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Art gallery curator

Art gallery curators manage collections of paintings and objects.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually work as an assistant curator, conservator, or education manager before becoming a curator.

Paid or unpaid work experience in a gallery, museum or heritage property is essential.

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

A postgraduate qualification in museum and gallery studies, or in a particular style or period of art, might also be useful.

The Museums Association has more information on becoming an art gallery curator.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good organisational skills
  • the ability to manage people and resources
  • a careful approach and a high level of attention to detail
  • IT skills
  • creative flair for devising displays and exhibitions
  • a good standard of written English

3. What you'll do

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
You might also be responsible for supervising or managing staff, or organising insurance, security or publicity.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £25,000 (assistant)

Experienced: £25,000 and £35,000

Highly Experienced: up to £40,000

Your salary will depend on whether you work for a large national gallery or a smaller local one. 

If you work for a private gallery, you’ll often get a basic salary with commission on sales. 

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work around 37 hours a week, with some weekends and evenings. 

You may have to do some lifting and carrying, like moving crates and boxes of exhibits or paintings.

6. 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.

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Last updated: 14 December 2016