“I’m a collector, I collect anything I find. I never throw anything away that’s mine” – Steven Wilson
It’s an amusing tendency and almost charming sometimes how some people are most particular about there belongings. Such people that show tendencies from a tender age, start to collect, preserve and maintain their possessions and findings, and somewhere down the line, a probable Curator is born.
From Barbie dolls and Pokemon tazos to books and music CDs to furniture and antiques; lies an extraordinary thrill of possession and maintenance. Those for whom this thrill and fascination becomes a way of life often find a perfect place for themselves in the profession of Curation.
A Curator is traditionally a preserver or keeper of cultural heritage institutions, working mainly at museums, galleries, libraries, etc. As a result of their heightened sense of care for things, curators are content specialists involved with the collection and interpretation of heritage materials.
Since the earliest dawn of civilization, man has paid homage to heritage by preserving the past. Having mentioned this it becomes only customary to speak of the diligence and seriousness with which such artifacts should be dealt with. Hence, curators are agents that understand and value of the legacies of respectable artifacts from the past.
Does a Curator deal in antiques and old artifacts?
If you are under the interpretation that a curator is the dealer of some sorts then you’re mistaken. The job responsibilities of a curator involve research about objects of historical and cultural importance by collecting information about them. Curators are often the first people to perceive findings that could be important for the existence of mankind.
Two primary divisions of institutions who require Curator service
In small organizations Curators usually have the sole responsibility for acquisition and collections care. This means that they are in charge of the intake that an organization makes, and thereafter their care and preservation.
Curators are the decision-makers regarding an object’s selection, its potential, and documentation. They conduct research based on the collection and history of objects and share this research with the masses through exhibitions and publications.
At larger institutions, the work of a curator is that of the subject specialist, who is expected to conduct original research on objects and guide the organization in its collection. Such institutions accommodate several curators, each researching on various collection area, like:
- Curator of ancient art
- Curator of prints and drawings, etc.
Such organizations are also often headed by a Head Curator who oversees operations. Also, in such organization, the physical care and collection of such objects may feature as a duty of Museum collection managers or Museum conservators. Therefore, work responsibilities of a Curator may vary from an overall conservation of objects to specified research responsibilities.
Eligibility criteria to become a Curator
+2: Have to graduate in Arts stream
Bachelor’s Degree: Bachelors in an Arts related discipline
Master’s Degree: Masters in an Arts related discipline
Doctorate: Ph.D in an Arts related discipline
For students who are considering curation, before you can brag about leading the exciting Indiana Jones lifestyle let us talk about the academic requirements of the field. A Curator is expected to hold a high degree in their subject, typically a Doctorate in Philosophy or a Master’s degree in subjects such as:
- History of art
- Anthropology, or
The study for these courses may be pursued from a myriad of an institution around the world. As curation comes under the humanities branch of study, it is deemed best for an enthusiastic student to apply at a renowned college or university, anywhere in the world. However, like everything else it all boils down to how well you know your subjects and so the aforementioned degrees from most respectable institutions will suffice.
Colleges offering courses of Curation in India
- University of Delhi
- Jadavpur University
- University of Lucknow
Colleges offering courses of Curation outside India
- University of Cambridge
- Oxford University
- Harvard University
- Queens University
A Day in the life of a Curator
Hello there! I’m a Curator and I research about prints and drawings. My work is my passion and I leave no stone unturned when I’m at it. This includes tracing down civilization to its very roots sometimes. The reward that I derive in return is multitudes ahead of the effort that I put in. It gives me a chance to go through the works of infinite cultural and heritage value.
Here is how a typical day in my life goes by:
8:00 AM: I’m an ardent sleeper and I get up at this time every day to do Yoga and a tad bit of running.
9:00 AM: Time for breakfast and news. Ah, that crisp feel of the newspaper.
10:00 AM: I’m on my way to work now. I work at a government research institute that specializes in Art History. My current topic of research is upon the drawings that have been excavated from the Harappan Civilisation. (Yes, those people they were talking about in the History class.) However, there are some works of a Russian poet who apparently traveled to India in the 17th A.D. which I’m also working on.
11:00 AM: This is the time of the day when works seep in and I’m stuck in the pool of references and links that could join the dots of my research and give me a better perspective of things.
Being a curator is personally very honorable to me due to multiple reasons. One of the reasons being that the research facility that I’m working at holds some excerpts from Ved Vyas and Huen Tsang, to which I have direct access.
2:00 PM: Enough! The canteen at our institute has some great food to offer. Time to eat.
3:00 PM: The department is receiving some entries for an upcoming exhibition. My role in the operation is to do a fact check and declare the quantified value that the excerpts hold. This is a phenomenal feeling each time and is very difficult to explain why. I get to see and experience things that were created hundreds and thousands of years ago. As an Arts student, it is very difficult to explain emotions upon the sigh of these so-called objects.
5:00 PM: I find time for some tea and poetry.
5:30 PM: Our board of directors is gonna be at the institute shortly for a meeting to discuss the theme of the upcoming exhibition. I’m helping a fellow colleague with the literature that will be distributed and displayed.
7:00 PM: The meeting is over and we conclusively came up with a basic structure of the literature. In addition, the meeting’s discussion will help me better in eliminating objects that are not of sufficient value. We could say them in our archives for a better occasion.
7:30 PM: I’ve wrapped up my things, with plenty of reading material in print and online. For now, I am homeward bound.
8:30 PM: I’m going to hit the bed for a power nap and wake up by dinner time and continue researching through the night.
11:00 PM: This is not good. I’m late for an hour and there’s plenty left to be done. The best thing to do at such junctures is to not panic and settle with a quick dinner.
11:30 PM: My study table is set, the room temperature is good and I have some good coffee to steer me through the night. And we begin…
This is how a typical day in my life looks like. Do you want to become like me? We hope this article has added something valuable to your research about this profession. Have your say in the comment box below. Enjoy reading!