“Anyone can curate, not everyone is a curator…”

I was reminded of our conversation with Sandra Jackson Dumont about the widespread adoption of the term/activity of “curating” in the age of Pinterest etc. when I came across this app designed by the Phillips Collection to coincide with their current exhibition, “Made in the USA: American Masters from the Phillips Collection 1850-1970.”



It essentially allows anyone to select and rearrange the works in the exhibition within the digitally simulated layout of the Phillip Collection galleries (you can even choose your own wall color), then share the results on their website and/or your own social media platforms.

“uCurate allows visitors to design their version of ‘Made in the USA’ and…create deeply personal displays of works that spark visual conversations,” said Susan Behrends Frank, the exhibition curator, in a statement. “By making this technology available through a mobile app, the Phillips aims to increase our audience engagement, making interaction with the museum’s American masterworks more accessible.”

I’d be curious to hear your reactions to an app like this. Does this undermine the role of the museum curator? Personally, I’m excited to play around with it!

2 thoughts on ““Anyone can curate, not everyone is a curator…”

  1. pearsonsteph

    Oh how fun. Reminds me of painting my bedroom four different colors when I was in middle school! In all seriousness, though, this seems like a good hook. As Sri said in the article that Daria posted, visitors want to look behind the scenes — and this is one way to give that impression (however accurate!).

  2. fonerdaria

    Thank you for drawing this to our attention! I found it quite fun to play around–especially when the camera is set to “look down from above,” I had the sensation of peering into an exhibition maquette. Interesting that the way in which the user chooses the works of art is through pre-determined “themes” (e.g. Memory and Identity, Exotic Places), which seems to invite a more narrative approach to the works’ arrangement.

    I would be interested to know how many visitors to the exhibition engage with this platform, as well as what exactly the interactive gallery that also uses uCurate within the physical space of the exhibition.

    (Also amusing to consider what a conservator’s reaction to the app would be as it completely ignores that end of installations!)


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