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Material Culture

Curatorial Research Centre a year on

I just wanted to mark the anniversary of founding the Curatorial Research Centre. Technically that happened on 22 October.

I created the idea out of a desire to take action on a set of broad but related systemic issues I had experienced and observed during my career so far–hierarchy, reputation, diversity, anti-intellectualism, shifts in values around material culture and collections. These issues don’t just affect the museum and higher education world where I am from, but also more widely.

Why curatorial research? Because I love being a curator and I love research, and I wanted a place to think and speak differently about it. I am trying to write a book on the philosophy and methodology underpinning how I now come to think about and practice curation but I must admit I am struggling to prioritise the time to do this. When you start a new business, it can be a bit overwhelming: the accountants, the admin, the ‘make sure you keep your company seal in a secure location’. I do sometimes think that many important things have missed the bus and still roam around in the 18th century.

What’s happened so far? Well, we’re still here and trading and very much in business. We are loving working with Cornwall Museums Partnership and seven Cornish museums to lead the Citizen Curators Programme. We really can’t see anything of this scale and ambition happening inter-institution anywhere else. We are nearly half way through a three-year programme thanks to the Museums Association’s Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. And of course, I am also studying closely the results, this is active research.

In January 2019, Tom Goskar joined me in the enterprise, bringing in particular his technical and digital experience to the range of services we offer. He is the CRC’s Archaeologist and Audiovisual Specialist. He’s been researching and testing the curatorial applications of such products as 3D digital models. Surely we can do more with them than spin them on a screen, and go, “cool!” His creative archaeological mind has brought a completely different dimension to my view on curating. Some of his point cloud and texture imagery are even being worked up into fabric designs.

We have a fabulous Swiss-design inspired logo and brand thanks to Paul Betowski of Design by Paul. I’ll just leave you with it.

Curatorial Research Centre logo