Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Idea People

Addison curator Allison Kemmerer, Wegman curators Joan Simon and Trevor Fairbrother, and Addison Associate Director Susan Faxon enjoy the Wegman exhibition.I've mentioned before that Curators are the idea people. But what exactly does a Curator do? Instead of providing a list of duties, it might be easier to show what they (see right) do by describing what a typical week for a Curator might look like:

Monday: The day is spent in meetings. The first is with the Director to discuss ideas for upcoming shows. The next is with the loans committee to decide which objects from the collection will be lent to other institutions' exhibitions. Then, there is a meeting with the Registrars and Preparators to work on the checklist, layout, and wall color for an upcoming exhibition. If there's any time left to the day, it's used to work on writing an essay for an exhibition catalogue that was due, unfortunately, sometime last week.

Tuesday: The day is spent in front of the computer (see below), first writing the wall text for a show that opens next week, next writing to a fellow institution about a show we're thinking of borrowing next year, then, if there's any time left, working on the essay.

Wednesday: The morning is spent at the library doing research for the essay. The afternoon is spent back at the museum in the galleries laying out the artwork for the show that opens next week. One of the objects on the checklist is unexpectedly unavailable for the show so the Curator cruises the collections database to find some replacements, looks at them in storage, and makes a selection. Thankfully it fits in the space allowed on the wall.

The Curatorial department...too much to do, too little time!Thursday: The day is spent traveling to New York City, first to meet with a donor to gain support for an upcoming exhibition...the one with the catalogue with the essay. The afternoon is spent at a couple of dealers looking at potential acquisitions for the collection. There are a couple of photographs that have potential so arrangements are made to have the pieces sent to the Addison for inspection. The train rides to and from the city are spent working on the essay.

Friday: The morning is spent giving a gallery talk for a group of visitors. The afternoon is spent with a donor interested in giving some artwork from his collection to the museum. Friday evening is spent having dinner with the current artist-in-residence to discuss her ongoing project on campus.

And yes, the weekend is spent trying to finish the essay.

The Addison has two Curators, one whose expertise covers artwork created before 1950, the other artwork created after 1950 and photography. We also have a Curatorial Fellow: my fellow blog poster Jaime DeSimone. And we have a Curatorial Associate who tries to make order from the chaos of all those Curatorial ideas.

The question is, where do the Curators find time to come up with their ideas? Only the Curators know. But one thing's for sure, without their ideas, their jobs may become less hectic, but the museum would be a very boring place indeed!

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