How To Become a Museum Curator

To become a museum curator, the applicant will have to approach his or her application with the best qualifications possible. There are limited opportunities for this dynamic and well-respected field, so every academic pursuit must be strategic in nature. The museum curator needs to have a multi-talented and multi-faceted personality, as he or she is the sole person that can make or break a museum.

An appropriate base for the undergraduate degree would be art history or archaeology. For better refinement in preparation, it helps to have a particular type of museum in mind for your career. Are you inspired by paintings or natural history? Native American culture or Egyptology? The museum curator will wear many hats from cultural researcher to business management, and every morsel of education you manage to nibble out will be applied on a daily basis.

Typical duties for the museum curator include the acquisition of exhibits from monetary action to antiquities trading. And gallery spacing, layout and design will fall on your shoulders from time to time.

  • Analysis of gallery space must be flexible to accommodate the public in high traffic areas, while structuring the layout in a sound, logical manner.
  • An understanding of business and marketing is also required to effectively run a museum.
  • In addition, the curator will be responsible to convey the ideas behind the exhibits to the media and coordinate public educational events.
  • The curator is also the trainer for departmental staffing, and must have in-depth knowledge of antiquities care, cataloging, cleaning and display.
  • Furthermore, the curator must be an effective leader and communicator to keep the operations flowing and to create a pleasant atmosphere.

Not a job for the faint-hearted, the museum curator must be astute, creative and excel in all arenas.

Beginning your well-rounded undergraduate studies in the arts, literature, humanities, business, marketing and writing will give you a competitive edge. But perhaps the best post-baccalaureate program would be a degree in Museum Studies. This is a difficult major to find from a prestigious school, but the University of Leicester in the UK offers a comprehensive program via their Distance Learning department. The coursework leads to an M.A. in Museum Studies and may be obtained in 24 months.

Gaining plentiful knowledge and exposure in your area of interest is key to slipping in the door as a museum curator. In some cases, this may require you to be fluent in another language. Be sure you examine the industry and type of museum you desire, then tenaciously pursue your studies to ensure you have covered all the bases.


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