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Curating after tidying

Curating after tidying

Desks, closets, kitchen cupboards. They all seem to fill up naturally with stuff we sort off want, but also don't want to get rid of. In an attempt to declutter tidy a space, Marie Kondo asks this question: Does it spark joy? If not, she advises getting rid of it.

But while Kondo gives good advice, we should go further. Past the tidying awaits another process: curating.


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Curating - ask the right questions

Curate means 'to care for'. In a museum curatorial process, a collection is always built in light of a stated mission.

Factors one consider:

  • Instead of just asking if this item is great, curators ask if it is great for my institution and department?
  • Is the prospective object redundant with other objects, or does it fill a notable hole in the collection?
  • What is the full story of the object?
  • Is it what it claims to be and in good condition?


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Storage and rotation

Curatorial habits of mind can prevent impulse-buying. But even if consistently applied, one will still have items stored in closets. 

A museum seldom have more than 10 per cent of its holdings on view. Curators work with registrars to ensure that collections remain active through gallery rotations and touring exhibitions.

Storage does not have to mean dead space but can be seen as a dynamic part of life where items are stored in such a way that they are always present in your mind.


271 reads

Show, don't tell

A museum is only of value if there are exhibitions. Therefore, making exhibitions is a big part of the job.

Good curating involves communicating unique thoughts with maximum effectiveness.

  • Juxtaposing two or more perfectly chosen pieces create a broader understanding.
  • Another crucial element is negative space. Sometimes a sculpture looks best by itself in the middle of a room. Other times, it will do better in the corner.

This technique can also be used in other areas of communication such as writing and email, or telling a story.


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