Is becoming a curator right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a curator is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a curator or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become a Curator
Becoming a curator typically requires a combination of education, experience, and networking within the field of art, history, or a related discipline. Here are the general steps you can follow to pursue a career as a curator:
- Obtain a relevant bachelor's degree: Start by earning a bachelor's degree in a field such as art history, museum studies, archaeology, anthropology, or another related subject. This will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge in the field.
- Pursue a master's degree: Although not always required, a master's degree in a relevant field can greatly enhance your prospects for becoming a curator. Consider earning a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in art history, museum studies, or a specialized curatorial program. These programs often provide practical experience and internships that can be valuable for building your skills and network.
- Gain relevant experience: Seek out opportunities to gain hands-on experience in museums, galleries, or other cultural institutions. Look for internships, volunteer positions, or entry-level jobs that allow you to work closely with collections, exhibitions, or curatorial projects. This experience will demonstrate your practical skills and dedication to the field.
- Develop specialized knowledge: Curators often specialize in specific areas or disciplines, such as contemporary art, ancient history, or a particular culture. Develop expertise in your chosen area through additional coursework, research, and attending conferences or workshops.
- Build a professional network: Networking is crucial in the art and museum field. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with other curators, scholars, and professionals in the field. Networking can lead to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship.
- Apply for curatorial positions: Once you have gained sufficient education and experience, start applying for curatorial positions in museums, galleries, or cultural institutions. Keep an eye on job boards, museum websites, and professional organizations' listings for openings. Tailor your application materials, including your resume and cover letter, to highlight your relevant experience and expertise.
- Continuously learn and grow: Curatorial work is an ongoing process of learning and staying up-to-date with developments in your field. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to expand your knowledge and keep abreast of current trends and best practices.
As a curator, there are several helpful resources you can utilize to enhance your knowledge, stay updated with industry trends, and connect with other professionals. Here are some key resources:
- American Alliance of Museums (AAM): AAM is a leading professional organization for museum and cultural professionals in the United States. They offer resources, professional development opportunities, and access to a network of curators and museum experts. Their website provides valuable information on best practices, standards, and career resources.
- College Art Association (CAA): CAA is an organization dedicated to advancing the visual arts and supporting professionals in the field. They offer resources, conferences, publications, and job listings relevant to curators, art historians, and educators. Their website provides access to journals, guidelines, and a network of art professionals.
- Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC): AAMC is an organization that supports curators and strives to promote the profession of curating. They offer professional development programs, conferences, mentorship opportunities, and a platform for networking and knowledge sharing. Their website provides access to resources, guidelines, and a job board.
- Smithsonian Institution: The Smithsonian Institution is a renowned network of museums and research centers in the United States. Their website offers a wealth of information, research materials, and educational resources. Exploring their collections, exhibitions, and publications can be highly beneficial for curators seeking inspiration and expanding their knowledge.
- Museum websites and publications: Many museums have their own websites that provide valuable resources for curators. Explore websites of renowned museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery of Art. Additionally, subscribe to museum publications like Artforum, ARTnews, and Museum magazine to stay informed about the latest trends, exhibitions, and research.
- Online platforms and communities: Engage with online platforms and communities focused on curatorial practice. Websites like Curatorspace offer opportunities for curators to connect with exhibition spaces and find open calls for curatorial projects. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can also be valuable for networking, following curatorial conversations, and discovering new opportunities.