International Journal of Art & Design Education

Engaging with Curating

Volume 24.2   2005



This paper is informed by a DfES funded research project, Creative Connections, initiated and directed by the Institute of Education (IoE) and Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) as part of the DfES Museums and Galleries Education Programme 1999–2003. The concern is to focus on an unexpected finding concerning art and design teachers’ negligible engagement with, and understanding of, curatorial issues and practices. This is set against a backdrop of the recent proliferation of literature addressing curatorial matters. The etymology and genealogy of the curator are discussed in order to establish the curatorial role as a symbolic (modernist) location where discourses pertaining to post-structuralism, postmodernism, post-colonialism and critical pedagogy currently coincide. By highlighting some of the main concerns that art and design teachers experience when taking pupils to galleries and museums, I suggest that engaging with curating has the potential not only to facilitate critical engagement with galleries and museums but also to empower and inform teachers’ use of these venues as learning resources. Through references to the research questionnaire findings, focus group interviews and evaluations of pilot CPD initiatives, a case for more teacher engagement and understanding of the frameworks in which art and artefacts are encountered is argued. First, as an important dimension for learning and teaching about art and design, and second, to counteract the generally uncritical and compliant approach to using galleries and museums that can result from a lack of opportunity to engage with cultural concerns.