WHERE HAVE ALL THE CURATORS GONE?

Professional Forum
Zoe Samels, National Gallery of Art, USA

Two curators from the National Gallery of Art attended a museum technology conference in 2015 and were intrigued by the lack of curatorial presence. This prompted us to wonder: how might curatorial and digital staff work together from the beginning of a project? What do we need to know about our divergent working processes? If we begin with similar goals in mind, how might we create a shared language to work from? In this session, National Gallery of Art curators and technologists will explore what it means for one museum to take steps towards true collaboration between digital and curatorial departments, with a particular focus on the production of online scholarly content and how technology has changed the nature of curatorial work. We will also touch on how curators can learn from the burgeoning field of digital art history. We aim to spark a participatory discussion about the curatorial/technological divide and how the new museum workplace must foster a shared commitment to interdepartmental collaboration.

Bibliography:
Both my co-author and I have been the curatorial digital lead in our respective departments during the production of "Online Editions" (digital systematic catalogues) here at the National Gallery of Art:
http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/online-editions.html. Jen was involved in the initial Online Edition as part of the Getty Institute's OSCI initiative.

This proposal was also informed by Diane Zorich's 2012 report to the Kress Foundation about the state of digital art history: "Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship"
http://www.kressfoundation.org/research/transitioning_to_a_digital_world/
Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship

Finally, this article about SF MoMA's new app highlights the breakdown we see between technologists and curators when it comes to producing digital content and the lack of collaboration between the two when conceptualizing and realizing digital projects:
http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/2016/07/robust-app-weak-tours-my-wsj-review-of-sfmomas-technological-transformation.html