Hard Choices: Should You Become a Museum Curator?

After graduating summa cum laude from Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies, you found yourself pounding the pavement as an independent curator. You earned a name for yourself by organizing a number of well-received shows filled with rising stars. Yet it feels like you are running in circles. As much as you value your freedom, you’re tired of constantly hunting for the next low-paying gig. An associate curator position just opened up at a major museum where you possess a real inside advantage. But are you ready to give up your autonomy? Imagine dealing with these real world curatorial situations before submitting your application.

 1. You are asked to quickly come up with a list of emerging artists for shows in the small ground-floor gallery. You:

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 a. Don’t know which of your already drafted lists to choose from after years of Instagram lurking.

b. Propose a group show featuring the last seven people you talked to and your best friend.

c. Choose octogenarian artists and rebrand them as “emerging”


2. The artist you just invited to make a large commissioned installation asks you what the budget is for the project. You respond:

a. “I’ll share access to my Dropbox folder so that you can see all my organizational spreadsheets.”

b. “The budget is modest, but it’s a great opportunity for exposure.”

c. “Let’s see what you want to do then we’ll think about the budget.”


3. Late at night in a Bushwick bar, a cool artist in your upcoming group show offers you drugs. You:

a. Abstain and remind them that drugs killed Basquiat and Dash Snow in their prime.

b. Say yes and throw in leftover MDMA from your art hang in Fire Island.

c. Tell them that you only get high off of decolonization.


4. The museum director asks you to babysit a notoriously handsy trustee during art fair week. You:

a. Spike the trustee’s drink with Ketamine and get him to write a check before passing out.

b. Commence a years-long secret relationship with the trustee that everyone knows about.

c. Lodge a formal complaint with the human resources department before macing the director on your way out the door.

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5. The show you proudly curated is now being protested by participating artists and banner-waving activists in the lobby. You:

a. Call the cops on them.

b. Host a listening session and emphatically nod at everything being said.

c. Sign their protest letter, add a new wall text, and keep the show up for a win-win situation.


6. You once again bump into an artist at an opening who you promised to do a studio visit with before an already slated but yet to be publicly announced biennial. You:

a. Blame it on your prosopagnosia and watch them Google what that word means as you walk away.

b. Apologize, reschedule, break the appointment at the last minute, and block them on social media.

c. Play off your embarrassment by giving them a retrospective without ever having a visit.


7. The gnarly budtender at the local dispensary refers to himself as a “curator.” You:

a. Ask him who he studied with at the Wattis Institute.

b. Hug the nug curator and introduce him to your brother-in-law, the registrar of reefer.

c. Call the cops on him.


0–4:  You entered curating wide-eyed and ready to join the pantheon of art history. You ingested art journals, invoked heroes, and hoofed it to every gallery while thinking about how to reshape visual culture and make the world better, wiser, and happier. Your destiny is to wander the earth as an independent curator and to spread the good news to every hamlet of the art world via your weekly personal email blasts.

5–9: You’re an eager curator. Artists still inspire you and “blow your mind.” You make that abundantly clear by leaving strings of beating heart emojis on their social media posts. Before you can hang a single painting on an institution’s wall, you must first curate your inner museum. Curatorial greatness can only be achieved by maintaining your passion, and museums are famously places where love goes to die. Have you ever considered teaching? Upstate New York is so lovely in the fall.

10–14: Congratulations, you are ready to curate a blockbuster museum exhibition of NFT manga art and expensive man toys for global celebrity influencers and market manipulators, all funded by weapons dealers, authoritarian money launderers, pharmaceutical families, creepy Euros, middle-aged sneaker collectors, and human traffickers. In fact, you may be the very glue that secures the New World Order. Good luck with the job interview!

Source: artnews.com

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