Museum Curator

A museum or gallery curator can have responsibility for all aspects of the maintenance, care, management, promotion and development of a museum or specific exhibitions or collections within a museum.  The job can be very wide ranging, from acquiring and caring for works of art or artefacts, maintaining records, promoting permanent or temporary exhibitions, developing education programmes, developing collaborative partnerships, fundraising, etc.  There can be staff management responsibilities as well as budget management. 

Work Environment
The work mostly takes place in the museum itself, but curators often go out to other venues to promote educational activity, develop collaborative relationships, to acquire artefacts or works of art, encourage tourism, etc.

The hours are usually standard at 37 hours per week and can involve weekend and bank holiday work when exhibitions are being prepared and held.

Daily Activities
The specific responsibilities of a curator will vary depending on the size and type of museum.  Duties could include:

  • sourcing artefacts or works of art for display in the museum;
  • ensuring that acquisitions are catalogued and maintaining records;
  • undertaking research and identification to establish authenticity and provide as much information as possible about artefacts;
  • taking responsibility for the care and safety of all objects and collections ensuring proper and adequate storage and / or display;
  • implementing environmental monitoring of the stored and displayed collections;
  • identifying objects in need of remedial conservation and sourcing funding for this;
  • displaying objects to ensure that they are accessible and meaningful to visitors to the museum;
  • planning, organising and interpreting exhibitions;
  • ensuring high levels of customer care and safety;
  • developing and overseeing educational programmes and organising outreach events;
  • marketing the museum and exhibitions and dealing with press and public queries;
  • managing budgets and sourcing funding;
  • managing any staff, including recruitment, conduct, managing performance, training, etc;
  • liaising with partnership organisations, volunteer groups, trustees, etc;
  • networking with other museum professionals and negotiating loan materials.

Skills & Interests
Curators will have:

  • an interest in and knowledge of a relevant subject;
  • experience of working within a museum;
  • good interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing;
  • research skills;
  • ICT literacy;
  • experience of managing and leading people;
  • creativity;
  • ability to project manage;
  • influencing and negotiating skills.

Entry Requirements
Curators are normally graduates, and although subjects such as history, history of art, museum or heritage studies can be the most obvious choices, curators can also come from a wide range of academic backgrounds and it can be helpful to have a qualification in specific areas of expertise, so for instance archaeology, classical studies, ancient history, etc.

A number of UK universities offer relevant degree and postgraduate courses in subjects such as Museum Studies, Conservation of Objects in Museums and Design for Exhibition and Museums.

Pre-entry experience in museum work often obtained on a voluntary or internship basis is essential.  The Museums Association ( provides details on volunteering opportunities available throughout the UK and including Wales. 

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Most towns and cities have museums and job opportunities will depend on size. Larger museums employ a wide range of staff from marketing and fundraising staff, designers, craftsmen, curators, conservationists, managers, technicians, etc. Smaller museums may only employ one or two people.  The Museums Association provides guidance in relation to professional development. 

Further Information & Services
Association of Art Historians
Creative and Cultural Industries
Museums Association

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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