Tips for a Curator

Want to get up close and personal with art? You can as a curator.

Want to get up close and personal with art? You can as a curator.

For some people, it’s the uncommon opportunity to get personal with works of art or valuable artifacts. For others, it’s the chance to share these things with the public and to educate people on their value and significance. Whatever it is that draws you to become a curator, you will likely find that busting into this dream job isn’t easy. To land the curatorial job that you dreamed about as you trolled the art museum as a child, you will have to dedicate yourself to the task. Whether you find the financial rewards -- $42,310 annually, on average, as of 2010 – handsome or not, becoming a curator will give you the chance to captivate, amaze and educate -- likely making the effort to obtain the job worthwhile.

Be Ready to Move

Curatorial jobs can be difficult to come by. If you have your heart set on overseeing the running of a museum or art gallery, you may have to move to turn this dream into a reality. While some states have a relatively large number of curatorial jobs -- New York was home to 1,040 employed curators as of May 2011, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- others are exceptionally curator light. Nevada, for example, was home to between only 30 and 70 curators, according to the same data source. Because of the overall sparseness of jobs in this field, moving may be a must, so be prepared.

Start Small

When you first dip your toes into the pool of curating, you almost certainly won’t land a job at your favorite prestigious museum. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, most curators start their careers at small, regional locations and work their way up to the big leagues. If you hold out, expecting to start off in that A-List job, you will likely find that your unrealistic expectations leave you struggling to obtain the gainful employment you seek.

Ship Carefully

As a curator, you are responsible for the art or artifacts that come in and out of your museum from the moment you requisition them to the second they reach their next display location. Don’t relegate package preparation or shipping to interns or secretarial staff. Instead, use your expertise to carefully pack up any items you will ship and keep a constant eye on the shipper's tracking information to ensure that you catch any errors and reduce the likelihood that irreplaceable items get lost in transit. A lost or damaged artifact will mean a big black blot on your reputation.

Get in Shape

When you picture a curator, you may not immediately imagine a fit-as-a-fiddle individual; however, the nature of a curatorial job makes it vital that you are in good physical condition and possess stamina. Particularly in outdoor museums -- or large indoor ones -- curators will be called upon to walk great distances every day. If you aren’t up to the task, you won’t be able to make the rounds you must to ensure that everything is prepared and perfect.

 

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images