What you need to know
Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items and may conduct public service activities for an institution.
Depending on the size of the institution and the position they hold, they may work at a desk or spend time working with the public, providing reference assistance and educational services.
Some of the things a curator might do:
- Acquire, store, and exhibit collections
- Select the theme and design of exhibits
- Design, organize, and conduct tours and workshops for the public
- Attend meetings and civic events to promote their institution
- Clean objects such as ancient tools, coins, and statues
- Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff
- Plan and conduct special research projects
- Analytical skills: Curators need excellent analytical skills to determine the origin, history, and importance of many of the objects they work with.
- Customer-service skills: Curators work with the general public on a regular basis. They must be courteous, friendly, and able to help users find materials.
- Organizational skills: Curators store and easily retrieve records and documents. They must also develop logical systems of storage for the public to use.
The average pay for curators in the United States ranges from $30,460 to $91,800 as of May 2020.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of curators is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Continued public interest in museums and other cultural centers should lead to increased demand for curators and for the collections they manage.
Curators typically need a master’s degree in art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. Students with internship experience may have an advantage in the competitive job market.
In small museums, curator positions may be available to applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Because curators have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended.
Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Art History and Curation.