A curator is an individual hired by a museum or gallery to oversee and care for a collection of artworks or artefacts.
Museums and galleries typically employ multiple curators responsible for acquiring, maintaining, and enhancing their collections. These curators also organise exhibitions featuring both items from the collection and loaned works, with the aim of enlightening, educating, and inspiring the public.
Over the last two decades, the role of a curator has undergone significant changes. There are now freelance or independent curators who operate without institutional affiliations and bring their unique, unconventional methods to exhibition curation. These curators are invited to curate exhibitions or propose their own ideas for a variety of venues, spanning from traditional gallery spaces to unconventional settings and even online platforms.
Swiss curator Harald Szeemann, who served as the director of the Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2001, stands as a prominent example of an independent curator. Similarly, the artist and curator Matthew Higgs is recognized for his budget-friendly, do-it-yourself exhibitions, such as the unconventional art exhibition ‘Imprint’, which was distributed to people rather than being displayed in a traditional gallery space.