Great news for the Tweeps community! Today, on September 18 all Tweeps (or Twitter users) were in direct communication with their favorite curator or curatorial museum department from anywhere in the world by simply using the #AskACurator hashtag on Twitter!
For the non-arty readers who always wondered what exactly is a curator, what his job exactly consists of, or for some who are perhaps encountering the term for the first time…here’s a little bit of insight! A curator in a museum or a gallery is a specialist in charge of the collection of the institution. He is usually the one who oversees its display, suggests the concept of a new show, decides which pieces will be included in it, engages in the research needed for the exhibit and the required publications ETC (this is very brief clarification!)
What is great about this Ask A Curator day is that 622 museums from 37 countries participated in an open dialogue with art lovers and genuinely curious individuals. Participants were able to ask anything they wanted to the curators from what is their favorite piece of the museum’s collection to how did they become curators in the first place. This engaging twitter concept was originally formulated by Jim Richardson from Sumo Design back in 2010 and has been extremely popular. The list of participating museums includes the most prestigious institutions around the world including the MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Getty Museum, the MOCA Los Angeles, the Tate and British Museum, United Kingdom, the Prado Museum, Spain, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, to name a few. Other enlisted museums were located in countries as diverse as Cambodia, Qatar, Belgium or Columbia.
The success of Ask A Curator day can definitely be measured by accounting for the number of participants (both curator and non-curator), the overall number of Tweets, the number of Tweets that actually got a response, the institution that received the most inquiries, amongst many other quantitative criteria. Yet, the effectiveness of the curators’ answers is a factor that cannot always be evaluated. Hyperallergic has precisely raised the following question of what “we wished curators answered during #AskACurator” (some of the the Tweets highlighted are actually quite funny!)
Although museums and curators are making efforts to be more transparent and accessible, many questions remain unanswered such as “how is your museum working to diversify its curatorial staff?”
These days, integrating social media in the overall mission and day-to-day activities of a museum is part of the branding strategy discussed in Robert R. Janes’ 2010 article “The Mindful Museum”(Print). Direct contact with the public such as in this case provides a mean for both professional and cultural differentiation. By providing answers to questions such as how do you come up with the concept, who decides what goes on display etc., museums are defining why and how their institution differs from another.
One can’t deny the great initiatives museum institutions are undertaking by rapidly embracing social media. Almost all (if not all) museums currently have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account or a Blog. It is a trend to connect with the public but most of all it becomes a necessity for museums in order to survive in the extremely competitive cultural arena.
For a complete list of participating museums click here.
More info at: www.askacurator.com