Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Questions: A Survey by Lisa Ladner

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, December 11. 2009 • Category: Questions & Conversations

Swiss researcher and consultant Lisa Ladner approached me to assist in the distribution of this fascinating survey for curators. She has been working as a cultural producer and independent curator in Puerto Rico, and with her international experience she found interesting discrepancies in how institutions around the globe work to support curators. She would like you, as a curator, to answer the questionnaire below and return the answers to her as soon as possible to info -at-, so that she can learn from your experience and share the results not only with her Puerto Rican colleagues but with us, too.

The questionnaire is below, please copy and paste it into a new email and send it directly to Lisa: info -at-
Thanks for your help.

QUESTIONNAIRE / Please don't write what you think is good practice, but honestly describe the current practice!

Please mark one:
[ ] I want my answers to be anonymized
[ ] You may quote me using my name
[ ] Please treat my answers this way: ...

Name: ...
Website (or short bio): ...

Institution: ...
The institution's website (if it doesn't have a website, please describe the institution): ...

Position/relation with the institution: ...


1. Number of in-house curators (paid staff / employment percentage): ...

2. Institution works with guest curators:
[ ] yes
[ ] no
[ ] only

3. Guest curators get paid:
[ ] yes, of course, they get an average of USD ..... per exhibition
[ ] no, it's already an honour they can work for the institution

4. How does the institution cover the guest curator's expenses related to an exhibition such as transportation, accommodations, meals?

5. Please describe the collaboration between the in-house curators and the guest curator. Does the in-house curator interfere with the project or just help in its realization?

6. How much help does the institution grant the guest curator (museum staff, technical assistants,...)? Can the guest curator use the same resources as the in-house curator?

7. Let's say a freelance/independent curator presents an idea with a cost estimate and the institution likes it very much. Does the institution now communicate the available budget for the exhibition and the curator adapts the project or must the curator first present an exact budget and then wait for the institution to see, if they can raise the money? Will the curator get paid for budgeting? Does the institution help the guest curator in the budgeting?

8. How many months prior to an exhibition does the institution communicate if it can be done or not (due to economic reasons)?

9. Does the guest curator get a contract and if so: at what moment in the project? Could you send me a sample or actual contract?

10. Does the guest curator only get paid if the exhibition takes place? What if the show is being cancelled because the institution couldn't raise the money?

11. Can the guest curator be asked to help raise money?

12. Does the institution cover all transportation and insurance costs for the artworks (round trip) including wrapping/crating? Or does it ask the artist to cover some of the costs?

13. Who looks for transportation/insurance/customs quotes: the institution or the artist?

14. Are artists being paid for having their work in an institutional show or are they asked to pay for it (for example with the argument that the work's value goes up by being exhibited)?

15. If an artist has to be present for the mounting or opening: does the institution pay for transportation/accommodations/meals? Does it also pay a compensation for the invested time?

16. Regarding the above questions: does it matter if the work comes from the artist, an art dealer/gallery or a collection/collector or from another institution or are they all being treated equally?

17. Do artists receive money to complete a work or is this only the case, if the work was commissioned?

18. Are artists being asked to come up for or provide exhibition equipment such as DVD players, headphones, loudspeakers, cables, beamers, monitors, computers or whatever is needed to exhibit their piece?

19. Does the institution set up a contract with the artist or makes him fill out just a standard form? At what moment? Please send samples or actual documents.

20. Do you ask the artists to provide professional high resolution photos of their work to be used for free in the catalogue?

21. Does your institution have a curatorial guideline/handbook such as Please provide.

22. Are proposals by in-house and freelance/independent curators being treated equally (for example: propose to director, then pass the exhibition committee, then being assigned an in-house curator/committee member to accompany the project)?

23. How many exhibitions does the institution do yearly (average)?

24. If you're a curator: how many exhibitions do you do yearly (average) / how many have you done in your career (approx.)?


Comments: ...

Please mark:
[x] yes, I'd like to get the results from this inquiry
[ ] no, I'm not interested in the results

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