What is a curator?
Learn about the role of curators
The word ‘curator’ originates from the Latin cura, which means to care. Curators are employed to take care of collections. Some curators however don’t have collections to care for; instead, they work with artists and ideas to make exhibitions.
Curated exhibitions are held in galleries and museums, but they can also be displayed in a range of locations such as local council buildings, hospitals, universities, public spaces, retail and hospitality venues and even in disused shop fronts or residential houses.
Cura is also related to the word ‘curiosity’ and curators also have a responsibility to their curious audiences. Curators spend time researching works of art and reinterpreting these works for their audiences.
Today, curators, along with artists, are storytellers in their own right. Curators make decisions about which works of art should be displayed and how they should be seen. They also decide on the themes and ideas to be experienced by the audience.
Discover and explore
When visiting a gallery, consider how an exhibition or display of works has been curated. Make a list of the different ways in which works of art have been displayed at the gallery. What might be some of the reasons for works of art to be displayed differently? How does the display change the way you view or interpret the work? Back in the classroom, create an exhibition that considers the display techniques you have learnt during your visit to the gallery. How could you create your own frames or plinths? How might you group certain works?
Create an online platform for presenting student works of art. Consider online safety and discuss with students the benefits and limitations of presenting works of art online. Students could curate their own page or theme (an online exhibition), developed from works of art created throughout the year.
Select five works of art to present as a hypothetical exhibition. You might like to curate an exhibition based on a colour, a texture, your favourite things, pattern, women, light and shadow or humour. Photograph your selections. The possibilities are endless! Can you guess which theme unites the works of art below? Hint: there is more than one potential answer!
Watch and Listen to our Curators
2020 Adelaide Biennial - Leigh Robb Curator of Contemporary Art
Tracey Lock, Curator of Australian Paintings & Sculpture
James Bennett, Curator of Asian Art
Nici Cumpston, Curator of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art
Tansy Curtin, Curator of International Art – pre-1980
Rhana Devenport, Director
Russell Kelty, Associate Curator, Asian Art
Julie Robinson, Senior Curator, Prints, Drawings & Photographs
Dr. Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Curators
Museum From Home
Maria Zagala, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs
Elle Freak, Assistant Curator, Australian Paintings & Sculpture
Rebecca Evans, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design