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These Five Essential Habits of Curators Will Make You a Smarter Marketer

by Rohit Bhargava  |  
February 11, 2015
  |  4,432 views

Note: This article is based in part on the book Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future.*

Nearly three years ago, the world learned the story of a retired postal worker who had quietly amassed one of the greatest collections of modern art in the world.

Herbert Vogel and his wife, Dorothy, were already legends in the world of art when Herbert passed away in 2012 at the age of 89. News stories the day after his death told the story of five large moving vans showing up at the Vogel's rent-controlled, one-bedroom New York apartment to pick up more than 5,000 pieces of art. The Vogel Collection, built over decades, would have a permanent home as part of the archives and collection at the National Gallery of Art.

The Vogels had always said the only thing they did was to buy and collect art they loved.

That passion often led them to find new young artists to support before the rest of the world discovered them. The Vogels ultimately became more than collectors. They were tastemakers. And their "fabled collection," as one critic later described it, which included art from hundreds of artists, including pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and post-minimalist Richard Tuttle, was the envy of museums around the world.


The same qualities that drive art patrons like the Vogels to follow their instincts and collect beautiful things are the ones that make great curators.

Museum curators organize collections into themes that tell stories. Individual curators create stories by collecting ideas or items they have a passion for. Either way, the goal of curation is always taking individual items and examples and weaving them together into a narrative.

In other words, curation adds meaning to isolated beautiful things.


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Rohit Bhargava is the best-selling author of five marketing books, including Likeonomics and the newly released Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future. The founder of consultancy Influential Marketing Group, Rohit is also a popular "non-obvious" keynote speaker and an adjunct professor of marketing at Georgetown University.

LinkedIn: Rohit Bhargava

Twitter: @rohitbhargava

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  • by Cendrine Marrouat Mon Feb 16, 2015 via web

    Hello Rohit,

    I have one word for you: brilliant!

    I love reading intelligent articles on curation. Yours is among the top 5 I have ever laid eyes on. I absolutely love how you use the word "fickle" too! That made me reflect on my habits as a curator. And it's exactly how you describe it. I remember some articles long after having curated them, and new ideas and trends start emerging in my head.

    You understand curation fully! Thank you!

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