How to become a Museum Curator

Museum curators look after, manage, organise, display and develop museum collections, and conduct related research.

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. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. 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 may perform the following tasks:

  • 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:

$1,440

Future growth:

very strong growth

Employment by state:

ACT 8.2%

NSW 23.4%

NT 2.8%

QLD 16.7%

SA 8.3%

TAS 2.2%

VIC 31.9%

WA 6.6%

Hours worked:

35.7

Unemployment:

average

Gender split:

Proportion of male workers 22.7%

Proportion of female workers 77.3%

Education level:

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 10: 0%

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 12: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is secondary school: 0%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 14.6%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 22%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 30.5%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 32.9%

Age bracket:

Proprortion of workers aged below 35 years: 22.4%

Proportion of workers aged above 35 years: 76.3%

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

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