“Curating the Intangible Through Public Programs”
December 2006 – 2007
Dr. Robert Baron is devoting his Smithsonian Fellowship in Museum Practice to researching what curation means within museums with regard to both the curation of objects and the curation of intangible dimensions of culture through public programs.
“Curator,” long viewed primarily as a term for those charged with exhibiting, researching, maintaining and managing museum collections, has in recent years been applied expansively (and often loosely) to a wide range of endeavors both within and outside of museums. Nowadays, within museums, there are curators of public programs, education and film in museums in addition to curators responsible for collections of objects. He asks: “If curation is no longer seen as associated exclusively with objects, what does – and should - “curating” now entail?”
Dr. Baron’s project will contribute to an understanding of what public programming means as curatorial practice, and the professional standards and practices characteristic of this aspect of museum education. He plans to share his findings through publications, conference sessions, and lectures with the museum and folklore fields, and he expects his research will inform his assistance to the constituents of the funding program he directs.
Dr. Baron is Director, Folk Arts Program, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and a Non-Resident Fellow in the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research of Harvard University. The Folk Arts Program at NYSCA provides support for the documentation, presentation and interpretation of folk arts by museums, local arts councils and folk arts organizations. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree with an Anthropology major from the University of Chicago.