From Coping to Curious: Unlearning and Reimagining Curatorial Habits of Care

Reckitt, Helena. 2023. From Coping to Curious: Unlearning and Reimagining Curatorial Habits of Care. In: Elke Krasny and Lara Perry, eds. Curating with Care. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 169-182. ISBN 9781032069913 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This essay argues for the need for a shift in approaches to curatorial work, from one of ‘coping’ to ‘curiosity.’ Drawing on my experiences working in contemporary art institutions, I reflect on how I felt compelled to present an image of unflappable poise. While my relationships and affects were instrumentalised at work, it struck me that the only feelings I felt entitled to display were those that could be put to institutional use. Arguing against the perpetuation of the coping curator, who downplays systemic problems and suppresses her own feelings, I propose the less anxious, more collaborative, unguarded, and experimental figure of the curious curator. To support my argument, I foreground key curatorial and institutional initiatives, carried out in non-profit arts organisations in the UK, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe, that demonstrate a commitment to more equitable, caring, and emotionally rewarding ways of working.

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Curating with Care' on 15 March 2023, available online: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way."


Feminist Curating, Curatorial Labour, Feminised Labour, Care of the Self, Institutional Feeling, Institutional Psychology, Instituting Otherwise

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19 June 2022Accepted
15 March 2023Published

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29 Mar 2023 15:37

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30 Mar 2023 03:33


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