What Does an Art Museum Curator Do?

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Art curators are the backbone of museums. From large institutions like the Met to local museums in your hometown, art curators are in charge of taking care of their collections. Curators spend their days acquiring new objects, negotiating loans, creating exhibits and reaching out to the public.

Overseeing the collection

  • Curators act as the guardians of their collections. They make sure new acquisitions are properly stored and they write articles about their artworks. When another museum requests an art loan, the curator also negotiates the exchange.

Creating exhibitions

  • Planning new exhibits is a big part of a curator's career. An art curator can spend months (and sometimes years) doing research and choosing artworks for an upcoming exhibition. Exhibitions require careful planning, especially if a curator wants to borrow pieces from other museums.

Fundraising and promotion

  • More and more frequently, art curators have to spend time raising money for new acquisitions and exhibits. Fundraising includes writing grant proposals, creating publicity materials and attending various events.

Education and training

  • Most museums require an art curator to have a Masters degree in art history or a related field. At larger museums like the National Gallery of Art in Washington, curators often have a doctorate degree.

Job outlook

  • Students who wish to become art curators face stiff competition for jobs. There are few openings in this field and so candidates may have to intern or work part-time before they find a full-time position.

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  • Photo Credit Chief curator Anne Pontégnie at Kelley Walker's exhibition (Wiels contemporary art center, Brussels, B). This image is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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