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What is a Museum Curator?

A museum curator is often considered to be a manager or overseer of a museum. Depending on the size of a particular museum, there may be just one curator or there may be several. In general, a small museum will usually only have one curator overseeing the entire facility, while a larger museum will usually hire several curators to oversee the different sections.

Museum curators can be found in nearly every type of museum there is, including art museums, history museums, and even children’s museums. Without a curator, a museum would have a very difficult time opening its doors to the public each and every day.

What Does a Museum Curator Do?

A typical museum curator has a number of different duties and responsibilities, and despite the sleepy appearance of some museums, this can often be a high pressure job.

One of the main duties of a museum curator is to obtain artifacts and exhibits. Depending on where the curator works, this might be done a few different ways. In history museums – including art history museums – a museum curator may need to travel to obtain the artifacts and exhibits. This is generally only true of curators that work for very large museums, however. Curators that work in an art museum or gallery might also arrange art shows featuring present day artists as well.

Museum curators are also usually responsible for the arrangement of the artifacts and exhibits as well. Other museum employees will usually be responsible for actually arranging the exhibits, especially in larger museums, but the ultimate design and layout of the exhibits is the responsibility of the museum curators.

The majority of museum curators are also at least partly responsible for planning and hosting museum events. Museum events can include such things as tours, workshops, lectures, and fundraisers, as well as educational programs for museum members and the general public.

How Does a Museum Curator Find Work?

The competition for museum curator positions is generally very fierce, and a new graduate should not expect to be hired as a curator right away.

Instead, an individual may need to work in a museum in another position, such as an archivist or art restorer, before a curator position opens up. He will then usually need to apply for the position and compete against several other experienced and qualified applicants.

What Skills and Education Does a Museum Curator Need?

A museum curator career starts with a passion for art and art history. Before becoming a museum curator, an individual should first make sure that he truly appreciates all different sorts of art. Having some artistic abilities of one’s own is also helpful, but it isn’t always necessary.

Art museum curators generally need to have a Bachelor’s degree in fine art, art history, or a related field. A Master’s degree in a more specialized field is also usually required. On top of those degrees, many museum curators earn their Doctoral degrees as well. Individuals interested in a museum curator career should also consider earning a degree in museum studies as well.

What is the Average Salary of a Museum Curator?

Due to the specialized nature of this profession, individuals interested in a museum curator career can often expect to make decent money. A curator’s annual wage will also usually be influenced by the size of a museum as well. Generally, very large museums will offer higher salaries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, the average annual salary for a museum curator was $53,160 in 2010. Curators at the higher end of the pay scale earned roughly $85,000, however, and those at the lower end of the pay scale earned roughly $27,640.

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