How to become a Museum Curator

Museum curators look after, manage, organise, display and develop museum collections, and conduct related research. Museum curators usually specialise in a broad discipline, such as anthropology, art, decorative arts, natural history, social history, science or technology. Within that discipline they are generally recognised as authorities on one or more specific subject areas.

Personal requirements of a Museum Curator

  • Appreciation of the history of science, the environment or the arts
  • Patient
  • Able to pay attention to detail
  • An objective, methodical approach to work
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • A good imagination
  • Aptitude for research

Education & Training for a Museum Curator

To become a museum curator you usually have to complete an arts or science degree at university with a major in a relevant area, such as anthropology, archaeology, fine arts, history, cultural studies, astronomy, biology or environmental science (preferably at honours level), followed by a postgraduate qualification in museum studies, curatorship or cultural heritage management. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree and may require previous museum experience. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Museum Curator

Museum curators:

  • acquire items for the collections in their care
  • examine items to determine condition and authenticity
  • identify and classify specimens, and arrange conservation and restoration work
  • maintain records about all items in the collection
  • organise and participate in display teams, which may involve travelling or arranging for loan exhibitions, or overseeing the organisation of in-house temporary exhibitions or displays
  • initiate and maintain research and publication programs
  • establish networks and assist other professionals on request
  • lecture and write about collections and answer public enquiries
  • supervise support staff and organise administrative duties associated with the use and care of collections.

Working conditions for a Museum Curator

They generally work indoors in museums and art galleries, but they may be required to travel extensively on field study. In small museums, one curator may be responsible for the management of the entire institution and its collections.

Employment Opportunities for a Museum Curator

Curators may be required to travel to seek work.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,595

Future growth:

Decline

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 5.1%

NSW NSW 24.4%

NT NT 1.7%

QLD QLD 19.3%

SA SA 5.5%

TAS TAS 1.5%

VIC VIC 36.8%

WA WA 5.7%

Hours worked:

34.1

Unemployment:

Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 31.2%

Female 68.8%

Education level:

Age brackets:

15-19 - 3.6%

20-24 - 0.4%

25-34 - 13.5%

35-44 - 31.3%

45-54 - 21.7%

55-59 - 11.1%

60-64 - 11.3%

65 and Over - 7.3%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Related careers