Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Opportunity: Call for proposals at the Torrance Art Museum

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, July 21. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Call for Proposals:
On Gonzo Curating

I (Max Presneill, Curator of the Torrance Art Museum) was interested to read recently, on and at, some of their reader’s responses to the questions regarding topics that should be raised and what the purpose of a museum is, respectively. While I feel that there is space and time enough in the world to cover many areas and to be many things the bottom line must remain actual exhibitions/curatorial projects.. The last thing we need is to become so academic that we end up talking to ourselves about ourselves only - as can be seen in some arenas. This is not to downplay the importance of a dialogue and the conceptualizing of our field but more as a warning not to become too hermetic in our relationship to the world at large. A move towards self-reflexivity in our programming and a determined drive to ask harder questions about our own practices as an institutional art site are welcome, as is an extended scope of possibilities within curatorial approaches – which many curators and institutions are addressing admirably in various countries and that we also can contribute to.

To engage others, to become more collaborative and interactive with outside curators and professionals worldwide, to see our programming develop more hand-in-hand with a global enquiry and with curators in different contexts with different aims and agendas, alongside fulfilling our obligation to visually and intellectually engage a myriad of different types of visitor, can perhaps be sought via different routes, for example a form of crowd-sourcing? This is one potential approach we at TAM would like to follow up on…

To this end I would like to invite artists and curators (or anyone else for that matter) to present project proposals to the Torrance Art Museum. My feeling is that as a small museum of contemporary art our strength lies in our ability to react to moments in art, quickly (for a museum) and efficiently, within a limited budget. We cannot compete with large museum blockbuster shows but we can respond to the ideas referencing the role of art, curators, museums, etc within the world. What better way to do this than by actually offering a site for the production of some of these projects that deal with our concerns directly. TAM should be an artist’s museum, a curator’s museum and our audience’s museum for active engagement – so if this strikes a chord with you then feel free to send proposals to us. We will respond to them all and will shortlist those that we respond the strongest to (whatever that subjectively means) and try to schedule a number of these for the 2011/2012 programming.

We make no claims for this being an original idea, nor innovative, nor groundbreaking and we have no real idea how this experiment will succeed or fail but we feel it is worth finding out - so…proposals on a disc please to:

Torrance Art Museum
c/o Max Presneill, Curator
3320 Civic Center
Torrance, CA 90509, USA

About the Museum
The Torrance Art Museum is a small contemporary art museum located in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. It has a vibrant and fast paced programming schedule that covers the latest developments in current art regionally, nationally and internationally, as well as innovative curatorial projects featuring both emerging and established artists.

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Pick 'N Mix - March 2008

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, March 1. 2008 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
First of the month again... even with an extra day, February seemed short! Here's the March '08 edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of little news items in the realm of curating.

  • A fascinating article on the state of museums and galleries in China on ARTnews notes that a concern in the face of explosive growth "...has been the absence of training programs for museum professionals in China, a country where the term "curator" did not exist ten years ago. Even now, there is only one program in curatorial studies, run by the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, which is graduating its first class this year. "In China, we didn't have degrees such as arts management or curatorial studies, so most of the museum directors were originally artists," says Fan Di'an, who like many directors in China got his position through political appointment." The artist/curator model is well-established, particularly in North America, and so the reaction to a similar model emerging (albeit under quite different circumstances) is one to keep an eye on.

  • If new media, Internet art and networked art are your thing, there's lots of good reading at this page at the BAM website, with several downloadable documents detailing conversations and interviews with curators, artists and directors by Karen Annemie Verschooren. The interview with Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney, is particularly fascinating and candid in its description of the early days of exhibiting new media artwork in a prominent museum.

  • Thomas Krens is leaving the Guggenheim, and this act has sparked a lot of reflection on his years at the helm. Charlie Finch on characterizes the influence of Krens on curatorial practice as "...turning everything into an art that was at once contemporary and exchangeable in ever increasing increments of value." It's a very critical standpoint that also claims that "...the land of Krens evoked the carnival and the circus. Whether showing Spanish painting gems, Aztec war toys, garments or bikes, Krens' vision included the kitchen sink, the golden bidet and everything in between." From that statement out of the USA, let's jump (gently) across the pond for a moment. The new Director of the National Gallery, Nicholas Penny, made a statement saying that as far as he was concerned, the era of the big, sexy blockbuster is over, and Guardian writer Jonathan Jones discusses how the blockbuster itself is not to blame, but that one should blame "sloppy curating - curating that is addicted to short cuts, allergic to the years of research and negotiations it takes to put on a really good exhibition." Food for thought.

  • Finally, the New York Times reports that "nine months after taking over, Jeffrey Weiss has resigned as director of the Dia Art Foundation, saying he had realized he was not cut out for the job." Mr Weiss says: "It took me too far away from curatorial and scholarly work [...] I had an idea that being director of Dia would be different because it is such a small place. [...] My hope is to return to curatorial and scholarly work, but right now I'm taking a breath." It'll be interesting to see both who Dia hires next and what Mr Weiss does next, and serves as a point of reflection on where a curatorial career can be said to "terminate" -- does a curator need to stay in jobs expressly about curating, and leave museum/gallery direction to those with deeper interests in business/administration?
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Pick 'N Mix - February 2008

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, February 4. 2008 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to February's Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of interesting tidbits that have captured my attention recently.
  • I found this post about the "Video Vortex: Curating Online Video" symposium in Amsterdam really interesting, especially towards the end where there is this quotation: "...there was a short panel discussion about the role of the curator. [...] Hierarchies are changing and curators have to respond to those things. From the audience comes the remark that curators were the middle person between the artist and his audience. This position is threatened due to 2.0. Maybe it's a solution to look at the curator's role to help to rate and analyze the work. This would make a shift instead of being an audience seeker he would become an intellectual."

  • "Who gets to tell the story?" is a great question that Rebecca Durkin asks on the Burke Museum blog. Ms Durkin expresses concern about photographs of Native Americans taken by a white person who "felt he was documenting a "vanishing" race" being displayed simultaneously alongside an exhibition of Native American artifacts and taped interviews. Ms Durkin says: "I'm excited to see the shows open this weekend and compare the stories the two shows are telling. Will This Place Called Home serve as a test of sorts for the authenticity of the images in Peoples of the Plateau? And how will the historic photos in Peoples of the Plateau inform the context with which we look at the cultural materials in This Place Called Home?" In this case, it seems that the Burke Museum is valiantly attempting to let more than one story be told at the same time, giving the viewing public some space to reach their own conclusions.

  • There are some very critical and challenging statements being made in a text "Terminal Souvenirs: What is wrong with curatorial practise today" by Maia Damianovic, a critic and independent curator based in New York. The whole text is excellent reading, but I thought I'd excerpt some quotations that were very resonant for me.
    Too often, we can discern in current practice the insidious an implacable macula of conservative constraint trying to disguise itself behind critical, ideological and political posturing. Our theories and our practices, for the most part, simply do not match, Over and over again, we are confronted by didactic, pedagogic and formulaic curatorial mechanisms that glamorize a gamut of dull, dry or safe conceptual choices. Are the mechanisms surrounding curating so elaborately enshrined that we are confronted with a symptom of overwhelming conservatism, of being stuck in the pursuit of easy prescriptions, but also perks and rewards? In any case, curating today opens to a whole field of different investments, that seamlessly slip into the arena of politics, power and finances at the mercy of all their jumbled forces. But, politics and ideology can also become packaged commodities.
    Why are we so complicit? A transformation of curating and exhibiting today could amount to an ethical and political change of destination. A change of destination that would eschew comfort, self-gratification and success, and open itself to insecurity and anxiety; moving from protected to vulnerable contexts. lt could also move from pragmatics to poetics.
    A little confusion and chaos would work wonders. Why not swim against the current a little more; against the large survey show, 'against curating as a formula of success by default. Perhaps the curating and exhibiting of art today should be anxious, insecure practices.

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Pick 'N Mix - November 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, November 1. 2007 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
It's the first of the month again! Hard to believe it's November already. Time for the November edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of bite-sized items that have captured my attention recently.
  • "CURATE OR DIE" is the title of a series of discussions at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.
    "The focus of classical museum work seems to have changed in the past fifteen years. The balance of exhibiting, collecting, researching, and conserving activities has shifted towards a marked concentration on exhibiting. Both the public eye and possible sponsors tend to privilege the spectacular potential inherent in exhibitions. In collaboration with the Berlin-based Bureau des Arts Plastiques, KW Institute for Contemporary Art is planning a series of panel debates addressing these and related questions. Curate or Die seems to be the only possible future perspective."
    The two remaining talks in the series are taking place November 29 and December 10 at K-W.

  • A recent article by the Washington Post asks the question: Is There a Future for Old-Fashioned Museums? It focuses primarily on the story of the "Newseum", a new museum being erected in downtown Washington, while a copy is simultaneously being "built" in the online platform of Second Life. It has not yet been decided if this virtual copy of the museum will go fully public, but if it does, it will allow a global audience to have some experience of the museum. The article explores the notions of emotional attachment and collective experience that we have when visiting physical museums, which pose a series of questions as to the similarities and differences to the way we share experiences online. As well, the article looks at the ways success is measured for museums and how this is changing.

    Maxwell L. Anderson, CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art says: "The root of the problem is that there is no longer an agreed-upon method of measuring achievement. Half a century ago, art museums were largely measured by a yardstick comparable to that applied to libraries of the time: the size and importance of their collections." But today, he argued, art museums increasingly "are to their detriment places that privilege entertainment over learning."

    This year, in the journal Curator, he argued, "The message has been conspicuously entrepreneurial: we can be compared with theme parks, so we matter."

    He calls for measures of success that focus on the visitor's experience of the "resonance and wonder" of artworks -- "an intangible sense of elation -- a feeling that a weight was lifted."

    Anderson's words remind us that while some of these buildings may be architectural or technological marvels, what really impacts audiences is personal and collective perceptions of the contents of museums - in other words, the fruits of labour by artists and curators.

  • An old webcast came to light via bellebyrd's blog: "Global Curating in the 21st Century" was a panel discussion held in 2003 at the Walker Art Center, as part of "How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age".

    "Five visual arts curators discuss art in a global context. Participants are: Kathy Halbreich, Director, Walker Art Center; Vishakha Desai, Senior Vice President/Director, Galleries and Cultural Programs, The Asia Society; Hou Hanru, Paris-based, independent curator-critic; Paulo Herkenhoff, independent curator and critic (Sao Paulo); and Latitudes exhibition curator Philippe Vergne."

    You can access the stream of the panel discussion by clicking here.

  • File under slightly unusual curatorial careers: being a curator of a hotel's art collection. Jennifer Phelps is the curator at the Chambers, a luxury hotel in downtown Minneapolis, USA.

    "My first job was to catalog everything and use the floor plans to place it in the rooms," Phelps said. "That was fun, like a puzzle, because there are 60 rooms, and each got two or three pieces, depending on whether it was a suite or a single. "

    One recent addition is a bronze sculpture by British artist Gavin Turk. It sits in a hallway near the hotel's banquet rooms and looks like a pile of black plastic garbage bags stuffed to overflowing with trash. It's Phelps' job to tamp down the ire of outraged hotel guests who stumble upon it en route to a soiree.

    "They call up, furious, because they're having a party and what are we doing with garbage bags dumped in the hallway?" she said. "When I tell them it's art, they burst out laughing."

A lighthearted note to end this month's Pick 'N Mix on, I'm sure you'll agree!
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Dynamic Art Museums in Small Cities

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, August 29. 2007 • Category: Announcements
The document below, being circulated by the Kamloops Art Gallery in Canada, poses some incisive questions that many cultural institutions, not just museums in small cities, are facing. Input from curators on some of these issues would greatly benefit this study. Full text follows:

Dynamic Art Museums in Small Cities
The Board of Trustees of the Kamloops Art Gallery, a not-for-profit art museum located in the interior of British Columbia in western Canada, met recently to consider its future and to address our considerable responsibilities to various communities.

The Board hopes to develop a new paradigm, an ideal model that emphasizes the compatibility of popular success, scholarship and museological responsibilities that can be used to benchmark our future outcomes and achievements. It also intends to look at the vital and critical role of the "small city gallery" within the global environment.

To these ends, our Trustees would like to know about art galleries in similar small communities with a population between 50,000 and 150,000. It is inviting museum professionals and scholars to define what constitutes a successful small city art museum. How, for example, are historical/traditional and contemporary art programming integrated? What are the inherent responsibilities that come with being recognized as a rigorous institution committed to research and scholarship? What is the potential of small art museums as learning hubs, especially given the opportunities available through the use of new technologies? And lastly, the Board is trying to determine how art museums make a difference in their own immediate and diverse communities and how success is defined in these terms.

The first part of this multi-faceted project is to compile a list of small-city art galleries world-wide that are recognized as leaders in their field. The next step is to refine this list and prepare case studies of 20 to 25 of these institutions for inclusion in a publication about the challenges and possibilities facing the small city gallery. We would appreciate receiving your opinion on the most outstanding galleries based on the objectives of the study outlined in this email. Please forward them to jlmb @

We would also appreciate if you would take the time to forward this inquiry to your email list of colleagues in order to expand the search for outstanding art galleries in small cities. Please include your full name, title and work affiliation for reference and follow-up.

Thank you for your time.
Jann LM Bailey
Executive Director, Kamloops Art Gallery
101-465 Victoria Street, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada V2C 2A9
t 250 3772412 / f 250 828 0662

[Via Christine Castle, on behalf of Jann Bailey. Please respond to her directly at jlmb @ Anything posted in the comments will also be forwarded to Jann.]
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Job: Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ulrich Museum

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, July 31. 2007 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The Ulrich Museum of Art seeks candidates for the position of Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

The Ulrich Museum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art reports to the museum director and works collaboratively with other staff in a team environment. The position balances responsibilities for collection development and art acquisition with exhibition programming, organization, and interpretation. An ability to cultivate patrons and collectors, engage faculty and program partners, serve artists, and connect with students are important traits for the successful candidate. The Ulrich Museum seeks a candidate committed to the learning of its audiences and eager to creatively interpret and contextualize contemporary art for non-specialist museum visitors.

Founded in 1974, the Ulrich is a nationally recognized university art museum emphasizing modern and contemporary art and based in the largest metropolitan area in Kansas. The WSU sculpture collection was noted among the Top Ten in Public Art Review in 2006. Recent sculpture garden commissions have added work by Andy Goldsworthy and Wichita-native Tom Otterness. The permanent collection boasts over 6,000 works across the modern era to today and includes work by Joan Miró, August Rodin, Robert Henri, Barbara Hepworth, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt, Kara Walker, and Kota Ezawa. Museum endowments generously support active collection acquisition. With 6,250 square feet of gallery space, the Ulrich presents a schedule of six to eight rotating exhibitions annually, regularly self-organized and/or drawn from the museum collection.

Required—Master’s degree or equivalent professional experience in art, art history, or related field (Ph.D. preferred). Experience with curatorial organization (three years of museum curatorial experience preferred).
A commitment to diversity is required. Desirable: Evidence of past innovative, interdisciplinary programming.
Demonstrated evidence of clear writing. Confidence in public speaking.

Application guidelines:
Candidates must apply online. Candidates must also submit a cover letter addressing the position qualifications, and resumes, names, addresses, e-mail addresses, ad telephone numbers of three professional references to: Curator Search, Ulrich Museum of Art, 1845 Fairmount St, Wichita KS 67260-0046. All application materials must be received at the Ulrich Museum by September 21, 2007. Wichita State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Job: Curator of Fine Art, National Maritime Museum

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, July 28. 2007 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The National Maritime Museum is seeking to appoint a Curator of Fine Art who is able to lead the research and interpretation of the Museum’s art collections and the strategy for the Queen’s House, the Museum’s main art venue.

Key responsibilities:
•Manage the Art Team, ensuring that they work creatively to deliver research and exhibitions that meet in full the Museum’s objectives
•Lead the development of the Museum’s Queen’s House strategy, championing it at the highest level
•Lead and develop the Centre for Art and Travel, liaising between curatorial staff, external academic partners and funding bodies to build a coherent and successful research programme
•Champion the strategic development of the art collections to explain their significance within historical and artistic contexts
•Liaise with key personnel in Collections Management, Exhibitions, Learning and Online to ensure that the Art Team’s outputs support broader Museum objectives
•Lead the team in raising the national profile of the collections and subject s through research, publications and seminars
•Lead and support the professional development of the Art Team and champion key arts partnerships for the Museum

Salary: £27,500 - £35,000
Closing Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

For full details and information on how to apply, please visit the National Maritime Museum website.
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Pick 'N Mix - June 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, June 1. 2007 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to the June edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of bite-sized items that have caught my eye recently.

  • Art fair season is upon us, though many collectors and curators seem to lament the lack of desirable objects to purchase, even at one of the biggest of them all, Art Basel: ""We don't buy much at the fair,'' said Todd Levin, who oversees the $100 million Sender Collection from New York, in a telephone interview. "Art fairs have morphed into a 'fairorama' and consumer paradise or hell that is not conducive to spending time to investigate a work.''"

  • Cynthia Beth Rubin adroitly notes on the iDC mailing list that there is in fact, plenty of quality work to collect, there is simply perhaps not enough that is 'on trend'. Rubin writes: "We know that we live in a curated time, a time in which the interest comes not from the artists but from those who envision and organize exhibits around conceptual movements that they either identify or invent (who knows?). If work falls outside of the parameters of the curatorial mission, then it is not shown. If work is too similar to already selected work, it is not shown. But if work goes too long without being shown, it fall out of view of the curators, and it is difficult to resurrect it." Rubin is reacting to this article in the New York Times, about the hot (or not, if you are an ambitious collector?) market at Art Basel.

  • The word "curator" is increasingly coming to mean someone whose taste you trust to sift through mountains of blog posts every day, and present you with the golden nuggets (which is a little bit like what I am doing with these "Pick 'N Mix" posts, I suppose). Björn Jeffery at Good Old Trend explains why he believes journalists need to move from being gatekeepers to being "curators" in the this sense: "Imagine an art curator running a gallery for instance. You don’t go to the gallery because you necessarily know the artist exhibiting, but you trust the curator enough to go anyway. You respect his/her taste and choices enough to check it out." Being trustworthy was always part of being a journalist, and now with this expanding definition of curator, journalists are also expected to have taste.

  • A rose by another name would smell as sweet, right? Perhaps, but that hasn't stopped the powers that be at the Museum of Television in New York City from renaming it so that it will no longer be known as a museum. “'Museum' was not a word that tests really well with the under-30 and 40-year-olds,” especially in the context of radio and television, Pat Mitchell, the museum's chief executive said. Henceforth, it will be known as the Paley Center for Media, after the late CBS founder William S. Paley.

  • And finally, has put some interviews with curators from their Fresh Moves project online.

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Pick 'N Mix - May 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, May 1. 2007 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Let's start May off right with another Pick 'N Mix!
  • At the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the patrons are invited to curate the show. “I’m hoping that this discussion will shed more light on the institution and give us a better sense of who our audience is,” Acting Curator Christopher Cook said. “I see this as a way of building relationships." The project ends when the walls are full.

  • The inimitable Momus asks: "Why not give us little video tours to entice us to visit, sneak previews of shows, interviews with artists, curators and docents?", among other relevant questions directed at art museums. I'm with you, brother (though he does note some museums are leading the way).

  • In case you were wondering, here are some short profiles on the curatorial team behind the Seattle Art Museum.

  • AddArt is a Firefox browser plug-in that allows you to block advertisements on a web page, and replace them with works of art, from a curated database. I'm looking forward to the the final launch of this one!

  • If you are in London on the 10th of May, you may be interested to drop in on the Thursday Club, which features Kelli Dipple, Marc Garrett, Ruth Catlow, Armin Medosch, and Janis Jefferies speaking about curating interdisciplinary arts. It runs from 6-8.30 PM in the seminar rooms at the Ben Pimlott Building, New Cross, SE14 6NW, and it's free. Here's hoping someone blogs the conversation!
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Reviews: Ideas podcast

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, February 6. 2007 • Category: Reviews & Resources
[In these upcoming reviews, I'll be highlighting books, podcasts, exhibitions, periodicals, and other items that I think are of particular interest to curators and those concerned with curatorial issues.]

Ideas is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's premier radio programme of contemporary thought. Their podcast highlights the best of the Ideas programmes. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for their podcast here. Their latest podcast release is a fascinating lecture by cultural critic Adam Gopnik entitled: To Sit or to Talk?.

Adam Gopnik discusses the future of museums by pondering a question that he recently asked his kids: Do you prefer theatres, where you can sit? Or museums, where you can talk? Gopnik was delivering the 2006 Eva Holtby Lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum.

His lecture discusses the evolution of musuems, from (as he puts it, in his very alliterative way) the mausoleum, to the machine, to the metaphor/mall. The lecture is an easy listen, and the evolution he speaks of is well delineated. My only contention with what he says is that it is all a little too neat, too pat. He is keen to isolate the museum into these stages of development, but it is clear that all three stages he speaks of still exist and share the same environment within which to survive. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on his lecture.
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Celebrity curators

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, November 20. 2006 • Category: Musings
Recently, I spotted a CNN story about the Louvre "inviting slam poets in to rap about paintings". In what was surely conceived as a PR-double whammy (bring in a celebrity, create a programme that appeals to youth/urban hipsters), Toni Morrison has been invited to be a guest curator this month.

The American Nobel laureate has helped the Louvre conceive a series of lectures, readings, films, concerts, debates and slam poetry that will continue through November 29. All center around her theme "The Foreigner's Home," touching on national identity, exile and the idea of belonging.

Inviting Morrison to the museum was part of Louvre Director Henri Loyrette's outreach to the United States. [...] Loyrette, who took over at the 213-year-old institution in 2001, also has been trying to shake up France's perceptions of the role of museums. "A museum for me is not just a place, it's a place for education, a place with a social role," he said.

I've heard the term "celebrity curator" tossed around quite a bit, and usually with derision. I found this move by the Louvre (rhyming intentional) to be fairly benign, however. It seems part of a larger attempt on the part of the Louvre to fill the social role that Loyrette refers to.

The larger notion of the "celebrity curator" is far more dangerous than the Louvre example I'm citing here. The rather serious role of cultural arbiter that the curator plays ensures that there is an inevitable aura of power and, subsequently, the potential for sexiness that is congruous with the idea of celebrity, but we have to be careful: that power should also not be misused. Hence, while the Louvre's move as it stands is respectable on several levels, even though Morrison is not a formally-trained curator (she has other cultural credentials), I would cringe at handing over a similar role to most actresses or pop musicians. They have cultural credentials of a sort, too, and could expand the audience of a museum, but the danger here is a dilution of a museum's mission to the point of incomprehensibility.

Morrisson's work at the Louvre has also been reported on at the New York Times (much more in-depth article than the CNN story).
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I'll see your Wi-Fi, and raise you a magazine

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, November 3. 2006 • Category: News
While the Pompidou tries to entice a younger generation by offering wireless internet, the hip and flashy (and, based on the rumblings of folk I know in Paris - sometimes hated) Palais de Tokyo has turned to old media to further its reach to audiences.

"France has changed, the world has changed, and we have to adapt,'' says Bruno Racine, the Pomipdou Center's 54-year-old president, in his red-walled office near the museum. "The Pompidou Center needs to renew itself, live up to the dual challenge of expanding its domestic audience and becoming a global institution.''

There is an excellent article here, that chronicles the recent troubles and triumphs of the Pompidou. The tale inevitably ends on the note of the fiscal viability of the Pompidou, with Racine saying:

"Subsidies are going to plateau,'' he says. "Clearly, we have to diversify our resources by building up visitor numbers, but also forming closer links with companies and collectors.''

Zipping on over to (or 13 Avenue de Président Wilson, whichever is more convenient), we see that the latest hot news item is their new magazine - yes, printed on dead trees, not on a blog or wiki! - that costs 5-7 Euros (depending on where you live) or 4.50 GBP.

Every quarter, PALAIS / outlines the expanded artistic universe of the new program and invites many contributions from diverse fields: it features images of the exhibitions presented at the Palais de Tokyo, portfolios as well as texts by art critics or philosophers, writers, footballers, artists, etc. and a "carte blanche" given to another magazine.

Throughout PALAIS / is the notion of elasticity: it pulls art toward reality and reality toward art. Are there any potential points of rupture? Where are the intersections, those unlikely places where yodeling and quantum physics meet?

It is simply an interesting study in contrasts. I would actually like to see a mash-up of these approaches - presenting the intersections where quantum physics and yodeling meet, but through a podcast, Wi-Fi portal page, or file I download from Bit Torrent. I'll be happy to see what the Pomipdou makes of dabbling in giving away Wi-Fi and other possible digital efforts, as well as what Palais de Tokyo does with the "old media" - for now.
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Marcia Tucker

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, October 19. 2006 • Category: News
“Act first, think later — that way you have something to think about.”
Marcia Tucker, curator and founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Marcia Tucker, a forceful curator who responded to being fired from the Whitney Museum of American Art by founding the New Museum of Contemporary Art, died on October 17 at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 66.

Read the full obituary here, and a report from the memorial service

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Marketing the Museum

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, September 29. 2006 • Category: Musings
Seth Godin is a marketing guru who has published numerous books and has an excellent blog. I'm not a marketer nor a businessperson with a product to sell, but I read his blog anyways because I find the underlying psychology of marketing to be quite interesting. In the end, it's all about how people relate to people, a topic that should interest anyone who has to interact with people on a daily basis (which is probably 99% of us).

Usually the content on his blog is relevant to me on this fundamental level of human psychology, not as a curator or arts administrator directly. In one of his recent posts, however, Godin has some direct critiques for curators at museums:

I think in every single case, what keeps museums from being remarkable:

a. the curators think the item on display is the whole thing. As a result, they slack off and do less than they should in creating an overall story

b. they assume that visitors are focused, interested and smart. They are rarely any of the three. As a result, the visit tends to be a glossed over one, not a deep one or a transcendent one

c. science museums in particular almost beg people NOT to think.

I can't remember the last time a museum visit made my cry, made me sad or made me angry (except at the fact that they don't try hard enough).

Definitely some food for thought in there, though probably echoes of criticisms we are all well aware of. Godin wraps the post by saying:

The takeaway for me is that in fact the issues of storytelling and remarkability and respect are universal, whether you're a non-profit or a job-seeker. It's all people, all the time.

This is true, and why it is relevant for curators and arts administrators to look to other disciplines, like marketing, for new approaches from time to time.
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Job: Curator of New Media

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, September 18. 2006 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
National Museum of Photography, Film & Television
Location: Yorkshire & Humberside
Salary: £26,627 - £36,326
Closing date: 6 Oct 2006

The multiple award-winning NMPFT celebrates the power of the still and moving image which shape our understanding of the world. The Museum offers exciting opportunities to enjoy a rewarding, varied and challenging future within an open and inclusive culture for individuals with the skills we are looking for.

Assisting with the development of a New Media Collection, you will translate this subject area into engaging and innovative exhibitions, events and publications which appeal to a diverse range of audiences. An appreciation of how new media technologies can be used by museums, broadcasters and other channels to affect lives positively is essential.

The ideal candidate will have an arts related degree coupled with at least 5 years' experience in a gallery or similar environment. Strategically, commercially and financially aware, you have the credibility to manage a budget - making decisions confidently and sharing best practice at all times to create a truly memorable experience for our visitors. If you can add to this creative flair underpinned by some experience of working with artists and creative agents, bring your skills to an organisation that's as ambitious as you are.

We regret that we can only respond to successful applicants. No agencies. The NMPFT is an equal opportunities employer and particularly welcomes candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds.

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to Sabia Akhtar, HR Department, NMPFT, Pictureville, Bradford BDI INQ Tel 01274 203300 or email: nmpft.personnel -at-
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