Art Curator Job Description
An Art Curator is responsible for implementing and managing art exhibitions and collections, typically at museums, by collecting, organizing, evaluating and cataloging arts, collectibles and historical items. They also often participate in conceptualizing exhibitions, researching artwork, and doing outreach for organizations by providing instructional activities, educational and public service programs.
Common employers art curators are museums and historical sites, universities, colleges and local, state and federal governments. They may also work for independent social organizations. The labor is skilled and jobs are offered within both entry and management levels. Job outlook for the general category of Curator, which includes Art Curators, is 7 percent growth, which is in line with the national average.
Art Curator Duties and Responsibilities
There are many duties that Art Curators must perform in order to accomplish their task of implementing exhibitions and managing collections. In analyzing many job listings, we have identified the following core Art Curator duties and responsibilities.
The Art Curator must record and catalog all artwork and items in collections, including researching objects for the purposes of identification and authentication. They must ensure the adequate care of objects in on-loan and permanent collections. Sometimes they are also responsible for the acquisition of new collection items and overseeing museum purchases and gifts.
Develop and Implement Exhibitions
Conceptualizing, planning and installing exhibitions is a crucial part of an Art Curator’s job. This includes writing acquisition and exhibition proposals, planning the presentation of and installing artwork and objects, as well as creating labels and interpretive materials and training docents and other museum staff on exhibition presentation and information.
Research and Publication
Art Curators must play an active role in the art community by publishing research and information to journals, catalogs and books. They are responsible for maintaining updated knowledge of the art market and in-depth knowledge of their collections and exhibitions.
Administer Public Programs
In order to maintain a strong relationship with the public, Art Curators must develop and oversee educational programs and donor cultivation plans for their organization. They are responsible for creating and strengthening educational and interpretational materials and curricula, building relationships with the community and training teachers and museum staff.
Art Curator Skills
Knowledgeable in their field, highly educated and excellent communicators with strong interpersonal skills, Art Curators are both visually savvy and detail-oriented analytical thinkers. They can develop relationships across diverse groups of people. They are highly organized and great and prioritizing simultaneous tasks. They’re able to collaborate and work in teams across various fields and departments.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Art Curators with these core skills. If you want to work as an Art Curator, focus on the following.
- Having a deep knowledge of the arts, including artists, artistic forms and artistic methods
- Possessing specialized knowledge of specific subjects in art and history
- Working in museum settings with knowledge of exhibition development and operations as well as curatorial practices
- Developing relationships with important collectors, artists, scholars and others in the art market
- Researching artists and related subjects
- Managing multiple projects and collaborating with cross functional teams
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Art Curator toolbox and broaden your career options.
- PhD in Art History or related field
- Foreign languages related to your field of expertise
- Published research
Art Curator Resources
We scoured the web for more industry resources we could find to help you learn more about a career as an Art Curator. From leaders in the field to key industry groups, this list is full of opportunities to learn, connect, and engage.
On the Web
Museum 2.0 – Blog on creating more engaging museum exhibits
Curator’s Corner – A blog about everything art related
Face-to-Face – Official blog of the National Portrait Gallery
AAMC – The Association of Art Museum Curators
IKT – International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art
Curators’ Network – Networking group for European curators
Art Curator Books
Ways of Curating – Curatorial insights from Hans Ulrich Obrist
The Curator’s Handbook – Essential resource for curators and curatorial students
A Brief History of Curating – A collection of interviews detailing the development of the curatorial industry
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