CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

CODART Research: Role of Curator Has Fundamentally Changed

During a festive public symposium at the Rijksmuseum on Friday, 6 October, CODART presented the results of a research project into the present state of the curator’s profession.

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary CODART commissioned an external research bureau to investigate what the role – and value – is of the curator of Dutch and Flemish art in today’s museum. The bureau was also tasked with examining what the future holds for the profession.

The research shows that the role of the museum curator has fundamentally changed in recent decades. Although the basics of the discipline have not changed essentially, the way curators have to carry out their work has. Today’s curator must command a wider range of professional skills than in the past. The task of the curator is shifting steadily from keeper of the collection and researcher in the direction of networker and narrator. This expanding job description is inevitably leading to a shift of focus, which can come at the cost of the core responsibilities, specifically the development of knowledge through research into and the curation of art collections.

Marjan Scharloo, Chair of the Board of CODART, presents the research report to Filip D’havé, General Representative of Flanders in the Netherlands, at CODART’s 25th anniversary symposium.
Photo: Bob Bronshoff

To put the changed – and changing – role of the museum curator on the agenda, an international symposium was organized entitled The Curator of the Future. Besides the presentation of the most important findings of the research project, curators and other museum professionals took part in panel discussions on a number of relevant topics. Afterwards, the research report and a special CODART anniversary magazine were presented to Filip D’havé, General Representative of Flanders in the Netherlands. More than 170 international museum professionals, students and art enthusiasts attended the symposium, which opened with a lecture by author Will Gompertz and concluded with closing remarks by researcher and journalist Warda El-Kaddouri.

Key findings, as well as the full report, are available on this page. A recording of the symposium will be available in the near future.