The Art Museum Curator
Handling rare works of art. Rubbing elbows with the rich. World travel. Sound like your perfect glamour job? At its best, the career of art museum curator can be the embodiment of an art enthusiastís dream but thereís a practical side to the job and some hard work as well.
Art museum curators search for, acquire and exhibit works of art. When those works of art are not currently on exhibit, curators ensure that they are documented and stored appropriately. In the process of preparing works of art for exhibition, the art museum curator oversees the restoration of works of art if necessary and typically coordinates educational programs for the public.
More than just an interest in art is required for a career as an art museum curator. Most positions require a masterís degree in art history or museum studies and many require a doctoral degree. Few schools offer degrees in museology but a degree in art history often suffices. Continuing education, available through meetings, workshops and conferences, enables curators to keep up with new developments in the world of art.
Knowledge of art conservation and restoration is extremely desirable to an art museum curator. Art museums want to ensure the longevity of their current collections and can do so by choosing appropriate display techniques and storage environments. New art acquisitions are often in need of repair before they can be presented to the public either because they are too fragile in their distressed state to endure exhibition or because accumulated dirt and grime obscure the beauty of the artwork.
Since the art museum curator will have many administrative duties, knowledge in the areas of business administration, public relations and marketing are valuable. An awareness of computer information systems is also useful since computer databases are often used for catalogues and most art museums maintain websites as a means of presenting their collections and educational materials to the public. Knowledge of copyright law is also useful, particularly with the danger of copyright infringement that is possible when art images are made available to the public over the Internet.
Art museum curators who work for large institutions may travel extensively in search of artwork to increase their collections and participation in gala fundraisers and member previews can be quite glamorous. But for smaller institutions, travel is often rare and the focus is on maintaining current holdings and dispersing information to the public. And smaller institutions must often find more creative ways of raising funds when the budget is limited.
In large institutions, curators may advance through several tiers of management and can eventually rise to the position of art museum director. As would be expected, curators of small museums often rise to become curators of large museums. Unfortunately for those seeking employment as art museum curators, positions are scarce and often unavailable unless another curator steps down. Nevertheless, those few with an interest in art history who pursue the career of art museum curator often find it extremely rewarding and well worth the dedication and hard work required to be successful in this career.
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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
You can see Diana's own artwork by visiting her site at www.dianablake.net.