Not so long ago the word ‘curated’ belonged to bespectacled professors who spent their days sifting through crates of collectible objects. Now, liberated from its museum context, curation has become an essential part of every modern city experience. Experts and insiders are lining up to offer their finely tuned advice on everything wonderful to do around town, from discovering the best local craft ale in a back-alley bar to exploring behind the scenes at a world-famous gallery.
Boston has not only kept pace with this brave new curated world: it’s leading the way. If you arrive in town with a set of preferences, you’ll find someone who can tailor your stay to the way you’d most like to spend your time. We’ve rummaged around in the city’s most cultured quarters and put together this starter’s list of notable curators to set you on your way. Whether you’re a noodle-loving vinyl collector with an interest in Andy Warhol or a cheese-fixated sneakerhead with a thirst for craft cider, we’re sure you’ll discover exactly the Boston you’re looking for.
Private museum and gallery tours have been taken up several cultured notches by Art Smart which presents an eye-catching palette of options overseen by handpicked guides. From the “Harvard Art Museums” option to “Insta-Art” (an Instagram-based art hunt) at the MFA, Art Smart opens up the full scope of Boston’s much-loved art institutions.
There are many great reasons to build your curated cinema experience around the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square—and not the least among them is access to a limited edition “Suspiria” enamel pin to be worn proudly by fans of director Dario Argento. The real clincher is their supremely imaginative, ongoing repertory program.
There’s no shortage of food tours in Boston: some take you to ambrosial heights, others follow a trail of stale crumbs. One of the very best is Off the Beaten Path which specializes in the artisanal food-topias of Somerville and Cambridge.
Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette are superstars on the Boston food scene, and their tapas tour—aka the JK Food Group Crawl—is a gilded peach of foodie curation. A ticket ($150 plus tip) buys you a one-night sampling of their culinary genius at Toro, Coppa and Little Donkey, featuring signature delicacies.
Retail & Relaxation
The Seaport’s smart and perfectly formed new hotel, Yotel, has a pretty good handle on what its tech-savvy, citywise patrons really want— and their approach to curation involves a carefully chosen list of partners, grouped along themes (e.g. Valentine’s Day). Expect imaginative pop-ups and sharp entertainment on a weekly basis.
Curated footwear and sports apparel meets infinite coolness and a sweet sense of humor at Bodega, which hides its goodies behind a faux store front. What appears to be a ropey convenience store is actually a trove of expertly chosen street gear.
The very definition of a drink store has been reinvented at The Urban Grape in the South End. Curation here means one-on-one collaboration with owner TJ Douglas, monthly Urban Samplers (four well chosen wines for $50) and Progressive Shelving—a unique system of grouping wines by their body.
The notion of great care in selection implicit in curation (from the Latin word “cura” meaning “care”) reaches a state of culinary perfection in Somerville at Tasting Counter, a restaurant redefined as a “seasonally evolving taste encounter.” There are no reservations, just a pre-purchase ticket which covers everything—tasting menu, beverage pairings, service and tax.
If your idea of a perfect, curated meal involves an in-person introduction by one of the world’s greatest chefs, whose culinary empire stretches from New York to Singapore via Boston, then check out the events scheduled at Bar Boulud. Maestro-in-chief Daniel Boulud designs and oversees the occasional dinner here, and his arrivals in town should never be missed. (check website for details).
Several local restaurants have gone the extra mile when it comes to curation, and a special mention must be offered to Post 390 in the Back Bay. Earlier this year, executive chef Nick Deutmeyer and his team put together an outstanding “Cooking with Craft Beer Farm-to-Post Dinner.”