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Art Curator: Job Description and Education Requirements

Art curators acquire art collections for organizations like museums and history centers, in addition to organizing and maintaining exhibitions. A graduate degree and work experience is usually required for art curator positions.

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Job Description

Art curators collect art works and organize them for exhibition or storage. They also care for the art, ensure its safety and preserve it. Art curators often work in museums, botanical gardens, zoos, art galleries or historic sites, and they may travel significantly to assess prospective artworks for a collection or organize other exhibitions.

Job Duties

Exhibitions of various art works, which involves displaying and labeling each piece, are designed by art curators. These professionals also conduct public and private tours and showings of art works and instruct educational workshops. Each art piece is carefully maintained by the art curator, who keeps inventory of all the art pieces. This may involve conducting dating tests or X-ray tests to determine the source or originality.

Art curators sometimes travel to various parts of the country or world in search of new art. They meet with directors to determine budgets, negotiate purchase prices and approve payments. Art curators also authorize lending or borrowing art collections from other organizations.

Art curators write and review grant proposals and publicity materials that bring in funding for the art establishment. They also attend events and meetings to bring awareness to the public about the establishment and its current exhibitions.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), curators in general earned a mean annual wage of $55,620 in 2013 (www.bls.gov). The top paying states for art curators were Connecticut, District of Columbia and California. The BLS predicted average job growth of 13% for curators from 2012-2022.

Education Requirements

While a master's degree in art history or a related field is generally required by many museums, educational requirements may vary substantially based on the organization. For example, large institutions may require an applicant to have a doctorate, while small art museums may consider a candidate with a bachelor's degree. Art history coursework usually includes studies in artistic styles, time periods, architecture, photography, painting, sculpture and global markets. Graduate coursework generally requires additional classes in history, theory and curatorial methods, along with research and a dissertation.

Previous work experience is required by most organizations, and students can participate in internships to gain hands-on training working with an experienced art curator. Additionally, expertise in restoration methods, chemistry and public relations can be beneficial for aspiring art curators, as well as technological skills for digital record keeping and information dissemination via the Internet. Having knowledge in marketing, business and a foreign language also can make art curator candidates more attractive to employers.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Colorado (1 campus)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • BFA in Art Education
        • BFA in Undeclared
        • BFA - Fine Art
        • BFA in Art Education - Sculpture
        • BFA in Fine Art - Painting
        • BFA in Art Education - Painting
    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate in 3D Animation - Character Animation
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    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
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    • Virginia (3)
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Florida (1 campus)
    • Texas (1)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
        • Painting
        • Sculpture
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Virginia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Mason University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Arts Management
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Florida State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Oregon (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Oregon include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
        • Ceramics
        • Metal and Jewelry Art
        • Multimedia Arts
        • Painting
        • Printmaking
        • Sculpture
        • Weaving and Textile Arts
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Kentucky include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at DePaul University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • South Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at College of Charleston include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art History
        • Arts Management
      • Musical Arts

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