A Day in the Life of…?

A Day in the Life of a Curator…

What exactly do they do?

curator (from Latin: curare, meaning “to take care”) is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, library, or archive) is a content specialist charged with an institution’s collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.

The Curator. The creative genius behind the exhibitions which await you at Patti and Rusty Rueff Galleries on Purdue’s campus.

These simple images can take you on an artistic journey, from start to finish. A day in the life of a curator here at Purdue.

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First, we see the student curator, Delaney, in action as she prepares the walls for hanging. The nail holes from the previous show must be filled with putty, then all uneven or damaged surfaced repainted in preparation for the new exhibition. Note the photos laying on the floor on protective covering… the curator always plans the layout for each image and how it will be presented in the show.

Second, we see a display of two photos, which will be part of the current exhibition. The curator must measure the height and width of each photo, as well as plan the measurements of the whole wall to ensure all of the photos fit in perfectly and evenly onto the wall. Yes, there is even a little math involved in the day to day life of a curator!

Third, we see two guests kneeling down to take a closer look at a few free standing objects on pedestals. Often curators choose to put objects which are nicely viewed from a 360 degree angle, on pedestals, which allows the viewer to see the object in its entirety. Take note of the lighting and how each pedestal has its own spotlight, adding to effect and perception of the objects.

Finally, we see a group of participating artists gathered around the exhibition coordinator at the final reception. The curator even helps plan events associate with the exhibition such as artist talks, or in this case, a celebratory reception and awards ceremony.

An exhibition requires countless hours of planning, as well as a great amount of resources needed for each show, depending on the size and nature of the objects on display. A curators hard work doesn’t stop when all of the hard work of planning is complete… Gallery installation is a full day event, asking much from all involved. The artist and the curator alike must contribute meaningful work in order to pull of a successful exhibition. An unforeseen set back could arise, the materials could fail, in a project as large as exhibition development, there is much room for chaos to arise, but thats why there are curators.

A Curator: the see-er of the unforeseen.

Curator: the wearer of many hats.

Curator, there until the very end.


Inspired to see the final product? Check out their gallery schedule. 


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