- Ideal work for someone with a passion for art and history
- Work in small independent galleries or large public sector institutions
- You may have to do some lifting and carrying
As a museum or gallery curator, you'll manage collections of artefacts or works of art. This includes dealing with the acquisition, care, display and interpretation of items with the aim of informing and educating the public.
This job is ideal for someone who has a deep interest in art and history. They are responsible for looking after a collection of art objects for a gallery, museum or private collection.
- Researching, identifying and cataloguing paintings and other items
- Making sure paintings and other items are stored in the right conditions
- Organising displays and exhibitions
- Answering visitors' questions; giving talks to groups or school parties;
- Finding ways of attracting visitors to the gallery
- Negotiating funding and the loan of paintings and other items
- You might also be responsible for day-to-day management of a gallery like supervising or managing staff, or organising insurance, security or publicity
You could work in a museum or at an art gallery. Your working environment may be physically demanding. Travel within a working day may occasionally be required, although absence from home overnight is uncommon.
You'll need a strong interest in art and history, good research and organisational skills, and design flair for creating exhibitions. Most people will work their way up to a curator role, usually starting in a related role like assistant curator, conservator, or education manager. Paid or unpaid work experience in a gallery, museum or heritage property is essential.
Curators often have qualifications in their area of expertise so, for example, a curator of ancient Greek or Roman artefacts is likely to have a degree in a relevant field, such as classical studies, ancient history or archaeology. A postgraduate qualification in museum and gallery studies, or in a particular style or period of art, might also be useful.
You may also be able to start by doing an advanced apprenticeship in heritage and cultural operations, which could lead to gallery assistant or gallery educator jobs. With further training and experience, you could apply for a curator roles.
The Museums Association has more information on becoming an art gallery curator.
You could work in galleries ranging from very small independent galleries to large public sector and national institutions, like the National or Tate Gallery. You could also work in a university gallery, or curate large companies’ collections. You would usually have more opportunities for promotion if you worked in a large gallery.
Depending upon your specialism, and with experience, you may work on a self-employed or contract basis, with the possibility of consultancy work.