Friday, December 07, 2012


If you’re an art museum director at present the most likely thing you're out there hunting for is a senior curator. There was a time in NZ when only the biggest institutions had more than one curator but now smaller institutions have added more and with them another layer to manage them. Today the City Gallery, Te Papa and the Govett-Brewster are all after a senior curator. And it’s not just in New Zealand that these senior curators are in demand. In Los Angeles three art institutions are on the hunt for one of their own.

Regular art curators are the ones who get to look at art, pick the shows, mess around in artists' studios, visit entertaining collectors and spend time in the storerooms gloating over the purchases they have made by bidding in exciting auctions. Senior art curators, on the other hand, all too often are handed the administrative end of the stick. They get to spend their time making sure that the regular curators are free to have their fun. Hmmmm.

So eyes will be on Auckland’s recent appointment of Zara Stanhope as senior curator aka principal curator. Will she slip into an admin role or see herself as the kind of lead curator who sets the curatorial agenda, develops the programme and takes on the plum exhibitions? How ever she plays it, it’s now one down and three to go.
Image: Legendary British curator David Sylvester back in the day