Ancient History Museum Curator

By: Sabrina Wright

Facts about the Job:

-Curator means ‘to care’, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. A curator’s job is not only to look after the collections in exhibitions, but to build them up in the first place.

From the initial assembling and cataloguing of items right up to them being displayed for the public, you’ll be there every step of the way.

You can specialise in a particular era or item, or just dip your hand in anything and everything. Your work will vary depending on the exhibit and your employer.

-Typical Duties:

  • Planning, developing and presenting exhibitions
  • Buying items (negotiating skills help here)
  • Arranging restorations
  • Applying for loans and grants
  • Identifying artefacts
  • Cataloguing exhibition items
  • Dealing with enquiries from public and professionals (including the dreaded stake-holders)
  • Researching anything that can add to a collection
  • Keeping the items preserved in top condition
  • Preparing budgets
  • Writing articles for both website and print to promote it
  • Hiring and training staff

-Your working environment can vary, so you could be working in a museum, in a gallery, a historic site, it could be anything.

You’ve got the usual 9am-5pm weekday hours to look forward to, although in the run-up to an exhibit you may have to do over-time and the occasional evening.

-You’ll need to knuckle down and get studying if you want to be a curator. Getting a degree, or even a postgraduate or diploma tends to be a necessity for a lot of employers. Want to make sure you study something relevant and in your interests.

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Art
  • Geology
  • History of art
  • Arts administration
  • Event/exhibition management
  • History
  • Heritage management
  • Natural history/zoology
  • Museum studies

-If you have of some of these traits, then congratulations, you’re perfect for the world of curating:

  • Organised
  • Ability to project manage
  • Understanding of museums (both how they catalogue and working environment)
  • Good research skills (an essential trait)
  • Ability to work in a team
  • IT skills, including web design (useful in almost every profession these days)
  • Understanding of heritage councils and local authorities (you’ll be dealing with them a lot)
  • A passion for the subject you’re curating
  • Good attention to detail
  • Ability to raise money/fundraise
  • Creative

-A PhD in a specialist area that you want to curate is also helpful, but, as ever, some work experience looks great on a CV. So try and get a placement at a museum, even if you can’t shadow a curator, you’ll learn plenty about the environment and make some useful contacts. You’ll also need to be a great communicator, as not only will you need to liaise with other professionals and business partners to ensure success, but you’ll also need to present the exhibit’s items in a way that reflects an intended message.

-Requires a bachelor's degree in area of specialty and 4-5 years of experience in the field or in a related area. Familiar with a variety of the field's concepts, practices, and procedures. Relies on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals.

-The median expected salary for a typical Museum Curator in the United States is $52,846.




Comment Stream