A Closer Look at a Career as a Museum...

A Closer Look at a Career as a Museum Curator

by Rochelle C. Pangilinan
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

“Curate” is a term that has become a part of everyday vocabulary. You must have heard your friends say they want to curate their playlist or you’ve probably caught your aunt or uncle say they want to curate their menu for their upcoming dinner party. Basically, anything which involves organizing or planning is now being referred to as curate.

Those who frequent art institutions know that curate refers to establishing a collection for art exhibits, and although planning and organization are major parts of their job, curators certainly need more than those skills if they want to be triumphant in their profession. Let us take a comprehensive look at this popular career.

Curators – What You Need to Know

Curators have the main responsibility of deciding which artists’ pieces or collection are to be showcased in art galleries, museums, and educational institutions. Curators are also found in science centres, aquaria, archives, facilities dedicated to Hall-of-Fame athletes, zoos, and historic sites.

To fulfill this responsibility, they need to be well-versed in the arts to know which works capture the attention of art connoisseurs. They need to keep themselves up to date on the trends and the prominent artists in the making. They should also be meticulous enough to conduct their own research by travelling the world and getting themselves acquainted with artists from other cultures. In some cases, they not only coordinate with the artists themselves but also with private collectors or donors whom they have to negotiate with in order to showcase their collection.

Once they have designated which artworks are to be put on display, they take charge for their transport, storage, maintenance, upkeep, and cataloguing. When exhibits are launched, they have the main role of ensuring everything goes as planned by having the first say on staging, publicity, and execution.


According to PayScale.com, a curator can earn as much as $34,963 up to $76,596 a year. In some cases, they are also entitled to profit sharing and other bonuses.


If you are looking at a career as a curator, you would have to complete a bachelor’s degree in the field of art, science, or history. You can also consider museology programs offered in selected universities. It is a big advantage if you are artist or an art lover yourself, although having extensive and historical knowledge about artists, subjects, or eras are typically sufficient. It is a must though that you are aware of general practices in museums and art galleries.

Professional affiliations and connections are helpful for those who want to stabilize their status in the field. For example, the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is a national organization dedicated to the continuous growth of the Canadian museum sector and provides training and support for any professional in the industry via development programs, conferences, publications, and networking opportunities.

Pros and Cons

Having the authority on which pieces to put on display is certainly an advantage as curators get to see the pieces before anyone else. They also get to work with emerging artists, and in this aspect, they somehow get to play a part in their future success.

A disadvantage is that it can involve working long hours and being available for all types of events. It can also be extremely demanding especially when traveling is required. On the other hand, this can be an advantage for those who don’t really see themselves as professionals sitting at the office all day. If you want to be a curator, you can expect a profession filled with excitement, that’s for sure.





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