Art gallery curator

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Art gallery curators manage collections of paintings and objects.

Salary range: £18,000 to £40,000

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How to become an art gallery curator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • artistic reputation
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University

You’ll often need a degree in a relevant subject like fine art or art history.

You might also find it useful to have a postgraduate qualification in museum and gallery studies, or in a particular style or period of art.

Paid or unpaid work experience in a gallery, museum or heritage property is usually essential to apply for courses and jobs.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing an advanced apprenticeship in heritage and cultural operations.

This could lead into gallery assistant or gallery educator jobs. With further training and several years’ experience, you could apply for curator roles.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Work

You could work as an assistant curator, conservator or education manager before becoming a gallery curator.

Other routes

You may be invited to guest curate a gallery, if you’re an artist with an established reputation in the art world.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Museums Association for professional development and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming an art gallery curator from the Museums Association and Creative Choices.

You can also find out more about working in related careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • researching, identifying and cataloguing paintings and other items
  • making sure paintings and other items are stored in the right conditions
  • organising displays and exhibitions
  • answering visitors’ questions
  • giving talks to groups or school parties
  • finding ways of attracting visitors to the gallery
  • negotiating funding and the loan of paintings and other items

Working environment

You could work in a museum or at an art gallery.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

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Career path and progression

You could work in galleries ranging from very small independent galleries to large public sector and national institutions, like the National or Tate Gallery.

You could also work in a university gallery, or curate large companies’ collections.

You would usually have more opportunities for promotion if you worked in a large gallery.