Independent Curators

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Independent Curators

By Andrea Pollan

What does a Curator Do?
Curators generally specialize in one or more areas of expertise, such as contemporary art or 19th century landscape painting. A curator may work for an institution or operate independently. The work of a curator spans four broad areas: acquisitions, exhibitions, collections management, and education.

Curators assist museums, private individuals, or corporations with the acquisitions of fine art or artifacts. These may include painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, craft, historic artifacts, or popular ephemera.

Exhibitions are often the most creative endeavor for curators. After a research period that includes visiting artist studios, private, museum, or corporate collections, the curator’s goal is to create a thought-provoking exhibition that gives new or deeper insight into an individual artist’s work or collection of diverse artists’ works. Often the curator will write interpretive material such as catalogs or exhibition brochures. The exhibitions may take place in museums, university galleries, non-profit visual arts organizations, commercial art galleries, professional associations, or corporations.

A curator should also have good fundraising and grant-writing skills to assist in raising monies for exhibitions for non-profit spaces.

Collections Management is detail-oriented work that includes written and photo-documentation of a collection, condition reports, loan forms, insurance appraisals and record keeping. Other important areas of collections management include arranging for restoration of damaged or dirty works, framing, installation, lighting consultation, crating and shipping.

Finally, a good curator can make a collection or exhibition come to life by educating the public with well-written educational materials and lively informative gallery talks that welcome all kinds of questions from an audience.

Andrea Pollan
Curator, Writer, Consultant
6003 Cobalt Road
Bethesda, MD 20816

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