How does a museum curator do their job

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Eric Rose, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. jawarden

    jawarden Member
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    Are you suggesting Sarah Meister was being untruthful about her work? Did you listen to her speak?
     
  2. DREW WILEY

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    I dunno, Ron. Just a week ago I received the new volume on one significant part of my Aunt's WPA career. The curator did a pretty good job, but it's because she, for the most part, relied on our family archives. There are still quite a few minor errors. But at least some color reproductions still exist and are shown in the book of originals which were stolen from me, so can't ever be directly scanned. I know who stole em, and who received the stolen work, but they're both dead, the latter via a swat team Swiss-cheesing way worse than Bonnie & Clyde got - so the originals will probably never be recovered.
     
  3. DREW WILEY

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    I add that fair is fair. Curators seems to have a lot of stereotypes about how we photographers think, and they're often wrong. So it works both ways. But at a certain point, one has to distinguish the curator's role in the sense of preserving work of public interest as a conservator or facilities manager, from the degree they might pontificate on this or that. My remark about the oddity of dedicating a public venue to rap culture when it's visibly and audibly rampant all around anyway, is no worse than complaining about mosquitoes in a swamp. You don't need to be reminded about them, or have your attention drawn to them. Maybe later, when this generation's music will seem about as relevant as Lawrence Welk to your own grandchildren, and Smartphones will seem about as sensible as buggy whips.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019 at 9:45 PM
  4. cowanw

    cowanw Member
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    Ah! So Rupert of Hentzau finally got his comeuppance.
     
  5. jtk

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    Here's Eastman Museum's website. Looks wonderful for photo history and vintage technology.

    Doesn't seem to hint at contemporary photography or at the backgrounds or roles of curators who may be personally art or photo involved.

    In the Technicolor area it seems entirely focused on technology, not at all in the fabulously great work of Sony and others who are saving Technicolor's most important heritage: digitizing Technicolor films at a level of quality that's far beyond the film versions with which our parents are familiar (most notably Lawrence of Arabia).

    https://www.eastman.org/exhibitions
     
  6. BMbikerider

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    Whilst I am not a curator, I do work very closely with the archivist in an Industrial Museum in the North of England.( I Photograph the items before display) The archivist is also the curator, or will be when we get it up and running correctly. Having seen the way the work is carried out before the item is passed to me to be photographed, is exactly the way I described in reply number 17.

    At times it is a thankless task with a lot of frustration that the work seems to be never ending. It is only small museum when compared to the likes of the large national museums in UK but some of the artifacts come to us with very little explanation as to what they are and how they worked.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019 at 12:22 PM
  7. Bob Carnie

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    I work with curators all the time, have so for over 30 years now, some are great others are not... They are humans and have all our failings and goodness. I think though there are a lot of freelance curators who
    really do not have the chops to do the job, but once again that could be said of 90% of the photogaphers out there.
    and printers for that matter.
     
  8. pentaxuser

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    We seem to be rapidly heading for the bois de boulogne at 6:am with a choice of swords or flintlock pistols. It never fails to surprise me how often brave individuals will offer a thread like this when within a few posts it must seem to the originator to be such a waste of time.

    A real pity

    pentaxuser
     
  9. Europan

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    If doing historical cinema is a curator’s job, then I have been one. First from 1992 to 1995 with films from 1924 through the 80s, the other time 2001-02 with a lot of movies from the thirties and forties. At both places everything was historical, the projectors, tube rectifiers, carbon-arc lamps, tube amplifier, entirely manual projection, changeover, rewind, slides (also in carbon-arc light), tickets, cleaning. I deemed it important to address the visitors in person before every screening. The public authorities wouldn’t help in any way. I have studied art history and film’s science and madness. Ah, yes, the projectors I overhauled, too. The Zeiss-Ikon Ernemann V could be run at 25 fps as well as 24. One movie I showed was a music film that originated on 16mm at speed 25. Of course, the 3-to-4 image aspect ratio was respected with the corresponding productions. Finally it all went down the drain. The building got knocked down.

     
  10. jtk

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    There are all sorts of curatorial jobs and levels of commitment/skill (compare to Photrio's Media examples).

    Google and Wiki have allowed the Internet to be partially self-curatorial.

    Here's a dramatic example in an expanded professional photo-centric career profile:

    http://www.incredibleimages.com/Profile.html
     
  11. faberryman

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    Way too much information.
     
  12. jtk

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    Sorry...thought there might be a few here who would be curious about how someone with a big time photo career shares his history ( rear view mirror) in an evolving and growing fashion). It's beyond amateur material...but we're not all amateurs. It caught me when I was looking to see who else, other than myself, friends, and associates, had been involved with massive multi projector slide shows. There's more to museum photo exhibits than depressing street snaps.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Thank you jtk, I shall take the time and look through it, already found some intriguing work.
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

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    I didn't quite get Cowan's wisecrack, but he obviously knows less than zero about the significance of WPA work or the extent it does involve curators, major museum collections, and even the National Historic Register.
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Drew, as you used that abbreviation twice I would like to know what it means.
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member
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    Works Progress Administration. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, the US Govt hired some of the very best photographers like Dorothea Lange to document the crisis, as well as major painters of that era for public art - call it propaganda if you like, but it was mainly for boosting public morale while providing employment using public works expenditure. For example, my late aunt has more paintings on the National Historic Register than anyone else in history. These were predominantly fresco murals on public buildings. Her portable paintings were mostly snatched up by major museums, so never come up for sale. But my own season of interaction with curators was mostly either in relation to my own work or as a technical consultant for various museum facilities. What seems to discourage most curators is that they have to expend so much time just trying to get sufficient funding to keep their museum venue open.
     
  18. jtk

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    Fyi I was blown away by the "too much" you mentioned...that wasn't a negative thing for me because I directly related to this man's life work....it was clear that the site was built with the gamble that there were a very few people who would relate somewhat fully to it.

    It's exactly the sort of thing great classical musicians do when they collect and share their life work with other classical musicians. They CURATE their lives for others.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

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    One of the biggest budget items for a museum is the air conditioning. To preserve things you need air conditioning that is very very good.

    PE
     
  20. DREW WILEY

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    Oh gosh, museum AC is a nightmare here, where the fog is full of corrosive ocean salt. A lot of the historic photo conservation similarly involves mildew fixing. Most of Carleton Watkin's albumen prints were destroyed in the fire following the 1906 SF earthquake. What remained in private custody wasn't always in good shape due to condensation and mildew behind glass. It's rare to see a clean print of his. What has filtered its way into the permanent museum collection probably takes a lot of work.
     
  21. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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    I did a project at the Brooklyn Museum that had the second largest Egyptian artifacts (after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan) and handled the temperature and humidity controls through a computer based system for new Art Storage area. Unfortunately, the area, an old existing area they had set aside, did not have a vapor barrier in the exterior wall so it was almost impossible to maintain the humidity at 48-52%, the requirement for the art. I had to fluctuate the temperature to maintain a humidity in that range. The HVAC systems were not cheap!!

    As an aside, I once was called into to fix a problem with the controls in the Egyptian WIng of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Temple of Dendur. I got there early before the mechanical contractor arrived and before the Museum opened. I went to the Temple area waiting for the contractor, and standing in front the moat, looking at the temple, an eerie feeling came over me like I never felt before. It was like I was taken back 3000 years and was standing the front of this Temple back then. I even felt a slight breeze, which was impossible as it's indoors. AFter I got past that, I started to explore the place alone. I went into the temple section which I wasn't suppose to, turned left and there scribbled on the wall was some guy's scratches with his name and a date around 1834 or there abouts. Suddenly a guard came by and started to yell at me to get out of there. Interesting experience.

    Here's the area where I was standing in front of the moat.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=met...6#imgdii=StCD_exabR9JaM:&imgrc=4tuTQ9rm4yxJUM:

    Here' a better look at the temple.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=met...6#imgdii=YIu1_OXRC-c6QM:&imgrc=4tuTQ9rm4yxJUM:
     
  22. cowanw

    cowanw Member
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    Rupert of Hentzau was the one of the bad guys in the Prisoner of Zenda, who was both stylish and would have had an appreciation for Art and never seemed to have to pay a price for his larceny. You description( I know who stole em, and who received the stolen work, but they're both dead, the latter via a swat team Swiss-cheesing way worse than Bonnie & Clyde got )- of the alleged perpetrators of your theft struck me humourous in a cartoonish sort of way and reminded me of Rupert. In point of fact Rupert did get his comeuppance in the generally unknown sequel " Rupert of Hentzau ".
    You are quite right, I know nothing about the WPA. WIKI suggests

    and (as per your usage), WPA, a 2009 album by the music band Works Progress Administration.

    I apologize for my sense of humour.
     
  23. DREW WILEY

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    Well, thanks for reminding me of just how stupid the web can be. I enjoy wry humor, so perhaps I'm the one who should apologize. But under the context of museum curators, I don't think anything you've cited would be a logical link, unless there are indeed museums dedicated to billiard balls (which there probably are somewhere), or museums dedicated to psychiatric associations (which include padded cell dioramas). But there is one thing in common with both early post-ivory billiard balls and early camera film - both were made with celluloid and had a reputation for catching fire. The balls even did it sometimes when they were struck with the stick. So you might be on the right track after all.
     
  24. DREW WILEY

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    Well, Alan, this implies that in any city big and important enough for a museum, the curator is expected to bring a sleeping bag to work, otherwise they'd be homeless.
     
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