CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Ask a curator was a great success, and keeps raising questions

The 1st of September was Ask a curator day and there is good news. We can conclude that the interest in museums and the work of curators is massive! Ask a curator was in the top 10 of trending topics on Twitter all day and even reached the number one spot. In fact, it was such a success it was hard to keep up with the questions and answers that kept coming up.

The questions covered a wide range of topics. Of course there were questions on specific works of art or parts of collections, but there were also a surprisingly high number of questions asking curators about what their work entails and the processes in exhibition making and the management of collections. Maybe the Museu Picasso is right when they conclude from this: “Maybe museums don’t explain well or effectively enough the work we do”.

The maximum of 140 characters in a tweet proved a complicating factor, or as the National Gallery of Ireland answered on the question “What is the most difficult challenge for a curator?”: “A curatorial challenge specific to today is condensing complex answers into tweets”. CODART-member Adriaan Waiboer, the curator of the museum proved to be enthusiastic in spite of these complications. Others, such as CODART-member Kees Zandvliet from the Amsterdam Historic Museum did need the space and provided their audience with the more complex answers they felt needed: .

Jim Richardson, the man behind Ask a curator summed up the idea behind the day as follows: "In too many institutions social media is seen only as a marketing tool, and people like curators don’t seem to be given the chance or want to use this kind of digital tool to engage with the public. With Ask a Curator we are, on mass, taking Twitter out of the marketing department and putting it in the hands of curators, and at the same time giving the public the chance to hear about interesting subjects from these passionate individuals."
Judging from the joyous atmosphere on Twitter on 1 September we might conclude that it was a good idea.

One of the questions to the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp was: “Is Ask a curator a one day only event ?? Or is it the start of a ‘service’ from all the museums etc.?” The answer of the Antwerp Museum was reassuring: “We would like Ask a curator to be the start of an ongoing conversation! Even after Sep 1st you can keep your questions coming.”

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