What does a Curator do?
Curators keep and maintain collections for institutions including museums, universities, or government facilities and tend to the various items and many types of objects found within their collections, which could be items including historical artifacts, sports memorabilia, or works of art. Curators often direct the acquisition of works and collections and serve as supervisors of relevant staff members. As preservationists, curators care for important items, documents, and entire collections that include historical transcripts, artwork, photography, and other important historical or artistic paraphernalia.
Curators will sometimes negotiate the price or acquisition of a collection as well as the lending out of in-house materials to other institutions. Staff members, including technicians, researchers, and clerical workers, consult with them to ensure the items in the collection are properly catalogued or registered with the correct entities. They are writers of grant proposals to receive funding for their institutions, and some provide copy for academic journals. They also promote their institution to the public by advertising their collections, conducting tours, and organizing workshops. Curators need a master’s degree in art history, archaeology, or museum studies.
- Assist maintenance or other personnel in the repair and maintenance of facilities and/or equipment.
- Demonstrated careful attention to detail.
Average Base Pay
Curator Career Path
Learn how to become a Curator, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
“Staff really cared and worked around my personal limitations and helped me get back to work”
“Was a good entry level internship and learning opportunity being able to work on multiple projects.”
“Little money spent on displays and understaffed and overworked.”
“I really enjoyed the fun and lively atmosphere while working.”
“I met some nice and great clients.”
“I love cricket and therefore being able to work and be close alongside cricket was a real bonus.”
“Coworkers were absolutely amazing and were the best part of my time here!”
“Last minute layoff was really inconvenient”
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of curators
Curators spend their workday designing, installing, and arranging museum exhibits and installations. They can work in a specialized area like art, history, or science or in a museum with a variety of exhibits. Curators also spend their time negotiating for and acquiring unique works of art or historical artifacts and planning how to display them.
Yes, curation is a good career. The role can be satisfying, as it provides individuals an opportunity to learn continuously, to offer their expertise and artistic opinions to highlight works of art or to help communicate an overall aesthetic. Curators typically have regular working hours but may work after hours preparing an exhibit or hosting an event for museum donors.
Yes, successful curators get paid well. The average salary for a curator in the United States is $54,541 per year. The pay for in this field varies depending on their years of experience, the level of education, and their specialization.
Working as a curator can be demanding, as the role involves working long hours occasionally to meet deadlines, and may require handling several projects at once. Curators work with many individuals. So if you're thinking about becoming a curator, strong communication and interpersonal skills are a must have.