Art Gallery Curator Careers

How to become an art gallery curator

What does an art gallery curator do?

Art gallery curators are responsible for managing collections of objects of artistic, historical and general interest. In a large gallery they might specialise, for example in art history, while in a smaller gallery they would have a broader role.

Much of the job involves acquiring objects, researching and identifying them, and cataloguing them, often on a computer. Curators are also responsible for ensuring correct storage conditions for objects.

Providing information is an important part of the job - organising displays, writing descriptions of objects, answering visitors’ questions and giving talks to local groups or school parties. Attracting visitors is crucial. A curator in a larger gallery or museum may be responsible for a specific area of the programme, for example attracting young people, or ensuring that the exhibitions are accessible to disabled visitors. Other duties might include attending to staff issues, security and insurance, and making decisions on policy.


What's the working environment like for an art gallery curator?

Work is usually 36-37 hours a week on a rota, probably with some weekend work. There could be the opportunity to work part-time.

The environment depends on the type of gallery, but work is usually indoors. There is some lifting and carrying involved, moving crates and boxes of exhibits or paintings. A driving licence is often necessary.


What does it take to become an art gallery curator?

To be an art gallery curator you will need:

  • a keen interest in art, and possibly in a specialist area
  • good organisational skills, and the ability to run a department or establishment
  • attention to detail
  • computer skills
  • decision-making and numerical skills for planning, administration and handling budgets
  • creative flair for devising displays and exhibitions
  • strong communication skills for dealing with the public, giving talks and producing information.

A degree in a relevant subject like art of history is useful in this job role, as is a postgraduate qualification in museum and gallery studies. There may be opportunities to work within a museum or gallery. Though these may or may not be paid, the experience alone is essential. 

Before becoming a curator, you will be expected to work as an assistant curator or education manager. 

Art gallery curator career opportunities

Employers include national galleries, local authorities, universities and independent companies.There may be opportunities to work overseas.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming an art gallery curator that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

UK Art Place

Museums Association
24 Calvin St
E1 6NW


Sotheby's Institute of Art

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St



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