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Ask a Curator day returns on September 16th 2020

Ask a Curator Day started in 2010 in an effort to harness Twitter’s networking power to drum up some direct engagement with curators across the globe. The idea was that a curious public would be able to question the keepers of cultural heritage about the objects in their care and what it is they do with them.

The event became an instant hit with museums around the world fielding questions from their audiences, and trended number one on Twitter worldwide.

Over the past decade the event has grown under the watchful eye of Mar Dixon and it’s grown from being something that just takes place on Twitter to also encompass Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

On September 16th 2020, Ask a Curator will return and we’re hoping that museums around the globe will once again get their curators and other experts to answer questions from the public.

Any Museum, Gallery or Heritage site can get involved with Ask a Curator. But if you don’t fit into one of those categories, you’re still welcome to participate. In previous years we’ve had questions answered by people working in Zoos, Aquariums, Libraries and more.

You also don’t need to be a curator to answer questions. The public think that people who work in museums are all curators, but obviously you can put questions to whoever you feel is best placed to answer.

From New Zealand to Hawaii, Ask a Curator spans the globe with cultural and heritage organisations answering questions from members of the public. How your institution gets involved is very much up to you. Many run Ask a Curator on Twitter asking their followers to send them questions, others prefer to participate on Facebook or Instagram.

Some people will send you questions directly, but you can also search the hashtag #AskaCurator for questions anyone can answer. How your institution participates is up to you.

Some questions from previous years include:

What does your typical day look like?
What’s the weirdest object in your collection?
What do you love about your job?
What’s your favourite object?
Have you ever broken an object What’s your most valuable object?
What’s your oldest object?
How have you done your job during the pandemic?
If you could add any object to your collection, what would it be?
Which artist alive or dead, who would you like to meet?
Who is your favourite artist?
Who is your favourite scientist?
Who is your favourite figure from history?
Is your museum haunted?
How do you get a job in a museum?
What is your museum doing to diversity your collection?
What’s a surprising fact about your museum?
What’s your favourite museum to visit other than your own?
Do you collect anything yourself?
What’s the difference between a curator and a conservator?
What’s on a Curators playlist?
How can I get my art in a museum?
What’s in a curators bag?
Which object would you like to see come to life?
What item would you most like to take home and why?
Do you have any cats in your collection?
If you could only save one object from a fire, what would it be?
Why are museums important?
What’s your largest object?
If you could live at any time, what year would you choose?
What’s the role of a museum in 2020?
What’s the strangest thing to ever happen in your museum?
Why did you become a curator?
What part of your job has surprised you?
Which object would you use to explain humanity to Aliens?
Got any advice for someone who wants to become a curator?
How are you making your museum relevant to young people?

This should give you some idea of the broad range of questions that you can expect from Ask a Curator (you’ll find more questions in this Ask a Curator PDF).

The event takes place on September 16th, but you can get started now by letting your followers / fans know that you intend to participate and by booking time in with those best placed to answer questions.

You might want to prepare some content before 16th Sept, for example you could ask a curator to film answers to some of the questions on the previous page. You can download a design pack with graphics to use both on the day and to promote your participation here.

If you’ve not yet told us that you wish to take part, you can let us know using this form. This just makes it easier for us to give people updates and communicate the scale of the project to press. We look forward to having you be part of what promises to be another very successful Ask a Curator.

About the author – Jim Richardson

Jim Richardson is the founder of MuseumNext. He has worked with the museum sector on digital and innovation projects for more than twenty years and now splits his time between delivering consultancy, innovation workshops and keynote presentations.

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