Paul McNamara / Staff Writer –

As we enter an era when content leads the marketing efforts of brands and drives traffic to publishers, the idea of curation will be many marketer’s most coveted skill. As John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka said, “If content is king, conversation is queen.”

Curation, a word that has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years after its meaning was appropriated by the internet world, still has a lot to teach us. But rather than riffing on its assumpted meaning, let’s look at the real practitioners of curation – art curators themselves.

Here in New York, that curation is on display in innovative ways. “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” on view at the New Museum through May 26 offers a new take on the craft of curation: providing a time capsule into the art, pop culture, and politics of a time when Ross and Rachel were still “a thing,” and Salt ‘n’ Pepper topped the charts.


The show was everything 1993:  Bosnian conflict, impeachment, gay rights, AIDS, violence against women, technology, youth culture, and the first blog post ever.

For those in the marketing space, it was a lesson in point of view. Good curation is about creating a unified mood from non-unified pieces.

“NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star” derives it’s unique point of view and generates interest through insightful curation.

The museum kicked off it’s new exhibit with a press preview a few weeks ago, which is when I saw the stunning, emotionally intense retrospective of a year’s art in one city. Curating by year yields a show with a marked contrast to those sorted by theme or school of thought. Pieces by superstars such as Annie Liebowitz and Felix Gonzalez-Torres hung next to previously undiscovered works from equally undiscovered artists. The collection pulls it’s name from a Sonic Youth album that curator Massimiliano Giani explained embodied the thrust of the time.


So what can content marketers learn from the way museum curators select from a vast wealth of online content? Here are three tools to add to your curator toolbelt.

1. Do the work for your audience

Curators achieved the harmonious whole of “NYC 1993” by understanding what each piece meant in terms of establishing the feel of the exhibit – I didn’t know exactly why each piece belonged in the show, I just knew that I was enjoying it. The exhibit showcased a mix of media that seemed to flow together, even if they shared zero physical resemblance.

The chairs emblazoned with sex toys sat adjacent to a video clip of William Kennedy Smith at his 1993 trial while an utterly stunning audio loop of artist Kristin Oppenheim reworking the Beach Boys played overhead.

The best curated content does this, too. Brand values should shine through a mix of seemingly unrelated content platforms, delivery methods and media.

2. Use multiple perspectives

During the year examined (1993), some of the curators were active in the art world, but others were in elementary school thousands of miles away. Each perspective added depth and breadth to the show.

Remember, a “brand” can be thought of as what comes to mind when people think about you. Don’t limit your offerings, but be mindful of how your content is perceived from many different perspectives and come at content with an open mind for how it can strengthen your message.

3. Be an expert

Curators know their stuff. It was clear that a lot of thought went into producing “NYC 1993” – with Whitney-caliber work hanging in close proximity to unknowns. They took it upon themselves to know the year 1993 in and out.

That’s the attitude to have towards your brand and your industry. Know everything. Be the expert. The more you know about your brand and your market the more you’ll be able to share. And the more you’re sharing the right stuff, the more they’ll consume.



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