Continuity and change in popular music curation
Exhibiting the musical past in Liverpool
Keywords:curation, exhibitions, museums, popular music, social history
How is popular music curated and how has this practice developed over time? What distinguishes it and what can focusing on curation reveal about popular music history? This article addresses these questions with the help of three exhibitions exploring aspects of the popular music past. Staged in Liverpool between 1991 and 2016, the exhibitions illustrate the work and effort of exhibiting and curating popular music, and developments and changes in this work across a 25-year period. Perspectives on popular music as a curatorial object have certainly changed. Moreover, beyond the traditional association of curation with the professional domain of museums and other institutions, a broader understanding has emerged of curation as a vernacular practice. What the exhibitions also show, however, is that these developments cannot be mapped chronologically. Rather, different perspectives and approaches regarding popular music curation continually circulate, clash and intersect. This, it is argued, creates certain fundamental tensions that make curation a productive lens through which to examine popular music history.
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