Emerging Curatorial Models & Transformation

“We went from years in the red to doubling our budget and building up an operating reserve and we did it by opening up the doors for people to be involved.”—Nina Simon, museum director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History


“I think there’s a general feeling that the terms of this sort of engagement with the public haven’t been carefully thought out…Some of these projects may be difficult to sustain over the longer term without, in some way, dramatically changing the nature and even the missions of these institutions.”—Peter Eleey, curator of MoMA PS1

“I don’t believe that everybody is a curator, something about the power of art and the sanctity of the public trust had been compromised.”—Susan Leask,former curator of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and Hisotry


“I wondered if this mirrored the trend in museums to ‘share authority’ by allowing visitors to create meaning and often curate exhibitions through the collections. It’s all about democratisation – as they say ‘history from below’. This could also be applied to art museums… art from below.”—Gail Ritchie, artist


“In most galleries so much importance is put on creating a hallowed space for the next exhibition, making a force field of protection around the gallery that distinguishes it from the rest of the world. It’s a funny thing to change a space only to make a protected environment for the next person to come along—it seems incredibly perverse and I realised if you do that continuously, you just get gallery fatigue, you begin to understand too much what that gallery is made of and the place no longer has any meaning. The question for us was whether there is also a fatigue of endless possibilities, of change and transformation.”—Gavin Wade,artist-curator


As being outside any art institutions, I am very interested in how art institutions attract new audiences by transforming the curatorial approach, because any organization or individual applying for funding supports would come across these questions, “how to attract audience? How to develop a new targeted market?”

In recent years among arts organizations and institutions a lot of new curatorial models have emerged, where ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘artistsourcing’ are the more prominent types. In order to get more audience involved in art activities, art institutions become more open to the curatorial principals and processes to enable more public to interact with art. Although such attempts are not always successful, it is still worth trying.

Even though it is difficult to tell if it is a more open, democratic and risk-taking curatorial practice, or merely a reserved approach inside a small circle, this new curatorial model challengs the old ones and appeals a very broad development. With the continuous development and improvement of this new curatorial model, it would be a tremendous contribution to the development and diversification of contemporary art.

The transformation is also a very interesting subject. The transformation of space and concept is of major concern to many artist curators, often deriving from their personal practices in which they transform materials, ideas and the internal environment of their artworks. This desire to shape and redefine the physical, psychological and contextual aspects of their own work also seeps into their curatorial practice as a natural progression.

Recently, transforming exhibition space evokes a new trend, which encourages more attention to the artwork itself and the exploring process, rather than just presents the exhibition and artworks as a complete ‘product’, this new attempt of which adds diversity and new vitality to contemporary art.