Do museum directors need curatorial experience?

Category: Leadership

What skills does it take to run a top museum? As many museums look towards increasing their outreach to new audiences and are facing challenges to their long-term financial sustainability, museum directors are increasingly being sought who can help museums advance in these areas.

This article features comments from two leading thinkers from London museums including Richard Hewison and Nicholas Penny.

Scholarship, like material culture, is priceless, but both need to be communicated to have true public value. Of course museums must have care for their collections, but they are held in public trust, and the public must be trusted to enjoy them. Fortunately, a new generation appears to understand that, and there are curators who have moved from passive preservation to active interpretation and creation. At last, to curate is becoming an active verb. Turn curators into communicators, and museum directors will look after themselves.

-Robert Hewison

 

The appointment of new directors at many of London's leading museums has provoked debate about what it takes to run a top institution. Are today's curators cut out for cultural leadership?

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