What is to Curate?


Back in the fall, this article ‘Everybody’s a Curator‘ by Christopher Borrelli from the Chicago Tribune arrived in my inbox. In this article Borrelli examines the changing meaning and use of the word “curate”. What was once a term not well understood and used primarily by those working in galleries, museums and academia, has now been adopted by popular culture. Borrelli starts off the article asking if you organize your music playlist, create a Pinterest page – does this make you a curator?

Oxford Dictionaries defines to curate as to “select, organize, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge”.

As a librarian, we select, organize and present content and information, using professional knowledge. But I wouldn’t call myself a curator within that aspect of my professional life. However, when working with art, I do feel I can consider myself a curator.

Over the past few months the concept of curating and the role of a curator has been sitting in the back of my mind. This past week at work, the Fine Arts Librarian and I were going through our Permanent Art Collection. I had noticed that there were some lovely etchings done in France during WWI. With the 100 year anniversary of WWI in 2014, I am thinking this is a good opportunity to try my hand a curating an exhibition and to link our library collection to this big anniversary celebration. Will I be able to contextualize the pieces? Will I be a curator? Time will tell

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