Curators are responsible for the collections in Museums, Art Galleries, or other cultural and research institutions. In this job you could be finding and buying new items, cleaning artefacts, finding ways to preserve exhibits, as well as creating displays the most innovative, fun, appealing and educational ways possible for the public.
Are you passionate about art, culture, the environment or education? Or if you are creative and excited to share your passions in ways that will appeal to a wide range of people, then working as a Curator could be fantastic job for you.
- Natural storyteller, engaging and inventive with excellent communication skills
- Organised with an objective and methodical approach to work
- Pay attention to details and able to be critique your own work
- Excellent researching, IT and multi-media skills
- A team worker who’s a decisive leader and can manage resources effectively
Your duties as a Curator will vary depending on where you’re working and what type of role you choose to do, but on an average day you could expect to be:
- Finding and buying new collections
- Identifying and recording items, then researching them
- Exploring different ways to exhibit or preserve them
- Arranging restoration works
- Working with the public, doing presentations or answering questions
- Designing exhibitions or installations
- Writing grant applications and fundraising, keeping to a strict budget
- Managing staff and volunteers
- Preparing labels and cataloguing items and writing detailed records
- Creating educational and promotional material
- Collaborating with other museum professionals such as security staff, marketing, educators and outreach workers
Lifestyle Impact: Low
- Part Time opportunities: Good around 33% of curators work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Average hours for full-time workers: 42 hours a week (source: labourmarketinsights.com.au).
- Curators salary (average) $85,000* per year (source: seek.com.au). *Salaries vary between industries, your role, and depending on your skills and experience.
- Future career growth: Moderate (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Working in this field, there could be opportunities to travel, get out and about and work on site or go on buying or research trips. Some of your work could also be done remotely and online, meaning that you could work some of the time from home.
Curators are most in demand in these locations:
This is a small profession, and at the moment a large proportion of Curators are employed in the ACT, although there are opportunities to be found Australia-wide – even in some of the more remote parts.
How to become a Curator in Australia
You’ll need a relevant bachelor’s degree or postgraduate qualification if you’d like to work as a Curator.
You can tailor your qualification to reflect your areas of interest such as arts, science, technology, natural history, cultural heritage, history, anthropology or archaeology for example, majoring in a relevant field.
Step 1 – Choose high school subjects that reflect your interests and will help you to meet any university course prerequisites. You’ll need English to demonstrate you’ve got the necessary communication skills. IT could come in very useful too.
Step 2 – Complete relevant tertiary qualification, e.g.:
- Bachelor of Art History and Curatorship at ANU
- Bachelor of Art History and Curating at Monash
- Bachelor of Arts Major Archaeology at USQ
If you choose to do Zoology, for example, and there’s no major that you think will qualify you to work as a curator; then follow your passions, and if you’re still keen to pursue this career after you graduate, you could look at completing a postgraduate qualification.
- Graduate Certificate in Art Curating at USYD
- Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies at Deakin
- Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne
- Master of Art Curating at USYD
- Master of Arts (Curatorial & Museum Studies) at Adelaide Uni
Vocational Qualifications could also be a pathway into a university degree if you’d like to test the waters first. Your studies could count as credits towards your degree (you’ll need to confirm with the universities though).
Remember, you may have the option of studying some courses online.
Step 3 – Volunteering or getting relevant work experience is a great way to network and give your resume a boost. Once you have gained the necessary qualifications, you could also look at internships as a way of getting your foot in the door.
Find out more here –
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do Curators do?
Curators spend their days immersed in their passions. In this job you could be researching works of art, cultures or relics. Telling stories about collections that are both interesting and educational to your audiences. Finding and creating exhibitions as well as deciding on the themes and ideas that will introduce them. You might also have to do presentations and market your collection in other ways.
Some admin duties will be involved too. This could be anything from cataloguing items and applying for funds and grants, to budget reports and staff management.
What industries employ curators?
Curators can work in lots of industries including hospitality, tourism and conservation. However, the majority are employed in the Arts and Recreation Services, Public Administration, Safety as well as Education and Training. (Source: joboutlook.gov.au)
Do I need to go to university to become a Curator?
Yes, you’ll need a formal undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in a related field to make you eligible to apply for positions as a Curator.
Where do Curators work?
Curated exhibitions are most commonly found in galleries and museums, but you could also be working with displays in a range of other locations, including zoos and aquariums, your local council building, hospital, or university. You might be working on projects in any number of public spaces such as parks, gardens or historical sites, retail areas, or hospitality venues. You could even be setting up exhibitions in disused shop fronts, abandoned storage areas, at the beach or in a residential home – it really depends on your role.
What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Curator?
If you’re at high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Curator is right for you and start learning skills and gaining experience, here’s a few things you could try:
- Study exhibitions in detail, look at the lighting, interactive elements, information available. Talk to curators and start to develop your own ideas and style.
- Ask school if you can be the curator of an exhibition and make a portfolio of your work.
- Volunteer at your local exhibition spaces, sign up for any experience days and workshops, or ask them for a work experience placement.