Brief history of art curation in museums

ANA GONÇALVES MAGALHÃES HELOUISE COSTA About the authors

ABSTRACT

This article searches to understand the narratives built around the history of art curatorship as a social practice, considering some of its paradigms. We thus propose a counter-narrative to the tendency to contend art curatorship only as emerging in the second half of the 20th century. From the conservation of collections to temporary exhibitions, art curatorship has become a specialized field and has been responsible to articulate different discourses of the legitimization in the visual arts throughout the centuries. If in the first period, narratives of the visual arts and of the artists were built, in the 20th century and in face of modern art experiences, the focus was geared towards the education of the audience and of the museum professional staff. Since the 1960s, there has been a separation of a figure that was understood as one professional: the conservator (or collection curator) and the independent curator. In this process, the former has been considered as a mere technical employee of museum institutions, whereas the latter has gained the spotlight and a status as an author/creator. The inclusion of curatorial experiences that took place in Brazil in various historical moments serves as a critical counterpoint to the art curatorial practices in the framework of traditional European and US institutions, aiming at an approach that looks into the issue from the perspective of the globalization process.

KEYWORDS:
Art curatorship; Conservator; Independent curator; Art museum; Art collection

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E-mail: anaismp@usp.br