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Thursday Thought: Curatorial Poetry

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

I just added Curatorial Poetry (@curatorialpoems) to my Twitter feed. Highly recommend. Here is an essay by Micah Walter (@micahwalter) on Medium that explains why and how he created this feed.  

The “curatorial poet” is a Tweetbot that randomly selects objects from the the Cooper Hewitt catalog records, and tweets the description field. 

Micah wrote the code during a coffee break one morning.


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I love @curatorialpoems because it is a perfect metaphor for the serendipitous beauty I find in museums.

With all the work we put into creating the perfect experience, writing the perfect label, sometimes the most beautiful experiences are unintended.

Like the time I accidentally entered an exhibit at the Cantor Art Centers through a back door, and had the magical experience of puzzling out what the (unlabeled) exhibit was about. When I exited via the entrance, I found the introductory wall text that would have entirely spoiled the surprise.

Or the time I saw a (live) roach trundling about on a case of fossil insects, including a prehistoric cockroach, leading me to meditate on time, evolution, and persistence. (Also integrated pest management, but that thought was less uplifting.)

Or how, on a recent visit to LACMA, I was blown away by the light and shadows in the Art of the Americas gallery. 

We can’t control everything. It’s important to remember that’s not only ok, its part of the magic of what we do. Beauty can arise spontaneously from any mass of content. Even catalog records.

So read what Micah says in his essay about the importance of messing about, silly thinking and trying “little projects.” As he observes, “every once in a while they become real.” And beautiful. 

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