the difference between collecting curating

July 4, 2011

I enjoyed this post from Frank Chimero on the difference between collecting and curating.  Frank summarises many responses to his tweeted question

Thinking about collecting vs. curating, and how the internet is muddying the line between the two.


Collection is additive. Curation is subtractive. Collecting is for yourself, curating is for others.

and expands the thought to

I think the thing that separates the two is intent, not in the size of the pool of stuff or in the presence of an audience, but rather in the implied purpose of the gathering of content. To me, collecting is usually about propagation—the collection grows in quantity and diversity. Curating seems to be about illumination, and having that set of selected items, no matter the size, come to a point.

This makes a lot of sense to me – whether talking about objects or experiences.  In my own experience what’s left out is generally more illuminating than what’s included – very often we think long and hard about what or whom to exclude than we do those to include.  I often use the expression ‘to curate’ in reference to how we include/exclude, collect/discard experiences, relationships and objects as a way of highlighting the choices we make.  Many times those choices are unconscious as well as conscious but nevertheless the act of curation is enduring.


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