Museum/Art Gallery Curator
Also known as
- Art Gallery/Museum Curator
- Curator, Museum/Art Gallery
- Museum/Art Gallery Keeper
- Arts Exhibition Organiser
- Museum Exhibition Organiser
Video: - Mark: Museum Curator
Video: - Katie: Assistant Curator
As a Museum / Art Gallery Curator, you will manage departments. This includes co-ordinating and supervising the work of your team, working with Junior Museum / Art Gallery Curators, Conservators and Attendants.
Museum / Art Gallery Curators usual duties include:
- identifying, registering and cataloguing objects
- looking after budgets for your department
- buying new exhibits for the collections
- organising funding and sponsorship for your museum or art gallery
- dealing with the public
- talking to local interest groups and researchers
- organising lectures and public events
- fundraising for exhibits
To arrange an exhibition, you will choose which objects to display and organise the loan of exhibits from other collections. You will also organise the transportation, insurance and storage of objects.
Curators also make sure that objects are displayed in a clear and attractive way. You will co-ordinate, write exhibition catalogues and the texts that accompany exhibits.
You could be working with Education Officers to promote tourism in schools. This means that you could be producing PowerPoint slides, work sheets and demonstrations to show the pupils the different exhibits in the museum or art gallery.
Many Museum / Art Gallery Curators carry out research. Your area of research usually depends on your specialist interests, areas of expertise and the collection. Many publish the results of their research.
As a Museum / Art Gallery Curator, you may sometimes help with mounting displays, so the job can involve some lifting and carrying. Travelling locally and nationally to supervise collections and exhibitions is also a duty that you may be involved in.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Museum / Art Gallery Curator, you'll need:
- organisational skills to plan and manage exhibitions
- communication skills to work with other members of staff, answer visitors' queries and give talks
- attention to detail when researching and cataloguing objects
- business and marketing skills
- creative ability to make a display or exhibition appealing
- writing skills to produce materials such as exhibition descriptions and catalogues, promotional materials and grant applications
- decision-making and numerical skills for managing budgets
- the ability to influence, persuade and negotiate, for example, in obtaining funding
In some museums or galleries, you might need foreign language knowledge.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £24,500 to £25,500
- With experience: £26,500 to £32,000
- Senior Museum / Art Gallery Curators earn £36,000
Hours of work
Curators work 39 hours a week, which might include some late finishes and weekend work, especially as deadlines for exhibitions approach.
Where could I work?
Employers are national, local authority and independent museums and galleries.
Self – Employment
Museum / Art Gallery Curators do have the opportunity to become self-employed, for example you could work internationally on a project or be a consultant and charge for visits.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in:
- local/national newspapers
- the websites of the Museums Association and the National Museum Directors' Council
- specialist job boards such as museumjobs.com
- general job boards
- the websites of individual museums/art galleries
Entry Routes and Training
Entry routes and training
You will need a degree to become a Museum / Art Gallery Curator and have a specialist area that you have expertise in. This includes:
- art history
- sciences, for example, geology
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. Take a look at our information article
You could also have a degree in subjects such as museum studies and heritage management.
If you have a postgraduate qualification in museum and/or art gallery studies, you might have an advantage. For some posts, a postgraduate qualification is essential.
If you would like to have some more information, The British Association of Friends of Museums offer information and advise on museums, galleries and other cultural organisations in the UK.
The National Trust also have exhibition highlights and recent acquisitions of exhibits if you would like to know some of the collections that are in the UK.
Most entrants have relevant paid or voluntary work experience. This could include experience in exhibition or event management.
Progression often depends on the size of museum or gallery you're working for. In larger establishments, there will be a more structured promotion route. You might have to change job to progress if you work in a smaller museum or art gallery.
A Curator could move on to become a Senior Curator or a Collections Manager, and then potentially to management and Museum Director levels.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
A post that involves working with children, for example, visiting school groups, can be an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
Many entrants also have postgraduate qualifications in museum/art gallery studies. For some posts, a postgraduate qualification is essential.
Entry requirements for degree courses will vary depending on the subject. Very generally, you'll need:
- 2/3 A levels
- 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
As well as relevant qualifications, many entrants have had work experience in, for example, exhibition or events management.
If you don't have the qualifications you usually need to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course.
You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, but you should check individual course details.
The University of Leicester offers an MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies and also an MA in Learning and Visitor Studies in Museums and Galleries, by distance learning.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) offers awards, through universities, for postgraduate study and research.
Local government vacancies
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National Trust (NT)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Publisher: National Portrait Gallery and other museums
Museums Association (MA)
Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC)
Northern Ireland Enquiries
National Museum Directors' Council (NMDC)
Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS)
National Museums Scotland (NMS)
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
Volunteering Wales (Welsh Enquiries)
Tel: 0800 288 8329
Museums Archives and Libraries Wales (cyMAL)
Wales Council for Voluntary Action
The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales
National Museum Wales