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What Degree Do You Need To Be A Museum Curator

What Skills Does A Curator Need

Career Advice on becoming an Assistant Curator by Elizabeth B (Full Version)

In addition to project management and visual storytelling skills, successful curators have a diverse set of abilities that help them accomplish a variety of high-level administrative tasks beyond planning and presenting historical collections. Some additional qualities and skills that applicants for a curator role should possess include:

Earn An Advanced Degree

Curators must have extensive knowledge of history and art, but The Princeton Review notes that many also possess an understanding of restoration techniques, business administration, and even public relations. While nearly all curators have a masters degree, national museums and some other sites require curators to have a PhD.

What Degree Do You Need To Work In A Museum

Working in a museum can be highly gratifying, with a wide range of professions to suit a wide range of interests far more than you may expect.

However, the sector is severely oversubscribed, and there is frequently fierce rivalry for paid positions. The current situation is grim, as many cultural organizations that have lost income due to the lockout are increasingly resorting to layoffs, implying that competition for paid positions would be considerably fiercer beyond 2020. As a potential museum employee, the most important thing you can do is prioritize your own health. If youre still reading, know that the industry requires your expertise and enthusiasm.

They are administrative professionals with a flair for aesthetics and a love of design. Museum curators are likely to have a better career outlook than the general population. Youll learn everything you need to know about being a museum curator in this article, which will help you decide if this is the perfect career path for you.

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What Degree Does A Museum Curator Need

If you think a curator may be a role for you, check out ASU Online’s Bachelor of Arts in history to take a crucial first step in learning how to become a museum curator. An undergraduate degree in history will expose you to vital context around the objects and displays you would be working with as a curator. You’ll also be able to see how historians present history, and learn how to communicate historical information effectively â important skills for any curator to possess.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, ASU Online’s Master of Arts in history can help you develop the historical and technical knowledge you’ll need to succeed as a curator at a more advanced level and may give you a leg up in the job market. Through the program, you can also learn how to leverage frameworks and methods of interpretation to create educational exhibits.

Earning a degree, whether a bachelor’s or a master’s, is important for anyone pursuing a curator career. Areas of study include communicating history in the public sphere, oral history and public history methodology. The courses in the history program are flexible, so you can focus on subjects that interest you.

In the current labor market, it’s important to gain the right skills, experience and knowledge to give yourself a competitive advantage. On the museum curator career track, a university education can be a valuable resource for achieving long-term success.

Curatorial Practice Today Looks Very Different Than It Did 25 Years Ago

Art Curator Job Description: Salary, Skills, &  More

Hoffmann noted that the answer to their central question would have been quite the opposite just a few decades earlier. Originally trained as a theater director, he recalled that at the beginning of his curatorial career, I was often confronted with a lot of skepticism. At first, I think I was interesting and curious, but once my practice became more known there was more resentment and antagonism. He said he was frequently asked the very question the panel was posing: How can you work at a museum without having a degree in art history? Today, however, that query seems very conservative and outdated, Hoffman said.

Beatrice von Bismarck, professor and founder of the masters program Cultures of the Curatorial at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig, agreed that exhibitions have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Previously, the assumption was that a curator was someone who objectively presented something to the public using the knowledge that he or she acquired as an art historian. But since the 1950s and 60s, there has been an increasing acknowledgment of subjectivity. A curator is never a transparent foil through which something is mediated to the outside world, von Bismarck said.

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Get An Undergraduate Degree

To become a museum curator, you need to have an undergraduate degree in a related field. The degree that you choose may differ according to what you want to specialise in. For example, a degree in fine art is good if you plan to work in an art setting as it gives you practical skills and an understanding of art history. Some universities offer internships or placement opportunities for students wanting to develop their creative assets. These opportunities offer you the chance to connect with professionals in the field who could assist you with advice or graduate jobs.

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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.

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Education For Archivists Curators And Museum Workers

Archivists. Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival science, political science, or public administration. Although many colleges and universities have history, library science, or other similar programs, only a few institutions offer master’s degrees in archival studies. Students may gain valuable archiving experience through volunteer or internship opportunities.

Curators. Curators typically need a master’s 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 bachelor’s degree. Because curators have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.

Museum technicians. Museum technicians, commonly known as registrars, typically need a bachelor’s degree. Few schools offer a bachelor’s degree in museum studies, so it is common for registrars to obtain an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as art history, history, or archaeology. Some jobs may require candidates to have a master’s degree in museum studies. Museums may prefer candidates with knowledge of the museum’s specialty, training in museum studies, or previous experience working in museums.

Promotion For Archivists Curators And Museum Employees

Dream Jobs: Museum Curator

Meetings, conferences, and workshops offered by the archive, historical, and museum associations provide opportunities for continuing education.

In-house training is provided by certain large institutions, such as the United States National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. Top museum roles are competitive and in high demand. In major institutions, performing original research and publishing work is critical for advancement.

A doctoral degree may also be required for some advanced roles. Museum employees working in small institutions may have fewer prospects for advancement. Transferring to a larger institution with supervisory positions is the most common way for them to advance.

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Consider A Doctoral Degree

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.

What Does A Museum Or Art Gallery Curator Do

Museum or art gallery curators oversee and manage public or private collections of artwork or historic items.

As a museum or art gallery curator, you would:

  • select, acquire or borrow items or collections
  • catalogue acquisitions and keep records
  • make sure items in the collection and exhibits are stored under the right conditions
  • arrange conservation and restoration
  • plan and set up displays and exhibitions
  • display objects or collections in a way that makes them accessible and engaging
  • organise publicity
  • secure sponsorship for events, publications and development projects
  • handle enquiries from researchers and the public
  • liaise with staff in other museums or art galleries
  • giving talks to groups
  • manage budgets and security issues, and supervise staff
  • liaise with management boards, governors, trustees, government and community groups to secure the future of the museum or art gallery

To become a museum or art gallery curator, you would need:

  • a keen interest in art or history, possibly in a specialist area
  • good research skills
  • the ability to organise and manage people and resources
  • a detail-oriented and methodical approach to your work
  • computer skills

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What Do Museum Curators Do

Skillshare Instructor Eva Key at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

What does a museum curator do? Turns out, theres no single museum curator job description, and the everyday duties of a museum curator vary significantly depending on the size of the museum or gallery where they work.

A large, well-known, and well-funded museum like New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art will have many curators, each working on specific collections. Smaller museums and galleries, on the other hand, may only have one curator who oversees the running of the whole institution. These folks may also work with guest curators for traveling exhibits.

Generally speaking, some of the museum curator job requirements are:

  • Taking care of items in the museum or gallerys permanent collection
  • Planning special exhibits of items in the permanent collection
  • Liaising with other museums and institutions for traveling exhibits
  • Acquiring new artworks and artifacts
  • Recording and documenting the items in the collection
  • Writing or editing textual displays
  • Writing and planning outreach and promotional materials for the museum
  • Planning community events and fundraisers
  • Managing the finances of the museum or department

Get Hired As A Museum Curator

The Ministry of Curiosity: On PhDs and museum jobs

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:

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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 theyre employed by and also the curators 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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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.

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Where To Study In India

Department of Museology, Calcutta University, Kolkata, Banaras Hindu University, Jiwaji University, Gwalior, MS University Baroda, National Museum Institute ,Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, Osmania University, Solapur University ,Vikram University are some of the known institutions offering courses like MA, MSc , PhD Museology and other required courses to become a museum curator.

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Career Salary And Education Information

Ask A Curator

What They Do: Archivists and curators oversee collections of historic items or artwork. Museum technicians and conservators prepare or restore items in museum collections.

Work Environment: Archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators work in museums, historical sites, governments, colleges and universities, corporations, and other institutions. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Archivist, curator, and conservator positions typically require a masters degree related to the positions field. Museum technicians typically have a bachelors degree. Prior experience gained through an internship or by volunteering in archives or museums is helpful in getting a position as an archivist, curator, museum technician, or conservator.

Salary: The median annual wage for archivists, curators, and museum workers is $50,120.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow 19 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of archivists, curators, and museum workers with similar occupations.

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How Can One Become A Museum Curator In India

To begin with, one should have passed their 10+2 with science and mathematics from a reputed institution with good marks in the concerned examination.The next step would be to obtain the Bachelor of Arts degree in Archeology and Museology from a recognized university. One also needs a Master of Arts degree in Museology or Postgraduate Diploma in Museology or a Masters degree in Zoology/ Botany/ Geology/ Geography / Earth Sciences/Anthropology/ Agriculture/ Environmental Science/ Marine Science.Post graduates can apply for any internship or training or can join as volunteers in museums while pursuing their graduation. This increases the chance to easily get into employment. Some employers may also require candidates who possess a doctorate degree in related field. On completing the Masters degree, students can apply for the concerned doctorate degree programmes which is through entrance exams.

How To Become An Archivist Curator Or Museum Worker About This Section

Archivists, curators, and conservators typically need a masters degree museum technicians typically need a bachelors degree. Fields of degree may include fine and performing arts, history, or social science. Experience gained through an internship or by volunteering in archives or museums is helpful.

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What Degree Do I Need To Be A Curator

  • Degree Finder

  • Highest Paying Science Careers
  • A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist charged with an institutions collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.

    There are different types of curators. Depending on where you work as a curator, this will influence the degree. Here are the two most common places that employ the services of a curator.

    What Are Different Types Of Curator Jobs

    Want to Be an Art Curator? You Need These Skills

    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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    How Do You Get A Job In An Art Museum

    Lets see how you can get museum jobs! Are you sure about doing museum works? Do a proper research about museum jobs. Start from the entry-level museum jobs. Museum employment: Attend events, seminars, workshops or conferences organised by museums. There are always other opportunities in museum works.

    Essential Skills And Traits Of A Museum Curator

    Along with completing your formal education and on-the-job training, you can become a more effective museum curator by actively cultivating certain skills and traits. Museum curators can benefit from having the following:

    • Curiosity and a commitment to lifelong learning
    • Creativity
    • Attention to detail
    • Recordkeeping and organization skills
    • Communication skills

    A customer service mindset is also helpful. Museum curators must frequently interact with members of the public, helping them learn about the exhibits and answering questions. In addition, museum curators are often responsible for writing grant proposals and conducting other fundraising activities as such, public relations skills and writing abilities are important.

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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.

    What You Need To Know

    MBT – Assistant Museum Curator

    Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items and may conduct public service activities for an institution.

    Depending on the size of the institution and the position they hold, they may work at a desk or spend time working with the public, providing reference assistance and educational services.

    Some of the things a curator might do:

    • Acquire, store, and exhibit collections
    • Select the theme and design of exhibits
    • Design, organize, and conduct tours and workshops for the public
    • Attend meetings and civic events to promote their institution
    • Clean objects such as ancient tools, coins, and statues
    • Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff
    • Plan and conduct special research projects
    • Analytical skills: Curators need excellent analytical skills to determine the origin, history, and importance of many of the objects they work with.
    • Customer-service skills: Curators work with the general public on a regular basis. They must be courteous, friendly, and able to help users find materials.
    • Organizational skills: Curators store and easily retrieve records and documents. They must also develop logical systems of storage for the public to use.

    Watch this video to learn more from our curator role models:

    The average pay for curators in the United States ranges from $30,450 to $96,500 as of May 2021.

    The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

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