Professional Development Lecture – Andre Stitt

Curation Exhibition Production

What makes a good curator?

  • Curator Contemporary … Selected interpreter of selected works of art in a show 

                                        … Also now includes many other elements, producer, educator and elevator

                                        … Might have to commission new works 

  • 21stcentury curator may have to interact in public now / talks etc…
  • Curator is likely to be the person writing the labels/ catalogue essays/ web texts/ social media

Different Types of Curators 

  • Museum curators/ specialist curators (e.g. print/ ceramic/ etc)
  • Independent curators (freelance etc.)/ head of department curator
  • Artist (as) curator – break free of major institutional “disregard academic rigor” as in terms of conventional rules 
  • “Curator could be creating the project as a work of art in itself”

The curator an… for ideas

  • Hans Ulbricht Obrist – Serpentine Gallery – Unique Curator
  • Ideas and inspirations/ curator as responsive
  • What are current debates/ what are current trends important to grab attention

In regards to our show, how are we going to be different to past years?

  • Important to engage in as many different experiences of out as possible 

“Stakeholders, funders or sponsors agenda”

  • Interested parties/ permissions/ agendas 
  • Use buzz words to create interest
  • Might go to the local arts council 

+ they might want to know the impact on the locals

+ might want workshops/ educational elements

Types of Exhibition

  • Collection displays – works from permanent collections of a museum or gallery
  • Special display – implies something exceptional 
  • ‘in-focus’ display – work from other institutions
  • Temporary exhibitions – e.g. artes mundi 
  • Monographic Exhibitions –  a focus on one mid-career artist or retrospective 
  • Historic Exhibitions – Made from artists
  • Periodic Exhibitions – Biennale – Italian for ‘every other year’

Commissioned Projects

  • Provides curators and artists with the opportunity of funded works
  • Turbine Hall – etc. Olafur Eliasson – The weather project 

                                  Louise Bourgeois – I do, Redo, Undo

Art Fairs

  • “Touring Exhibitions” – if things sell it will continuously change
  • Enhances reputation
  • May get other works from this

Performance Art Festivals 

  • Tempting Failure 
  • National review of live art
  • NIPAF – Nippon international performance art festival 

[2] Exhibition – Production

What makes a great exhibition?

20 Percent flair and Administration 80 Percent …

What you need to think about and what you need to do.

Exhibition  outline document proposal::

  • Name of curator/s and contacts
  • Proposal (venue space location)
  • Rationale for this choice 
  • Date proposal
  • Scale/ space
  • Work types 
  • Displays 
  • Use of space/ plinths
  • Exhibition concept
  • Open access/ narrative etc…
  • Rationale for timing of exhibition
  • Could unlock funding 
  • Contemporary relevance 
  • Potential audience
  • Potential tour venues
  • Budgets
  • Biography of artists
  • Initial list of artists
  • Details of any publications planned 
  • Writers include/ works included
  • Last comparable exhibition 
  • What makes it different

Planning and spotting potential issues

-discuss ideas with trusted mentor/ college 

– Discuss with old tutors 

– discuss relevancy with other curators

– refine your documents

-finalise artworks – All elements listed/ w. photographer credits and copyright rights

– images; name; title; medium dimensions; date; location; photographer

Contingency Works-

How will works be installed/ space planning online + 3d models of work

Budgets and Fundraising

  • Need realistic Budget
  • Check money available
  • Stick to the budget
  • Contingency within your budget 
  • Financial accountability
  • Double check with someone else 
  • Funding sponsors/ sponsorship in kind

-E.G. getting logos off companies 

-Students Names / recognition

  • Identifying and persuading sponsors
  • Charitable trusts and foundations
  • Taring agreements and fees

-Legally binding documents/ contracts

Contracts, Recognitions and obligations 

  • Institutions
  • Commercial galleries 
  • Artist initiatives 
  • Individual artists
  • Organisations

Exhibition Fees

  • Curators fees/ Artists Fees/ Others

Exhibition Payment

  • AN – Paying exhibition Guide
  • Don’t be afraid to ask about the money

Plan Evaluations 

  • Walkthrough / space flow
  • Use of space 
  • Visitors surveys 
  • Design 
  • Overseeing print and productions

Practical Onsite Installation and Management 

  • The venue and its architecture 
  • Exhibition design;  CAD, scale models and walking the space
  • Sequencing exhibition with works of art
  • How long visitor will spend with an exhibition?
  • Technology and new media – booking AV equipment 
  • Black Box Spaces 
  • Building walls/ wall colours
  • Signage 

Display Furniture; Plinths, Perspex/ Plexiglass Covers, space, visitor access, object display, step back distance, Barriers, insurance – Research in different types // public liability insurance, transport 

What happens when the art arrives: Storage/ Animal insect infestation

Document the exhibition process/ Great for promo

Health and Safety – Risk Assessment 

  • Sharp Edges 
  • Strobe lighting 
  • Moving elements/ danger elements
  • Adapter plugs/ step down plugs
  • Trailing cables/ wires
  • Hazardous chemicals 
  • Organic materials/ fire risk 
  • Installation of works/ e.g. ladders

Martin Williams – Risk assessment for CSAD

CSAD – ethics committee/ photos etc. DNA


Handling works of art:

  • Installation schedule 
  • How long to complete works
  • Fixing works to the walls 
  • Placing the work on plinths, lighting agree on lay art 
  • Sign off H+S issues 
  • Educational events, resource spaces, areas 
  • Public liability insurance


  • Chris Denis – CSAD contact
  • Writing press release 
  • Private view
  • Mailing lists 
  • Social media
  • Posters/ e flyers
  • Refreshments
  • Planning opening event 

During/ After:

  • Documents exhibition/ Invigilation
  • Follow up enquiries and building a network
  • Taking down show – get out transport

Key things curators need to do post opening

  • Tacks, tours, public engagement, patrons, sponsors
  • Press PR, interviews, networks 
  • Walk through with the public
  • Regular installation checks 
  • Thank you letters
  • Evaluation + review:  success and learning from mistakes

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