I frequently hear the terms "curated" and "juried" mixed up or misused, used interchangeably for the other when the terms are distinctly different.
Do you know, "What's the Difference between 'curated' and 'juried'?"
Yes, both curators and jurors select work, but there is a BIG difference.
A CURATED EXHIBITION
A curated exhibition means the "curator" is responsible for selecting the theme, conceptual focus, title, AND work. The curator has significant, if not authoritative input from start to finish, from selecting the theme, finding artwork that supports the curator's interpretation of the theme, along with input into the exhibition installation and catalog.
Curator James David Draper
Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of
Art Department of European Sculpture
and Decorative Arts looking at an angel
sculpture attributed to Michelangelo.
Photo from NY Daily News
A well-curated show is a finely tuned cohesive selection of work to support the premise of the curator. The act of selecting the work reveals the curator's creativity and intellectual process. A well-curated exhibition is a masterpiece. This is why great curators are so highly regarded.
A curated exhibition may or may not extend a "call for entries." Usually, each curator considers him or herself as expertly informed about the artwork they want to include in an exhibition. Research on the curated theme is part of the curator's process. On the other hand, occasionally a curator may extend a call for submissions to explore or find images of new work that may be as yet unknown.
A JURIED EXHIBITION
In contrast, a juried show always has a call for entries.
The exhibition sponsor chooses the theme of the exhibition, extends a call for submissions, and invites jurors to select only from submissions what they feel best represents the theme or premise of the show.
A juried exhibition has one or more jurors select the work (and the exhibition sponsor seldom participates in the selection of work).
Usually, the jurors do not see the names of the artists. Since the selection of work is limited to the work submitted for juried review, the outcome is unpredictable and may not support the theme in a cohesive manner.
Sure, the jurors can select anything from the pool of work submitted, but the jurors can not invite artists to submit specific works. If they have a preconceived idea about the theme, and work is not submitted to support a particular train of thought, there is nothing a juror can do. This relative lack of control over the selection of work can produce an unpredictable or inconsistent show or a delightful surprise.
After the work is selected by the juror(s), usually the juror's role is finished.
A curator is often responsible for an entire show from beginning to end, including, but not limited to, selecting the theme, artwork, writing wall text, labels for the work, catalog essay and perhaps working with staff or exhibition designers on the installation.
In comparison, jurors are only responsible for selecting work.
Understand the difference between curated and juried on your resume and in professional situations.
This post was updated on February 11, 2022.