Thursday, 20 December 2012

Behind the scenes at the museum

When I was a young lass, I can't remember anyone aspiring to be a curator when they grew up. Curators were associated with museums and long-dead dusty creatures encased in woodworm-infested display cabinets. Of course, museums have changed since then. Gone are the hand-scribed labels in fading purple copperplate and the forgotten cellar atmosphere. It's all flashing lights and hands-on experience.

Curator, from the Latin curare ("take care") traditionally meant someone who took care of and managed objects - artefacts, specimens, paintings or sculptures. But recently, as we've entered the digital age, the role has widened to include digital content and data - and, with it, interpretation and selection as well as simply "taking care".

Today's curators are Rock 'n Roll. Literally. I have seen the word in connection not just with contemporary art exhibitions, but with music festivals and DJs, with technology and even with curators of style and taste. It makes sense that with so much more creation going on as a result of the digital explosion, that there must also be more curation: interpretation, selection, guidance, juxtaposition, focus.

There are even people whose job description is Brand Curator. Whether this is what used to be a Brand Manager is not clear but these people have the remit of "delivering a curated set of customer experiences" as I read recently.

In these times of rapid change in marketing directors and departments, there does seem to be a need for one person in a company - with experience and a real feel for the brand - to take the role of Brand Curator. While focussing on the past and assimilating the present as it happens, such a person could also be of great use in guiding the latest marketing director into the future.

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