Thursday 26th September 2013, 2.30pm-4.00pm
Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington
Dr Tim A. M. Ewin, Curator Invertebrates and Plants Division, Earths Sciences, NHM.
What’s it about?
Curatorship in the UK has been repeatedly devalued from a number of directions in recent times. This has largely stemmed from the erroneous assumption that curators are ineffective at delivering on core performance and accreditation targets or instrumental benefits such as digitisation, collections management, raising visitor numbers, community engagement or improving web and visitor experiences.
This has resulted in the perception, by some in the museum community, that curators are no longer needed. This perception has manifested itself in the reduction of curators being employed, as well as their skills being written out of “best practice” models and museum advocacy documents by organisations like the Museums Association. However, this perspective ignores the vital role curatorial knowledge plays in underpinning the effective delivery of all this work, as well as public perceptions about what services they want their museums to provide, especially, that they want their museums to be experts on their heritage and objects pertaining to that heritage (be that scientific, historical or cultural).
This situation has precipitated the need to start a robust justification of curators within the museum community and vocalising why museums and society need them. The Campaign for Good Curators was set up in recognition of these issues and consists of a group of interested individuals, mostly from across the UK heritage profession.
This talk will explore the negative perceptions of curators, the need to define what curators are, highlight their benefits to both museums and society and outline what the campaign is trying to achieve. It concludes that curatorial expertise is an important part of any museum team regardless of size and that more needs to be done to involve them in all aspects of museum work. If you would like to know more or join the group then please visit the Collections Link site.
There is also a petition at: https://www.change.org/petitions/great-museums-need-good-curators
Who should come?
The seminar is open to all interested members of the museum, but particularly
- Science Group: All senior departmental managers & collection management staff.
- Public Engagement Group: Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.
We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest. There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.
Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk.
Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome. Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine.
For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html