Curating Cities

I was reading about a friend’s project for the Festival of Ideas for the New City and it talks about the curating process.   Curating is something that Leigh had also mentioned to me in the context of urban design.  I’m now finding the word fascinating!   It is most often associated with the worlds of musuems and galleries, one might wonder what it has to do with urban design.  Through my experience in exhibition design at IwB I had especially enjoyed the idea of curating public art or gallery exhibitions around urbanism (to broaden the public discussion in engaging ways).  So much so I also recently applied unsuccessfully to the Young Curators Program with the CCA in Montreal, and I had even pondered taking up Curating and Musuem Studies at one point.  

I had more often described my role on projects as “faciliating” outcomes but more and more this “curating” makes sense.  As she described, the word implies much more thought, direction and consideration than mere facilitation.  A curated musuem collection takes the same care as a curated public space.  Funnily even in yesterday’s panel the idea of “city culture” came up, so if viewing cities and places as indeed truly social and cultural contructs then “curating” makes even more sense.

from wikipedia >> Curator (from Latin cura, care), means manager, overseer.Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, library or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution’s collections. The object of a traditional curator’s concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it be inter alia artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections.

 What I like about that idea in cities – as curators of place and culture – that wiki definition starts to hint at key placemaking ideas about – responsbility, care and organising a collection of things (which in the urban context could be objects, acitivity, people etc).  And prehaps suggests planning/design is as much an art as it is a science.

Urban Curator – a new job title???


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