Ask A Curator becomes hottest global Twitter topic

By Culture24 Staff | 01 September 2010
A photo of a tall building against a bright blue sky
The Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, had helped Ask A Curator become the hottest topic on Twitter by 11am on Wednesday© Warrox
Keep an eye on Twitter today if you fancy seeing the patience of curators stretched to the limit.

At the last count, 343 museums and galleries across the world had signed up to the inaugural edition of Ask A Curator, which allows inquisitive Twitter users to pose questions to exhibition and collection planners.

By 11am this morning (Wednesday), it had become the number one "trend" - the most discussed topic on the networking site - in the world. In one half-hour period yesterday evening, more than 130 Tweets had already been posted using the campaign hashtag, #askacurator, as anticipation gathered pace.

“With Ask a Curator we are, on mass, taking Twitter out of the marketing department and putting it in the hands of curators,” organiser Jim Richardson told FastCompany, hoping to “plant a seed” in the minds of curators and the public and “change their expectations”.

“The inspiration is really a frustration I guess…in too many institutions social media is seen only as a marketing tool, and people like curators don't seem to be given the chance or want to use this kind of digital tool to engage with the public.”

A photo of the outside of an ancient brick building
The Museu Picasso in Barcelona© Sergio Cortés, Mayo de 2010
At the Museu Picasso, in Barcelona, officials said they were curious and “excited” about the scheme, and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum said experts Nienke Bakker and Leo Jansen would be “live on deck” for two hours from 3pm.

The Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, issued a faintly masochistic plea for onlookers to “bombard us with queries about rural life in East Anglia”, which the Institute of Contemporary Arts would probably find easier than answering one premature request for the inside track on which artist makes the best sandwich and their choice of spread.

In New Zealand, where time zones dictated Ask A Curator day had already started, nine venues including Hamilton’s Waikato Museum and the Fresh Gallery Otara in Manukau City (which, according to its latest Tweet, “*loves* selling art, talking art, hustling art, promoting art”) were steeling themselves, illustrating the global reach of a no-borders panel which also stars the likes of Massumeh Farhad, the Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museums of Asian Art in Washington DC.

Given the success of Richardson’s previous idea, the Follow A Museum day in February, the day is likely to be as popular as it is entertaining.

“The number of people following the participating venues ranges from a few hundred to more than 100,000,” he said.

“The project could potentially reach millions of people within a few retweets.”
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: