Curators with and without Collections: A Comparative Study of Changes in the Curator’s Work at National Museums in Finland and in the Baltic States

Jana Reidla

Abstract


Traditionally, the curator’s work has been in close connection with the main functions of the museum – preservation, research, and communication. The changes that have occurred at museums over the past few decades have also influenced the profession of curator. Specialisation has taken place inside the museum, and so the curator’s functions have also changed. This article focuses on the curator’s field of work at national museums in Finland and in the Baltic states. The analysis is mainly based on interviews conducted with curators and other museum professionals at the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian History Museum, the National History Museum of Latvia, the National Museum of Lithuania, and the National Museum of Finland. Emanating from the PRC model provided by the Reinwardt Academy as well as the global changes induced by the new museology, the focus is on the curator’s connection with museum collections. The analysis shows that the curator’s role is not similar in all the museums under discussion; there are regional differences in structure, curatorial duties, and priorities. While at some museums the curator is regarded as a collection keeper who can also do some research, at others they are rather researchers and have only infrequent contact with collections.

Keywords


museum; collection keeper; curator; researcher; new museology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/jef-2018-0014

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ISSN (print) 1736-6518. ISSN (online) 2228-0987. JEF is a joint publication of the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum.