Ask A Curator with Nishi

Last month, our curatorial team participated in the global event, #AskaCurator. In case you missed it, here's our Exhibitions Manager and Assistant Curator, Nishi, answering some of your questions.

How have you done your job during the pandemic?

Thankfully, much of my job can be done in front of a computer, so I was able to work from home on my laptop. When it came time to install our latest exhibition, The Great Divide, in July, I was onsite with an extremely limited group of people. We were able to install the show safely with strict protocols in place, and the project has turned out to be a great success.

What is your museum doing to diversity your collection?

This is such an important question. We are carefully reviewing what gaps we have in our existing collection and dedicating funds to finding artefacts that represent histories and stories that we may have not collected in the past. We have also begun building relationships with individuals who are well versed in footwear fashion, as well as diversity and inclusion. These allies are helping us find footwear and designers whose work would be a great addition to the museum. This is really important work and we are committed to diversifying what it is that we collect and display.

Got any advice for someone who wants to become a curator?

You have to be flexible. You might have an academic speciality but the institution that you work in might require you to curate exhibitions on unrelated topics. Having excellent research and writing skills will be an asset no matter what type of exhibition you end up curating.

Do you have any objects that you don’t know anything about?

Absolutely! We have a collection of over 14 000 artefacts from all around the world and it is impossible to know everything about ever pair of shoes. This is one of the reasons why it is so exciting to work with this collection – there are so many opportunities for research and we are always learning something new.

What dream object is missing from your collection?

I would love to add a pair of shoes from Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Christian Louboutin’s 2017 collaboration. They are both prolific designers and used a mix of cultural influences to create a beautiful line of men’s and women’s footwear. I have been searching for these for awhile so if anyone has any tips on how to locate them, please let us know!

What jobs other than ‘curator’ can someone do in a museum?

There are numerous jobs in the museum! You could work in education, public relations and media, administration, collections and conservation, and visitor’s services.

What’s the biggest misconception about curators?

One of the biggest misconceptions about curators is that when we are selecting artefacts for an exhibition, our choices are made based on aesthetics. While many curators do consider which objects ‘go together,’ there are numerous factors which impact how we pick artefacts. The most important factor is how well these objects tell the desired stories.

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