Voxpop

Issue 118/05, p15, 01.05.2018
What is the future of co-curation in museums?
Rachael Minott, research assistant, Birmingham Museums Trust

“The future of co-curation starts with an acknowledgement that singular gatekeepers of knowledge lead to singular narratives. Collaboration, consultation and co-curation are vital for museum survival. That necessity must be reflected in budgets that will allocate fair pay for these contributions, moving away from hierarchies that say museum workers are essential and ‘community’ contributors are enrichment. Staff will need to be equipped with the tools to host creative conversations, and to share their specialist knowledge, creating incentivised and equipped gatekeepers.”

01052018-david-jubbDavid Jubb, Artistic director and chief executive, Battersea Arts Centre

“If curating is about caring for things, and making meaning from them, then co-curating is about working in partnership to achieve the same goal. A more exciting future for co-curation might be to look beyond the idea of exhibiting things.

What if we co-curated a renewed sense of purpose for a museum? How can a museum take the essence of what it does, and the values that it represents, to support the interests and desires of its community? This will mean sharing more power and resources than the choice of what goes in an exhibition.”

01052018-jen-kavanaghJen Kavanagh, freelance curator and oral historian

“Our world is changing faster than museums can keep up. Co-curation will be essential in ensuring we capture important stories and objects. Immersed, engaged and well-connected community curators will help document untold histories as they develop. Museums can empower non-heritage professionals to be upskilled in collecting practice and find the voices that need to be heard. Creative approaches to working with diverse people in a collaborative way will lead to exciting and surprising new collections, helping to refresh collecting practice.”

01052018-adam-corsiniAdam Corsini, Archaeology collections manager, Museum of London

“Co-curation has a strong foundation of years of exemplary community engagement work, but is now at a point where those experiences can be used to create some powerful stuff. Rather than trying to engage specific demographics, co-curation has the ability to bring a mixture of people together to create their own ‘museum community’. By involving people at all levels, hearing new voices, opening up to new interpretations and attitudes, and challenging traditional curation, the outputs can engage audiences with a new way of thinking.”

Comments

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Jonathan Gammond
Access , Wrexham County Borough Museum
09.05.2018, 22:31
The idea of being involved in the exhibiting of things is what often excites co-curators more than anything else museums (or other lesser institutions) offer. It is something that cannot be easily offered elsewhere unless you have your own private collection. Here in Wrexham, we have been fortunate to be the host and occasional handmaiden of A History of North East Wales in 100 Objects. all suggested and many lent by individuals and groups from across the three counties, as well as by established museums and archives. The research and design of the exhibition was managed by a volunteer forum (North East Wales Heritage Forum) who had many lively debates on what to include or rather exclude and worked with us to stage the exhibition and publish a catalogue. Roll on their next scheme when they have recovered their energies and prised open the coffers of another funding organization.