Curators oversee collections by managing the acquisition, preservation and display of objects. Depending on the workplace, duties will include research, working with the public, exhibition design and installation, writing grant applications, managing staff and volunteers, writing labels and catalogues, preparing marketing materials and collaborating with other museum professionals such as educators, outreach officers, designers and much more.

Qualifications and personal attributes

A university degree is essential for employment as a curator, however, the pathway towards that degree is not necessarily set. For example, curators might come from an academic background in the classics, art history, archaeology, visual arts (practising artist), design or any other creative discipline. Museum-specific (museology) bachelors and post-graduate courses are available from many Australian and international universities. These include subjects such as curatorship, arts management, etc.

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"Museums and galleries are overloaded with applicants with degrees of these kinds that are very much directed towards curatorial-type positions, whereas most roles in museums are not these types of roles."

The difference from professions such as law, engineering, or medicine, is that you don’t necessarily need to study in a program specifically directed at becoming a curator. It is more important to have a focus on the industry you’d like to curate for. The first that comes to mind is a museum or art gallery, but zoos, gardens and science science are also the type of institutions that need a curator.

It is common for curators to have post-graduate qualifications and certainly most will continue academic study throughout the course of their careers. Many curators, especially those in natural and science museums that have a strong focus on research, will have a doctorate in their chosen discipline with graduate qualifications in museology or similar.

Other information

Salary summary

Curatorial Assistant:        $45,000               $58,000
Assistant Curator:            $45,000               $71,000
Curator:                           $50,000               $86,000
Senior Curator:                $80,000               $128,000

Case studies and more from the web