Art, Behind the Scenes

Talk to the World’s Art Experts Online during Ask-a-Curator Day, September 18

Getty curators are ready to answer your questions, starting bright and early at 8am Wednesday morning

Get your curiosity ready! Wednesday marks the fourth annual Ask-a-Curator Day, in which you are invited to pose any question to museum curators worldwide. Whether you want to know the untold story of your favorite painting or indulge your passion for shoes and canoes, somewhere in the world there’s a curator at a keyboard who knows the answer.

Bryan Keene / #AskaCurator

Manuscripts curator Bryan Keene is ready for your #AskaCurator questions!

With 500+ participants from 30+ countries, including libraries, historic houses, and museums of every stripe, Ask-A-Curator Day will actually go on a full 46 hours this year, kicking off in New Zealand (they get up very early there) and working its way around the globe to end with us night owls on the Pacific Coast.

Meet the Getty’s Curators

Representing 2,500 years of art history, nine of our curators at the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute will be available throughout the day (times listed are in Pacific Daylight Time):

8–9am | Bryan Keene, Manuscripts
Knows all about: Renaissance manuscripts, paintings, and gardens.
Currently fascinated with: Europe and India during the global Middle Ages.

9–10am | Christine Sciacca, Manuscripts
Knows all about: Illuminated manuscripts, especially from Italy, Germany, and Ethiopia, and the interaction between textiles and manuscripts.
Currently fascinated with: Food and gift-giving in the Middle Ages.

10–11am | Bryan Keene, Manuscripts
Knows all about: Renaissance manuscripts, paintings, and gardens.
Currently fascinated with: Europe and India during the global Middle Ages.

11am–noon | Frances Terpak, Photographs
Knows all about: Early modern optical devices; 19th-century photography in China, Algeria, Persia, and the Ottoman empire.
Currently fascinated with: Robert Mapplethorpe and Lewis Baltz.

noon–1pm | Mary Louise Hart, Antiquities
Knows all about: Ancient Greek plays and performance, especially Prometheus.
Currently fascinated with: An exhibition of Byzantine art for the Villa with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

1–2pm | Arpad Kovacs, Photographs
Knows all about: 20th-century American photography and contemporary photography.
Currently fascinated with: Hiroshi Sugimoto and photographs of animals.

2–3pm | Julian Brooks, Drawings
Knows all about: Italian Renaissance drawings; British watercolors
Currently fascinated with: Renaissance studio techniques; Andrea del Sarto; J.M.W. Turner; the effects of coffee and chocolate on the art-historical brain.

3–4pm | Charissa Bremer-David, Sculpture & Decorative Arts
Knows all about: 17th- and 18th-century French decorative arts, from woodwork and textiles to ceramics and metalwork.
Currently fascinated with: Culinary ornament on silver serving vessels and classical iconography in tapestries.

4–5pm: Scott Allan, Paintings
Knows all about: 19th-century French painting, from Millet to Monet, Gérôme to Gauguin.
Currently fascinated with: Théodore Rousseau and James Ensor.

5–6pm: David Saunders, Antiquities
Knows all about: Greek vase-painting and ancient bronzes.
Currently fascinated with: The Cyrus Cylinder and ancient Persia; the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

How to Ask a Curator

Simply tweet your question with the hashtag #askacurator. To direct your question to us at the Getty—whether about our collection, exhibitions, or the diverse range of interests listed above—also include @gettymuseum in your tweet.

Here in L.A., our friends @LACMA, SMMOA, and @Hammer_Museum, and @PacAsiaMuseum are all on deck. For the full list, see this Argentina-to-Wales rundown of all participating museums and their specialties.

Not on Twitter? Leave a comment here or on the Museum’s Facebook page. You can even participate if you don’t have a question of your own—follow the conversation via the hashtag #askacurator.

See the Questions and Answers

Asked and answered—scan our Storify archive from September 18.

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  1. Rachelle Zukerman
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I am in training to be a docent at LACMA. The first object that I am studying is Kurt Schwitters’ “Construction for Noble Ladies.” Do you know any fact about this 1919 collage or the German artist that I can use to Impress my trainer? I will give the credit to you of course!

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted September 19, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Hi Rachelle, Congratulations on being a docent-to-be at LACMA! The Kurt Schwitters collage is a fabulous artwork (and a complex one). At the Getty we have a few Schwitters materials, including some photographic prints at the Museum and some ephemera and correspondence at the Research Institute (plus many book in the Research Library), but not a resident expert whom I’d turn to to shed light on this particular work. LACMA’s Stephanie Barron and Tim Benson would be your own local experts!

      With that in mind, I’ve passed on your query to a colleague at LACMA and hope to glean some tips for you. —Annelisa / Iris editor

3 Trackbacks

  • […] America: American History Museums – Smithsonian The Getty […]

  • […] Paul Getty Museum/Trust: Another rotating lineup. Don’t miss Getty Research Institute photography curator Frances Terpak (who recently helped […]

  • […] 11:00am–12:00pm — Bryan Keene on Manuscripts, particularly Renaissance and Medieval 12:00–1:00pm — Christine Sciacca, Manuscripts, particularly illuminated 1:00–2:00pm — Bryan Keene, Manuscripts 2:00–3:00pm — Frances Terpak, Photographs 3:00–4:00pm — Mary Louise Hart, Antiquities 4:00–5:00pm — Arpad Kovacs, Photographs 5:00–6:00pm — Julian Brooks, Drawings 6:00–7:00pm — Charissa Bremer-David, Sculpture & Decorative Arts, particularly 17th- and 18th-century French decorative arts 7:00–8:00pm — Scott Allan, Paintings, particularly 19th French painting 8:00–9:00pm — David Saunders, Antiquities more details […]

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      William Pope.L

      Tell us a bit about how and why you became an artist.

      I used to blame my being an artist on my grandmother, but that was my younger self looking for a scapegoat. At one point in undergrad, I had a moment, a crisis where I thought it was my job to save my family and the best way to that was to be a commercial artist—but I had to let go of that. Truth be told, being an artist is something I choose every day. Of course, maybe I choose art because I’m afraid of theater—too much memorizing and being in the moment and shit.

      A lot of your work deals with racial issues—perceptions of “blackness,” “whiteness,” the absurdity of racial prejudices, the violence of it. Why do you address race in your work? Do you think art can be an agent of change?

      I address race in my work ‘cause day-to-day in our country it addresses me. Yes, art can change the world but so can Disney—so there is that. I think the real question is not can art change the world, but can art be changed by the world? Would we allow this?

      Humor, with a touch of the absurd, seems to be an important component in your artistic practice. What role does humor play in your work?

      I like to use humor in my work ‘cause it answers/deals with questions in ways that are very unique. Humor answers questions with an immediacy and creates a productive amnesia of the moment in the receiver—but then the wave recedes, the world floods back in with its pain, confusions, and crush but the humor remains like a perfume or an echo or a kiss inside beneath one’s skin.

      More: Artist William Pope.L on Humor, Race, and God

      From top: Obi Sunt (Production Image from the making of Obi Sunt), 2015, William Pope.L. Courtesy of the Artist © Pope.L; Gans-Nelson fight, from the album ‘Incident to the Gans-Nelson fight’ (Page 40-3), Goldfield, NV, September 3, 1906, William Pope.L. Courtesy of Steve Turner and the Artist; Tour People, 2005, William Pope.L. Courtesy of the Artist © Pope.L; Failure Drawing #301, NYU/Napkin, Rocket Crash, William Pope.L. Courtesy of the Artist © Pope.L.


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