What Does a Museum Curator Do?

Museum CuratorWorking as a museum curator requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and may require a graduate degree, which is why it’s important that you look at what a museum curator does before deciding that this is the right career path for you. Curators often spend long hours working on their own and away from others, but they also spend some time in the spotlight as well. Some museums require that curators meet with patrons, give lectures and talks and speak with those interested in making donations. There are a number of different duties and tasks associated with this career.

Obtain New Collections

One important part of what a museum curator does deals with new collections. Museums of all types must obtain new artifacts and collections to keep exhibits fresh and patrons interested. Though some curators will find that the owners of those artifacts come to them, others will find that they need to form connections and relationships that will lead to those donations. Curators often stay informed about new auctions and bid on items that would work well for the museums where they work.

Design New Exhibits

After curators receive new pieces, they need to design exhibits that will make use of those pieces in an effective way. They might rearrange artifacts currently on display or remove some of those pieces to make room for the new donations. Curators also use their research skills and familiarity with historical topics to find ways to make pieces work together. Many museums have large plaques and signs up that talk about the items on display and where those pieces came from. Curators are the ones responsible for creating those signs and ensuring that visitors remain informed.

Offer Appraisals

If you watch any type of reality show that deals with the buying and selling of historical objects, you might see curators on the screen. Museum curators often have familiarity with one specific type of object or a specific time period. Some specialize in ancient antiquities, but curators may also have familiarity with a specific type of artwork, a type of history or a certain region of the world. They offer appraisals for those who want to know more about the value of a specific object, but they are also responsible for appraising the donations the museum received for insurance purposes.

Conserve and Preserve

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, conservation and preservation efforts are two of the more important parts of what a museum curator does. Even the largest of museums cannot possibly display all the items obtained and donated over the years. Museums often have storerooms filled with hundreds of artifacts that curators display off and on and put back in storage when showcasing special collections and displays. Curators are the ones responsible for conserving and preserving those objects to ensure that each piece remains in display worthy condition. They use archival paper, white gloves, dust-free boxes and other objects to carefully wrap and preserve each artifact.

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In addition to these duties, museum curators may also give lectures, lead tours and host fundraising events to raise more money for a museum. They need to have strong communication skills and the ability to work independently. Looking at what a museum curator does will give you a better understanding of the career and if it meets your career goals.