There was a short piece on yesterday morning's Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that looked at the increasing ubiquity of the word curator, and how everyone that organises or displays anything these days is called a curator (Listen here; it's very near to the end of the programme, as about 2:51:52). The art critic David Balzer was talking about the phenomenon and his new book Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else. Independent curator Lauren Parker also appeared on the programme and said that, because the word curator is so widely used now, people in the art world are moving away from using the word and instead saying exhibition maker, cultural producer or story-teller.
Forms of the verb to curate are certainly in very wide use, particularly with reference to social media. A quick glance at Google News brings up the following headlines:
Twitter boss confirms plans to expand curated 'experiences' to all users (here)
Uber launches a curated meal-delivery service in New York and Chicago (here)
Instagram dives into curated content with a dedicated music account (here)
NFL Drafts Graham Elliot to Curate Food For Fan Fest in Chicago (here)
David Balzer noted that the word curator had never had a set meaning. It is true that the word has had different meanings over its history. The first definition in the OED is "A person appointed as guardian of the affairs of someone legally unfit to conduct them him- or herself, such as a minor, an insane person, etc.". The Dictionary notes that in Roman law curator was used to refer to the guardian of a minor, and is still used in Scots law eg curator ad litem (the equivalent in English law is guardian ad litem) and curator bonis. Another early definition is "one who has the cure of souls" (cf the noun curate, ie vicar's assistant). The definition "The officer in charge of a museum, gallery of art, library, or the like; a keeper, custodian" is first attested in the second half of the 17th century.
The verb to curate is a back-formation from the noun curator. The OED's first citation dates only from 1934, and that relates to an entry in Webster's dictionary. The first example from a written text is "All London Zoo's mammals were being curated with tremendous flair", which is from a 1969 Daily Telegraph article. The Dictionary says that the verb is originally American in origin and defines it as "To act as curator of (a museum, exhibits, etc.); to look after and preserve". A more modern definition, "In extended use: to select the performers or performances to be included in (a festival, album, programme, etc.); (also) to select, organize, and present (content), as on a web site" was added in 2011.