Curating Cultural Artefacts: Creating Appreciative Context
In this paper I examine how curating plays a role in the way cultural artefacts acquire meaning. I present, first, an ontological account of what curating is. Secondly, I sketch how curators create an appreciative context for the items on display and how this affects our perception and evaluation of the aesthetic and non-aesthetic properties of a work, and thus shapes our understanding and evaluation. With the aid of a few case-studies I will show how, by the appreciative context they create, curators have occasionally made grave errors in presenting cultural artefacts, by decontextualizing them or imposing inappropriate meanings on them. In contrast, I will also discuss some positive ways in which curators have presented cultural artefacts in an appreciative context that guides the audience towards a correct and valuable interpretation.