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The Curator

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“You should be in a museum.” 5x06 - Vampires in Venice

museum (n.)


1610s, "the university building in Alexandria," from Latin museum "library, study," from Greek mouseion "place of study, library or museum, school of art or poetry," originally "a seat or shrine of the Muses," from Mousa "Muse" (see muse (n.)). Earliest use in reference to English institutions was of libraries (e.g. the British Museum); sense of "building to display objects" first recorded 1680s. (Source: etymonline)

As a prologue to Eleven’s era, Silence in The Library/Forest of the dead displays a library that is really a live museum: 4022 people saved at the beginning, River Song and her team’s conscience at the end (River becomes literally a libraria, a “female librarian, copyist”, but also a “library”, in latin).

Throughout Eleven’s tenure, museums are used to preserve: River’s message to the Doctor in Time of the Angels, Amy and the Daleks in The Big Bang. Vincent and the Doctor’s and The Day of the Doctor’s museums can be seen as doors, through paintings: to the locked past, to the artist’s psyche. In the end, the purpose is to preserve Gallifrey and the painter’s sanity –and on the side, Rory’s memory.

The latter episodes present a side of preserving that can work as a metaphor to History and rewriting it, a concept essential to Eleven’s era: Vincent of the Doctor is about a failure to undo what has happened, but time was changed, as the tiniest touches in the paintings show. Time can be rewritten. Later, the Day of the Doctor shows a successful rewriting; this time the lack of changes in the piece presented –Gallifrey falls no more- working as a protection of said change. History cannot always be rewritten.

Considering the amount of rewriting and erasing the Doctor has been committing for the past three series, this is a concept he needed to understand to become what he said he wanted to be: a curator.

Of a museum, he and we assume.

But could the Doctor ever learn a lesson, to become a preserver, rather than a writer? One cannot rewrite History. Or rather, he cannot rewrite History. Amy, Clara, River have been doing it for long. And he rewrites them, a little. It’s always about people in the end. Curare in latin means “to take care of, to watch after, to treat”, even if the administrative meaning exists. Twelve year old in the heart, he would not accept an appointment. But he could accept people.

When the clock strikes twelve, as a consequence, the paintings and items the Doctor is looking after are toys and drawings, courtesy of the village children who look up to him. Curator of hearts? A librarius in Saint Jerome’s Epistulae means an “elementary teacher”. As if from his prologue, his last page was written. Except as River’s became a copyist and librarian, he became a teacher and curator of a museum of young objects –fanarts even-, telling his philosophy and stories, guardian of a temple dedicated to art and creation –and himself.

Back to the start, to the Muses temple.