Making a career as art curator in today’s world isn’t a herculean task. Art curators are employed by museums and art galleries to design, develop and manage installations and exhibits. This requires them to acquire works of art, ensure proper storage and help maintain museum collections. Art curators typically specialize in specific areas of art, like Western, Asian or contemporary art.
What does an Art Curator do?
The job duties of a curator are vast. They may put on public events like lectures and workshops, write grants and conduct fundraising activities. In addition, they conduct research projects and write papers for publication. Often, museum directors double as art curators, particularly in small institutions with few staff members Because of the vast set of job duties, the job skills required for art curators are broad.
To become an art curator, you generally need an undergraduate and graduate degree in or related to art history. Experience in an internship can also be beneficial to gaining entry-level employment with a museum or arts organization.
The first step toward a career as an art curator is completing undergraduate school. Aspiring curators typically major in a variety of different undergraduate disciplines, like art history or archaeology, prior to applying to graduate schools. No specific degree field is required, though a strong liberal arts background and coursework in art history are often necessary. For example, art history majors receive a broad education in the subject and study a wide range of periods and styles of art and architecture, such as Greek art, Medieval art, Italian and Baroque art, 19th and 20th century art, graphic design, and art and gender. Because art curators are responsible for managing a budget and coordinating fundraising efforts, undergraduates may find it helpful to take coursework in business, math and English.
Once you’ve completed undergraduate school, you may move on to graduate school. Employers generally prefer to hire art curators with either a master’s or a doctoral degree in art history, which generally allows students to specialize in a specific geographic area or type of art, like 20th century art, American art, drawing or sculpture.
A graduate degree typically requires a completion of a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation, as well as a minimum proficiency level in one or more foreign languages. Aspiring art curators can also earn a graduate degree in museum studies, which teaches students about museum management, collection development and conservation.
- Organized: In addition to working with art and artists, increasingly curators need to work on administrative tasks, such as figuring out exhibition budgets, fundraising, and grant writing.
- Passionate: The most successful curators have always had a passion for art and care about the art they exhibit.
- Knowledgeable: Curators need to be knowledgeable in art and culture. Many art curators have an educational background in art history and philosophy.
- Adept at Multi-Tasking: Today’s art curators need to multi-task. They must be skilled in business, marketing, public relations, and fundraising. They also need to be excellent communicators because they often function as the mediator between the museum, artist, and the public.
- Proficient in Writing: Art curators need good composition skills because they are charged with writing the exhibition catalog essays, promotional materials, and any other collateral material that the art establishment deems necessary. This material must be accurate in regards to the individual art pieces but not be so esoteric that the general public is unable to understand it.
Courses to become Art Curator:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Art/Art History
- Bachelor’s Degree in Art/Art History
- Masters in Art or Art History
- Doctorate in Art or Art History
- MA in Museology
- M.Sc in Museology
Colleges to pursue Art Curation:
- Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
- MSU – Department of Museology, Baroda
- Calcutta University
- Banaras Hindu University
- Jiwaji University, Gwalior
- National Museum Institute, Delhi
- Ewing Christian College, Allahabad
- Osmania University, Hyderabad
- Solapur University, Maharashtra
- Punjab University
- University of Hyderabad
Entry-level art curators may have their best chance of employment in a museum or arts organization in a smaller community. This environment allows new art curators to develop primary skills and experience, which can qualify you for employment at a large museum. Art curators can also advance in the field by conducting research and publishing their work.
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