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Museums are institutions present in every society and their importance lies in the
pride of representing cultural heritage, as well as contribute to the public and their education. Their main purposes are preserving history’s treasures, promoting access to culture and also giving space to new artistic manifestations. Different professionals are working in this context, one of the most representative is the curator, this role is fundamental as a player and facilitator between the artwork and the audience. The curator is the person who chooses and exhibits what the public will see in a museum, therefore, is in charge of making people’s visit a memorable experience. 
This essay will explain three main principles related to this area; the curatorship research, its evolution over time and its effectiveness. It will then show the applications of these principles in our society and evaluate their benefits in our culture. 

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The curator can be defined as the person who selects the pieces of arts, connects with the audience and displays a complete art experience. Etymologically, the word curator comes from Latin language curare and it means to look after or to take care. It is related to concern, responsibility and supervision (McDonald, 2010). However, nowadays, this position has implications beyond the artefacts, this role might be paramount in the failure or success of an exhibition.
In ancient Roman culture, curatorship meant to take care of baths. After that, in Medieval society it was linked with a religious concept, curators were in charge of looking after people’s souls. Later on, in the eighteenth century, the word curator started to be equivalent with the concept that we know in the present day, to take care of exhibitions, collections and pieces of art (Ulrich, 2014).

In what follows, the three principles of a curated museum experience mentioned above will be described and connected with cases easily recognised in the curator’s performance.

The first principle, enunciated as curatorship research, is connected with one of the most relevant aspects of a curator’s job. For an exhibition’s starting point the information is fundamental, and the curator is the person who supplies relevant material about the topic; including artists, artworks, influences, references and trends. As part of curator’s tasks, an exhaustive and rigorous research is compulsory. To understand the meaning of an artwork is imperative to know its history and the artist’s story, in behalf of getting an accurate interpretation. Thompson (1992) explains that the curator is there to contribute with knowledge, and if it is necessary has to initiate a research activity. In this sense, it is impossible to conceive a curator as a competitor to the artist, this relationship has to be helpful for both of them, reciprocal, synergic. 
According to Ulrich (2014), the curator’s role has to be collaborative, and its significance remains in the fact that another person can do something that you are not able to do. Consequently, dialogue between curator and artist is the key to achieving an astounding craft. 

Labels display beside artefacts are one application of this principle. They might contain useful information like title, year, artist and materials, but the curator decides if it is necessary to include more text to give extra context and to help future interpretations. A curator also determines the length, tone and vocabulary used.
Pertinent with this issue, Idema (2014) asserts that labels help to conceive a significant engaging experience with the artwork, labels response to the answer that people do not express aloud, but remain in their minds. 

Another application of the research principle can be observed in gallery guides, they manage abundant information about collections, but their mission is to offer a pleasant tour, which is closer to be a conversation rather than a master class. Idema (2014) admits that their existence is a wonderful idea because they invite people to decelerate and think deeper about what they are looking at, they are mainly a useful resource in an art museum, where people can wonder, imagine and debate about the meaning of pieces of art. 

The second principle is associated with the curatorship evolution over time. The arts have been changing the way how they engage with the audience, from a passive reception to an active participation, boundaries between audiences and performers have been broken. For instance, in the improvisational theatre the assistants never know if they could end up being part of the show. Also, it is interesting to observe what it is happening with festivals around the world. The company Royal Deluxe with its Giant performances, for example, takes over the streets to change the whole city environment for a couple of days. At the same time, without a doubt, this is occurring in the museum experience, the practice of curatorship has been evolved from a discreet beginning, based mainly in the organisation, into an active cooperation. In this sense it is essential to name Harald Szeemann, who revolutionised the curatorial practice, he has been recognised as the most influential curator of the post World War II era. Working most of his time as a freelancer, his work was developed predominantly in outdoor spaces and he is well known for his work mixing different art techniques in the same exhibition, plus for the tight relationships built between artists and him (Müller, 2016).

As previously mentioned, arts are changing, museums are transforming and consequently, the role of a curator is expanding. Museums used to be an educational resource, while nowadays, they have a recreational function; helping to promote tourism and the identity of a town, city or country. Marepo (1995) observes that museums must be honoured about its contribution to the sense of belonging to a society, as they are wardens of heritage and identity. In addition, Schubert (2009) confirms that museums are not an area of true veracity, radical definitions and undoubtful responses anymore, presently they are more accessible and it exists a pursuit of a new redefinition, hence; curators must adapt to these new requirements. The author asseverates that museums are in continuous development, movement, and insists that this fact is a positive sign of vitality. 

The principle of evolution has been applied in several interactive experiences in these institutions. Often, museums prefer to keep the art disconnected with the artist, but there are some exceptions. For instance, as part of the exhibition called It’s for you curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist there was a telephone ringing sometimes, if visitors picked up the phone, they could talk with the famous Japanese artist Yoko Ono in real time (Idema, 2014).

An interactive experience related to this principle is taking place in The Louvre Museum in Paris, where it is possible to get a closer contact with art by touching sculptures, thanks to the permanent exhibition called Touch Gallery. Idema (2014) asserts that this practice used to be highly popular during previous centuries, treated as an indispensable way to enjoy the artwork. In this case, the evolution principle is going forward and backwards; at 
the beginning it used to be common to touch artefacts, later on, it was forbidden and now it is getting a frequent practice again.
Another application to mention occurred in Tate Modern in London, once they allow the audience to create labels by themselves, so they could explain with their own words the art and stick them next to the artist’s work (Idema, 2014).

Finally, the third and last principle to analyse is the exhibition effectiveness: how an exhibition can be remarkable. According to Belcher (1991), the most effective exhibition is not necessarily the one which brings more people to the museum. Success is also related to the capacity of the audience to remember the essence, subject and matter of it the next day, even over the years. Belcher describes three crucial factors to measure this success: structure of the exhibition itself, message or content, and finally the audience and their capacity to understand the collection and behave in this creative space.

According to Belcher (1991), evaluations must be focused on granting the visitors a rewarding and delightful experience. To measure this fact, different kinds of evaluations are available, these incorporate statistics, surveys, focus groups, informal conversations, comment books and long-term research works. The author ensures that it is more significant if data is evaluated and combined, to secure a learning process for future exhibitions, and finally to improve the audience experience next time.  

One application of this principle is how music can reinforce the experience and make a visit more effective. Idema (2014) establishes that moderate music has the power to create a propitious atmosphere because it can lead a profound interpretation. The author also suggests that the public can bring their own portable music player, to get a particular art perspective if the exhibition does not have this resource. 

Souvenirs present in the gift shop are the second application of this principle: postcards, books, pens, refrigerator magnets or toys can prolong the museum experience, making it more unforgettable. Idema (2014) supports that if the spectator thinks, at least, one more time about an exhibition afterwards, its effectiveness increase. According to this, souvenirs are a good memory helper.

The correct utilisation of these topics can intensify the relationship between museums and audience, creating a tighter engagement. Finally, this fact generates a more significant contact.

In terms of evaluation, if these principles are applied conscientiously, it will be possible to build a gratifying museum experience and different factors can enhance it. Idema (2014) lists components which are not regularly in the centre of attention, such as the presence of windows and chairs in the galleries, charisma and knowledge of guards and guides, even the treats at cafes and restaurants are mentioned.

Museum’s core are exhibitions and they support curator’s vision, that is why this role is elementary. Curators have the ability to display objects with knowledge and passion, unpacking the meaning and presenting it to the general audience. Currently, they have the challenge to integrate multidisciplinary arts in the same gallery, to improve the whole experience provided. Verwoert (2010) addresses the fact that curating consists in connecting and stimulating the clash between art and people, promoting a mutual cultural demonstration. The only manner to make this possible is through trustful communication: “To curate means to talk things into being” (p. 24) and this is associated with social alliances and not just with exhibitions, galleries or events. This author emphasizes the necessity to create channels of communication to facilitate the delivery of messages between all the elements committed to a project such as a curator, artist, press, and audience.

Art is linked to life, ergo it is possible to feel different emotions in an exhibition, Idema (2014) insists that awkward feelings can be a positive reaction because the artwork pushes the audience to the edge of their comfort zone, where the breathtaking moments take place. Museums generate a powerful encounter, installing the spectator face to face with the unknown, with representations of diverse civilisations, cultures and artists. 
It is meaningful to mention a regular interrogation about the preponderance of digital media and if eventually, this technology can replace museums. In this sense, experts ensure that nothing replaces the authenticity of significant artefacts presented in a well-told narrative. For example, it results touching what artist and curators displayed in Tuol Sleng, the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Kelly (2001) considers it as the most moving museum in Southeast Asia, it is established in the exact place of extermination and the rooms that public can visit, were the real torture cells back in 1975. It is also possible to see documents, letters, weapons, pictures, clothes and even bones of the victims. The idea is to swamp the crowd in an authentic experience, narrating the history through an audio guide, which includes traditional music, some survivor’s voices and their remembrances. Unequivocally, this exhibition generates a heartbreaking museum experience and accomplish the aim to remember, to show a dark part of the history and ask the audience to be aware of the horrors occurred in that place. 

To conclude, these three principles of curatorship which are research, evolution and effectiveness are necessary to discover a satisfying museum experience. Undertake a deep investigation and make an interactive relationship are essential elements to get favorable results for both parts: museums and audience. 

The curator’s role is essential to found an advantageous exhibition, where public’s visit is going further than pure knowledge, a superb curator knows that people’s participation has to be related to feelings and instincts. In this world saturated of messages, the challenge is to capture people’s attention, giving them valuable content and inviting them to feel, to think about a particular issue. Transforming this moment in a memorable day in their lives. 

Museums are an enjoyment for people of all ages, social and academic status, their benefits in our culture are significant not only for education but also for entertainment and national identity. Arts are in continuous evolution, discovery and development, so it is pertinent to understand museums as an alive and flexible structure, that are in an endless transformation. 


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