Salon 1: A Curator’s Tale explored the constantly evolving idea of “curation.” From algorithms that recognize and recommend music to museum visitors who participate in organizing crowd-sourced exhibitions, curatorial practice has reached a dynamic and controversial stage. This first salon asked the speakers and the audience what it means to be a curator, both within a museum and outside museum walls in the commercial, educational, and social arenas.

These are some of the questions we asked our speakers and audience to consider:

  • Is the “curatorial turn” a passing metaphor (like the “edited” lives, libraries, and wardrobes of a few years ago) or does it mark a healthy and necessary development of life and culture, both online and in the physical world?
  • Does online curation undermine the authority of museum curators, as some commenters believe?
  • What do all these new curators have in common?
  • Does the increasingly prevalent use of the verb “to curate” indicate a more active, and perhaps more democratic involvement with culture by diverse individuals–or is it just another way for the capitalist machine to consume, market, and brand?

Reading Resources


Ann Temkin

Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art

Jeff Jarvis

Professor and Director, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism; founder of the blog Buzz Machine (@jeffjarvis)

Maria Popova

“Interestingness hunter-gatherer obsessed with combinatorial creativity.” Editor of @brainpickings & @explorer (@brainpicker)

Tor Erik Hermansen

Co-founder of Stargate (with partner Mikkel Storleer Eriksen), a record producing and songwriting team responsible for, among other hits, Beyoncé’s Irreplaceable, Rihanna’s What’s My Name? and Diamonds, and Wiz Khalifa’s Black and Yellow.