SEVERAL REMARKS ON THE CURATOR - DETECTIVE
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Work performed at a museum is one of the few professions to become surrounded with stereotypes and to remain enigmatic and unsatisfactorily defined. Naturally, it is difficult to define occupations performed by holders of a great variety of posts, as is the case in even the smallest museum. The author would like to focus on a group of museum staffmembers dealing directly with the collections and held responsible for the entrusted and often invaluable exhibits, as well as on the perception of the museum as such. It is he work of the museum employees that makes it possible to realize almost all the tasks tackled by the museum, determined both by ICOM and the Polish Law on museums. Regardless whether they are curators or only assistants, their tasks are directly connected with museum collections and the range of their responsibility is immense. In practice, the work carried out by a curator encompasses: the upkeep of the contents of storerooms from the viewpoint of the state of preservation, assessments and pertinent decisions concerning exhibits to be acquired, opinions, rather rare in Polish museums, about de-access proposals, the setting up of exhibitions, views about proposals to lend exhibits outside the museum, inventory books and scientific catalogues. Seven chapters of Professor Stanisław Waltos’ Na tropach doktora Fausta i inne szkice, published several years ago, describe exhibits in the collections of the Museum of the Jagiellonian University Museumin Collegium Maius. Here, the stereotype view of the work carried out by the museum curator as a boring, monotonous, and un exciting existence amidst old curiosities, the keeping of records, and the organization of an occasional exhibition, assumes the entirely different shape of a fascinating adventure with the past, activity resembling museum-style X Files, the difference being that this time the heart of the matter is not UFOs but facts, forgotten and lost in the past but sill existent and discoverable under the condition of implementing detective techniques, obstinacy and ... authentic involvement, the result of the curator’s sincere interest. This is the reason why the author of the article took the liberty of calling the curator a detective.
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