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Gallery or museum curator

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Summary of occupation

Gallery or museum curators research, plan, organise and manage exhibitions of art, antiques, fossils and other cultural artefacts in art galleries, museums and other places that celebrate cultural heritage. They acquire and care for the items in their organisation's collection, examine them to determine their condition, authenticity and value, arrange them for display in exhibitions and showings, and maintain records about their collections. They also liaise with historians, conservators and other experts about the best way to preserve and maintain the pieces in their care.

ANZSCO description: Plans and organises a gallery or museum collection by drafting collection policies and arranging acquisitions of pieces.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Gallery Curator, Museum Curato, Museum Education Officer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A gallery or museum curator needs:

  • a passion for art or history
  • planning and organisational skills
  • an eye for detail and creative flair
  • patience and a methodical approach to their work
  • strong written and oral communication skills
  • the ability to undertake research and academically-focussed work.
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Working conditions

Gallery and museum curators work in art spaces, galleries, museums, tourist attractions and community arts centres, and generally undertake a portion of their time working in the offices and storerooms of these facilities. Curators deal with artwork and antiques or other valuable items that need to be handled with care, and may require security. They work regular hours but may be required to work longer hours during exhibitions, or openings. Curators may travel locally, interstate or internationally to view and acquire pieces for their collections, or to attend conferences. Gallery and museum curators may find themselves working in small community historical museums, private museums and galleries in tourist regions, or in the State gallery or museum in Perth.

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Salary details

On average, archivists, curators and records managers can expect to earn between $1 250 and $1 499 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year) depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a gallery or museum curator develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Gallery and museum curators handle and deal with artworks and other cultural materials and historical artefacts. They use reference materials such as books, slides and the Internet, and also need to know how to use computers and other office equipment such as phones, photocopiers, and faxes. Curators may also use audio-visual and multimedia equipment such as players, screens and computer programs in order to create interactive museum or gallery displays.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a gallery or museum curator you usually need to complete an arts or science degree majoring in a relevant area such as anthropology and sociology, archaeology or fine art, followed by a postgraduate qualification in curatorial studies.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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