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Behind the Scenes Curatorial

What Does It Mean To “Curate”?

Pin board of a Milwauke Art Museum Curator. Photo by Mel Buchanan.
Pin board of a Milwauke Art Museum Curator. Photo by Mel Buchanan.

Although I try very hard not to bring work home with me, sometimes (okay, most of the time) I can’t help it. I just love museums, and so I often find myself thinking about them after 5 p.m.

Something I’ve been mulling over for a while is the use of the word “curate”, and how the phrase has become a buzzword around the world wide web. What does the word “curate” mean in popular language–and more importantly, what does it mean for museum professionals that this word is being re-appropriated?

It was because of the social media site Pinterest that I started thinking about how people who aren’t museum professionals or art historians use the word curate.