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How To Become An Art Museum Curator

Consider A Doctoral Degree

How did you become a curator?

In some cases, organizations require curators to have doctoral degrees, such as an administrative position at a national museum like the Smithsonian. A number of degrees, such as history, chemistry, business administration, restoration science and curatorship, can build upon your prior education to make you a well-rounded museum administrator.

Average Museum Curator Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for archivists, curators, and museum workers in 2020 as $52,000 per year, or around $25 per hour. While this isnt particularly lucrative, remember that this is the median: theres also the potential to earn more when youre experienced. This also includes staff who work in museums, such as in the ticket office. Not all museum workers are specialist curators.

The BLS also notes that theres much faster than average growth in this career, meaning that well-trained and skilled curators will likely have good job security in the next decade.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Museum Curator

It can take five to 10 years, on average, to get a job as a museum curator. While some entry-level positions may exist, most museum curator positions are management-level. In most cases, you need about six years of school and three to five years of experience before you meet the minimum qualifications to become a museum curator.

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Most Common Colleges For Museum Curator

Here are the most common colleges for a Museum Curator career in the US based on their resumes. Advocates often get their degree in Virginia Commonwealth University, University of California, Berkeley, and Southern University at New Orleans .

Virginia Commonwealth University

Southern University at New Orleans

University of Connecticut

Southern University at New Orleans 6.98%

What Education Do You Need To Be An Art Curator

How to Become an Art Museum Curator

To become a museum or art gallery curator you generally need an arts or science degree at university with a major in a relevant area, such as anthropology, archaeology, fine arts, history, or cultural studies. To get into degree courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent.

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How To Become A Museum Curator: Step

Museum curators make decisions about what content should be shared in a museum and when. They are administrative professionals with a flair for creativity and a passion for aesthetics. The job outlook for museum curators is expected to grow faster than average. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about becoming a museum curator to help you determine if this is the right career path for you.

Art Curator Duties And Responsibilities

As part of their regular duties and tasks, an art curator may perform some or all of the following:

  • Manage collections by recording and cataloging artwork and items in collections
  • Research objects to document identification and authentication
  • Develop, plan, and execute various exhibitions
  • Write acquisition and exhibition proposals
  • Plan the presentation and installation of artwork and objects
  • Create labels and interpretive materials for artwork
  • Train docents and other museum staff on the exhibition’s presentation and information.
  • Play an active role in the art community by publishing research and information to journals, catalogs, and books
  • Have updated information about the art market and in-depth knowledge of the collections and exhibitions they manage
  • Develop and oversee educational programs and plans to cultivate donors for their organization

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How To Become An Art Museum Curator

Curators typically need a masters degree in art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. Students with internship experience may have an advantage in the competitive job market. In small museums, curator positions may be available to applicants with a bachelors degree.

How To Become A Curator Of An Art Gallery

What’s a Curator? | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

To become a museum or art gallery curator you generally need an arts or science degree at university with a major in a relevant area, such as anthropology, archaeology, fine arts, history, or cultural studies. To get into degree courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent.

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How To Get The Job


Look at job-search resources like,, and for available positions. You can also visit the websites of individual museums or visit them in person to apply to existing job openings.


Look for an opportunIty to do volunteer work through online sites such as You can also contact various museums directly and volunteer your curatorial services.


Many jobs are available at universities and colleges. Attend events sponsored by the schools or approach personnel at the museums directly to inquire about potential positions.

Get A Master’s Degree Or Higher

It’s a good idea to seek a master’s degree or higher if you want to work in museum administration. A Master of Fine Arts will give you a practical education with lots of real-world experience in curating art shows for galleriesexperience that will be invaluable if you decide to work in a museum. Oftentimes, people getting a Master in Fine Arts are responsible for getting their own art shown in galleries, booking art shows and more.

If your desire is to work in a museum of natural sciences or history, or some other kind of museum outside of art, a master’s in business administration could help.

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Where Does A Museum Curator Work

The majority of museum and gallery curators work in galleries, museums, historical sites, and similar institutions. Twenty-three percent work in government, and 18 percent work in education state, local and private institutions. Other workplaces include art spaces, tourist attractions, like zoos and aquariums, botanical gardens, nature centers, and sometimes in community art centers. Curators will also spend much of their time working in offices and storerooms, or providing education and reference assistance to the public. Because curators work with valuable artwork, antiques, and collectibles, they will also work under tight security.

Curators working in larger museums may travel extensively to evaluate potential collections for display in the museum, to organize exhibits, or conduct research. Most work full-time, but they may also work extra hours preparing an exhibition, or during evening meetings or other social events. Curators working in smaller galleries and museums rarely travel.

Are Art Curators Rich

What is a Curator?  Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

But the creativity and flexibility independent curators bring often comes at the price of much financial stability, pay, or benefits for the curators themselves. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there were 12,400 full-time curators working in the U.S. as of 2016 earning an average of around $59,000 annually.

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How Does A Curator Choose Art

Curators arent just interested in your work, theyre interested in what youre trying to convey. A museum might pick a theme for a block of exhibitions and will be more likely to consider your works if it fits within it. Think about your point of view as an artist and how your work aligns with that point of view.

Recent Salary Records For Art Museum Curator

View the most recent Salary Records anonymously contributed on Comparably.

  • An Art Museum Curator reported making $70,000 per year in Los Angeles

    More than 30 days ago · $70,000· Los Angeles, CA

  • An Art Museum Curator reported making $80,000 per year in San Francisco

    More than 30 days ago · $80,000· San Francisco, CA

  • An Art Museum Curator reported making $61,000 per year in Boston

    More than 30 days ago · $61,000· Boston, MA

  • A CaucasianFemaleArt Museum Curator reported making $80,000 per year in San Francisco at a company with 501-1,000 Employees in Arts and Entertainment industry.

    More than 30 days ago · $80,000· 501-1,000 Employees· San Francisco, CA

  • A CaucasianFemaleArt Museum Curator reported making $61,000 per year in Eugene at a company with 201-500 Employees in Arts and Entertainment industry.

    More than 30 days ago · $61,000· 201-500 Employees· Eugene, OR

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Licenses Certifications And Registrations

Although most employers do not require certification, some archivists may choose to earn voluntary certification because it allows them to demonstrate expertise in a particular area.

The Academy of Certified Archivists offers the Certified Archivist credential. To earn certification, candidates usually must have a masters degree, have professional archival experience, and pass an exam. They must renew their certification periodically by retaking the exam or fulfilling continuing education credits.

Education & Training For A Museum Curator

How to become a curator?

To become a museum curator you usually have to complete an arts or science degree at university with a major in a relevant area, such as anthropology, archaeology, fine arts, history, cultural studies, astronomy, biology or environmental science , followed by a postgraduate qualification in museum studies, curatorship or cultural heritage management.To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree and may require previous museum experience. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

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Get Hired As A Museum Curator

Once you’ve achieved the combined amount of education, skill development and experience needed to work as a museum curator, apply for jobs. Using a website like Indeed Job Search you can find museum curator positions in cities near you.

Prepare your resume before you apply, making sure to add all relevant experience and tailor a cover letter to each job you apply to. Something to consider when preparing your resume and cover letter is to select keywords from the job description and use those throughout your documents.


Here are some frequently asked questions to consider before becoming a museum curator:

Pursue A Master’s Degree

The majority of art curators have a master’s degree, and many employers require this as a minimum hiring requirement. Pursuing a postgraduate degree is especially recommended if you would like to become an art curator with administrative duties. A master’s degree goes into more detail on the topics you studied in your undergraduate degree, which can give you a better understanding of the field.

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Art Curator Is A Rewarding Career The Question Is How Can You Become One

Art curatorial education and career have been heightened to be a critical part of the art world over the past few decades and becoming the top choice for many art students.

Notably, the word curating has turned into a buzzword that prevails in many industries recently. The newfound popularity of this word manifests the importance and influence of the art curating profession and how does it shape peoples perception of art as well as their day-to-day life.

However, an art curators job is unique and much more intricate than many people assume, which requires depth knowledge and abundant experience in specific art and design areas.

So, how to become an art curator? The first step to set yourself on a flourishing career as an art curator is all about the basics, what is an art curator, what does this job entail, and the career path of becoming one.

How Much Tax Will You Have To Pay As An Art Museum Curator

How to Become a Museum Curator: Job Description, Degrees ...

For an individual filer in this tax bracket, you would have an estimated average federal tax in 2018 of 22%. After a federal tax rate of 22% has been taken out, Art Museum Curators could expect to have a take-home pay of $64,436/year, with each paycheck equaling approximately $2,685*.

* assuming bi-monthly pay period. Taxes estimated using tax rates for a single filer using 2018 federal and state tax tables. Metro-specific taxes are not considered in calculations. This data is intended to be an estimate, not prescriptive financial or tax advice.

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Museum Curator Education Requirements And Degrees

The education needed to be a Museum Curator is normally a Bachelor’s Degree. Museum Curators usually study History, Fine Arts or Anthropology. 68% of Museum Curators hold a Bachelor’s Degree and 16% hold a Master’s Degree. We found these by analyzing 225 Museum Curator resumes to investigate the topic of Museum Curator education more precisely.

The most common colleges for students to pursue their goal of becoming a Museum Curator are Virginia Commonwealth University and University of California, Berkeley. We also broke down what colleges provide the best overall education for a Museum Curator. Students have a great path to earning their Museum Curator qualifications at the following schools:

  • Harvard University
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • If you’re interested in getting a college degree in an affordable college for Museum Curators – University of Florida is an excellent option for you. If your SAT or ACT score aren’t as high as you’d like, you can look at Notre Dame de Namur University, as the admission requirements aren’t too selective. On the other end of that spectrum are the Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and Brown University.

    For those who would rather stay in your pajamas during the day, we prepared some online courses that can help in Museum Curator education paths.

    Earning Potential For An Art Curator

    A museum or art gallery typically employs art curators full time. Salaries for art curators vary depending on a number of factors such as where the institution is located, the size and financial health of the institution they’re employed by and also the curator’s years of experience and formal education. Their specific job and duties can also affect their salary. For instance, many curators may also be the manager or director of museum or gallery. The average salary for a gallery manager is $183,798 per year.

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    Education Training And Certification

    The art curator position involves having specific knowledge and understanding of art and the art field obtained through college and post-graduate education.

    • Education: While most curator positions require a master’s degree in art history or museology, smaller galleries may only require a bachelor’s degree in art or art history. Larger organizations typically require a master’s or doctorate in art or art history. Coursework should focus on art history and include a wide range of periods and styles of art and architecture.
    • Experience: The curator position is usually open to those who have at least three to four years of experience in a museum or gallery environment. This could be an assistant curator, museum technician, or similar position.

    What Are Different Types Of Curator Jobs

    Museum Curator — Get Ready for Your Career 3

    Curators are typically the overseers of museums and private collections. In this role, you work with a collection of physical objects of historical or cultural significance. However, in the modern day and age, a significant portion of curator work has shifted to digital collections. Whether its digital archives of photographs, news clips, or other items, digital content curation is a newer field thats been gaining traction. Content curator positions are cropping up as well. You can find curator jobs in museums, libraries, archives, and personal collections. All of these job types require you to be highly organized, communicate well with people, and have strong computer skills.

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    What Archivists Curators And Museum Workers Do About This Section

    Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historical items and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.

    How Competitive Is Museum Curator

    Are curators in demand? Competition for curator positions will continue to be extremely competitive, as the field has a low turnover rate and there are generally more qualified applicants on the market than there are available jobs. Art and history museums are expected to remain the largest employers of curators.

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    Earn A Bachelors Degree

    For those wondering how to become a museum curator, the first step is to acquire the proper education. The BLS states that most curator positions require a bachelors and masters degree in a related field, such as art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. Bachelors degrees like the online Maryville University Bachelor of Arts in History help students cultivate the skills considered fundamental to the position, including project management competencies, technical skills, and soft competencies such as organizational and communication skills.

    Through the study of social and cultural history, curators are able to assign meaning and connection between historical events and put them in context with todays culture. Curators must develop strong research, writing, verbal communication, critical analysis, and digital literacy skills to succeed in this highly competitive field.

    Get A Postgraduate Degree

    Make Money As An Art Curator

    Since a museum curator usually oversees administrative and business duties, a master’s degree is usually necessary. Postgraduate studies build on undergraduate-level education by giving you practical experience. Those who consider a master’s in fine arts have the opportunity to show their work at galleries or manage exhibitions, which are experiences that look good on a CV.

    Alternatively, you can get a master’s degree in business studies if you prefer to enhance your administrative qualities. These include fundraising and marketing. Postgraduate studies encourage extensive research, which applies to the museum curator role. As a museum curator, you may contribute to your academic field through conferences and journal articles. Therefore, research projects can facilitate this ability and give you a chance to specialise in a certain topic within a broad academic field.

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