Curator for the USS Constitution Museum, Sarah Watkins, describes the Constitution’s rigging to Secretary of the Navy, Gordon R. England, and British Ambassador, Sir David Manning, during a tour of the museum on¬†June 25, 2004.
Do you love visiting museums? Do you love learning new things and sharing what you learn with others? Then you may enjoy a career working in a museum as a curator. ¬†
The word curator comes from the Latin verb¬†curo, which means “take care of.” A museum curator cares for objects in a museum’s collection, and uses these objects to create a story that educates visitors through museum exhibitions. The role of a curator in a museum can vary widely depending on the size and type of museum. Some museums have many curators working together that specialize in different subjects, like a Photography Curator or Curator of Modern Art at an art museum. ¬†A large museum like the Louve in Paris will have many different curatorial departments. Some smaller museums have only one curator who cares for the entire museum collection. Taking care of a museum collection as a curator includes deciding what new objects the museum should add to their collection, researching objects in the museum, deciding how objects should be displayed in the museum, and what visitors should know about the objects.
Museum curators can be found at many different types of museums, including art museums, science museums, and history museums.¬†
The educational background you need to be a museum curator depends on the kind of museum that you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in an art museum you will need to study art and art history. To be a museum curator, you will usually need to earn a bachelor’s degree related to the field you want to specialize in. Some museum curators also earn a degree in Museum Studies or Museology. Many museum curators also have masters and doctoral degrees. Before being hired as a curator, you will need experience working in a museum. A great way to gain museum experience is by volunteering or interning. You can learn more about what it would be like to work for different museums around the world from the International Council of Museums, or ICOM.
If you want to start to learn more about museums, find out how a museum near you is celebrating ICOM’s International Museum Day on May 18th. ¬†According to ICOM, “This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society.”
A number of major museums have fun interactive websites just for kids that let you learn more about the museum. These include the Smithsonian, the Getty, the American Museum of Natural History, the British Museum, and the Australian Museum.¬†On the websites of some museums, such as the Whitney, you can even practice “curating” your own collection based on objects from the museum.
Girl Museum Inc.