Why are most curators doing it wrong?


When you are curating content without a story you are not sharing your knowledge. You are sharing content. All curators do make a selection and share that. But what I miss is the story, the context. Why are they sharing this content and what is the context? What is there to learn and why?

Curation: the search

Imagine you are the curator of a museum and you have to create an exhibition of paintings of Rembrandt and let’s say you can exhibit all existing Rembrandts if you want. If you put them all up you would get something like this:

rembrandt

This is not curation. It is a search result: a collection, like a search on Google (where this picture comes from). The first step in curating is that a curator makes a selection, and all curators do. But there is a reason for this selection; a rational. Most content curators just present their selection of links without explaining why. As the Rembrandt curator, I need to come up with a selection criterium and tell a story based on that.

Curation: the selection

Rembrandt is famous for his use of light in his paintings so I could use that as a criterium for the selection and as a theme for the exhibition, the story, the context. When I search on Google on the combination Rembrandt and ‘use of light’ I will get an example of a possible selection.

rembrandt-2

And now it becomes interesting here is the chance for knowledge sharing.

Curation: The story

As a curator, I now have the opportunity to add knowledge to this selection by telling the story on the usage of light in Rembrandts paintings. I can organize my exhibition on a timeline, showing (and explaining!) how the usage of light developed during his career. Or I can select 10 typical examples and dive deeper into them, comparing Rembrandt to other artist or maybe telling the story how he innovated painting. There are plenty of possible angles.

Curation: Context

These stories, these contexts are for me the essence of curation. I want curated content because the curator knows more of a certain topic than I do. I want to learn from him; not only see what sources he uses. In short, when you are selecting you are improving your Google search, When you add the story (your knowledge) it becomes knowledge sharing. And for me, that is the only goal of curation.

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