It is not what you expect it to be

What would be your first guess if someone asked you how museum curators work? Personally, I would say that they do managerial tasks, deal with museum suppliers, come up with themes of exhibitions, set them up and hold them. Wrong! Well, not completely wrong. At least according to what curators of Tromsø museum, John Hansen and Julia Holme Dammann, do.

Author: Alyona Antipina, Proofread by Nikolai Shulgin

Frankly speaking, I expected more than ten people to show up for the lecture, so if an event is planned to take place on Sunday afternoon, simply do not expect many to come. Most of the visitors were elderly people who seemed familiar to both lecturers, which is not that surprising.

Let’s not linger over my criticism of the event time and rather get back to the topic. I already knew a lot about the duties of curators, such as taking care and knowing how to use dozens of different chemicals and special machines for restoration and maintenance purposes, and so on.  Did you actually know that before a certain item gets to the lab, it has to be thoroughly packed in plastic (with the soil the item has been found in), covered in gypsum and only then carefully transported to museum labs? And yes, museum objects must be treated accordingly afterwards as well because some of the findings date back even to 1659… Moreover, these findings travel around the world! Many items traveled thousands of kilometers either by plane or ship before arriving to Scandinavian House in New York, for example. So in order to maintain the items in their present form, it must be made sure that they are transported carefully. More than that, did you also know that it takes some time before one can proceed to the process of restoration and evaluation of a certain item? It can even take up to several months!

A museum curator also participates in excavations, transportation and other processes related to exhibitions. That’s what this work is mostly about – not just management, but also being present at every step in exhibition development and ‘’staying in touch’’ with history.

A museum curator’s job is very similar to the treasure hunter’s one. While for the latter it eventually becomes routine, it is not the case for a curator at all – it is, in fact, an exciting everyday experience.