and in California I believe there are only two schools offering one. Prior to the formalization of these programs, museums had curators who might have taken their collecting to the next level, establishing credentials initially by studying collections of others interested in the same period or theme.

My question was relevant because in my soon-to-be-published book, Harnessing a Heritage” I suggest that young children and grandchildren could enhance their knowledge of their own heritage by visiting museums and researching why the Curator chose the collection he or she did. Now I am more certain than ever that this is true and that my book note, “Who knows, you may get invited to see your own curator’s exhibit” rings true.

Have any of you noticed that your children have such an interest?

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