Ask a Curator

Ever wonder about the history of a piece of art, the genesis of an exhibition, or how on earth we got our giant Richard Serra sculpture into BCAM? Here’s an opportunity to have your burning art questions answered—submit queries to us via comment or tweet and, for our upcoming Ask A Curator series, we’ll select a few for LACMA’s experts to answer.

10 Responses to Ask a Curator

  1. Dan says:

    I visited LACMA a few weeks ago and yes, I am curious as to how you got the large geometric sculpture inside the building.

  2. Al says:

    How does one begin a career as curator? Do you go to school for it, or can you work your way up the museum hierarchy?

  3. Ian says:

    To what extent do curators feel pressure to make a show that will impress other curators? Is there a sort of unspoken competition to put together exhibitions that will outdo or one-up other museums?

  4. sophieM says:

    What triggers curators to do an exhibition on an artist? Is it who’s hot in the art market? Or is it popularity (Picasso, Impressionism are the usual suspects)? I’ve been wanting to see a Ken Price Retrospective, what do I do to get the curators to listen.

  5. Lori says:

    When will the Chinese collection reopen? Thank you.

  6. Fifine Brightman says:

    I sent an email 2 weeks ago about a rather curious exhibit I saw during the Memorial Day weekend. This exhibit was on the same floor as the Asian Textiles exhibit. I will try to describe exactly where I saw the item so that someone can look at it. There is a case in the middle of the floor. If you stand with your back to that case, you will be able to look into the Asian Textile “room” from it. Anyway the case in question contains a ceremonial bone dagger. I’m not sure where it is from. (I say Sumatra, my friend says she thinks it’s from Nepal).

    The curious thing is that around the rim of the hilt of this dagger there are tiny circles. Within each circle are two tiny dots. Beneath the two dots is a half circle. These designs look very much like today’s modern smiley face symbol. I researched the symbol and could only trace it back to 1963 and some guy named Harvey Ball. Apparently, the symbol is much older than that, as shown by your exhibit (or someone has played a joke on the museum). Either way, this has been a burning question for me ever since I saw the exhibit. I work with scientists from LANL, Berkley, Sandia, and other places. No one can tell me much about the symbol. I have looked in sign dictionaries as well and can find nothing older than the 1960’s.

    Please let me know what you have found.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “I am curious why you are selling off important historical pieces from your European collection, and why the emphasis has shifted weightily to contemporary art?”

  8. Will you ever bring back THE GARAGE? Here you have an object which the public liked. Here you have an object which was always visited by the artist who might rearrange things. My 27 year old grandchild left her name in the garage. I left pennies. It’s too an exciting a work to be kept in storage.

  9. When will you bring The Garage. Here you have an object which the public loved. My 27 year old granddaughter left her name on a hook when she was 6. I left pennies. You you have McMillan, still living, who frequently visited and rearranged pieces in The Garage. It’s part of American Art History.

  10. cb says:


    Just curious, beyond general generic exhibit booklets is there a “bible” per say of exciting, dangerous, edgy or dramatic exhibition layouts?

    (per the European comment above) Get over it! pieces move in & out of collections through natural accessioning & deaccessioning. It’s nice to have a steady collection, but most of the works in collections/ in storage are rarely seen. It is always nice to get a new work into your collection whether it be modern or European.

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