Museums and the future of curatorship

Philipp Schorch
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Conal McCarthy
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What is the future of curatorial practice? How can the relationships between Indigenous people in the Pacific, collections in Euro-American institutions and curatorial knowledge in museums globally be (re)conceptualised in reciprocal and symmetrical ways? Is there an ideal model, a ‘curatopia’, whether in the form of a utopia or dystopia, which can enable the reinvention of ethnographic museums and address their difficult colonial legacies? This volume addresses these questions by considering the current state of the play in curatorial practice, reviewing the different models and approaches operating in different museums, galleries and cultural organisations around the world, and debating the emerging concerns, challenges and opportunities. The subject areas range over native and tribal cultures, anthropology, art, history, migration and settler culture, among others. Topics covered include: contemporary curatorial theory, new museum trends, models and paradigms, the state of research and scholarship, the impact of new media and current issues such as curatorial leadership, collecting and collection access and use, exhibition development and community engagement. The volume is international in scope and covers three broad regions – Europe, North America and the Pacific. The contributors are leading and emerging scholars and practitioners in their respective fields, all of whom have worked in and with universities and museums, and are therefore perfectly placed to reshape the dialogue between academia and the professional museum world.

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‘The ultimate achievement of Curatopia is to go beyond mere critics and to seriously engage in potential futures and concrete strategies, based on real curatorial experiences in museums in Europa, North America and the Pacific. In light of its programmatic title – and as an alternative to burning museums so to say – Curatopia opens up a space where “museums have a role to play”

‘Curatopia: Museums and the Future of Curatorship is a welcome compendium that values and explores the diverse, complex and increasingly experimental roles that curators perform in the 21st century. It provides a timely discourse in an era when the role of curators is threatened by economic rationalism and reduced by the demand for content producers in those museums that prioritize entertainment over conversations about divergent histories, difficult issues and multiple world-views.
The Journal of Pacific History
January 2020

‘Curatopia is largely about navigating decolonization together as the colonizer and the colonized, the ‘curatopia’ being the journey that must be taken by museum professionals, museum audiences and source communities alike. Throughout the book, this argument is proven to be multifaceted, achieved through eighteen thoroughly distinguished chapters and two afterwords that display an admirable devotion to progress in the museums sector.'
Journal of Curatorial Studies
January 2020

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