Art gallery curators manage collections of paintings and objects.

What does an art gallery curator do?

An art gallery curator's work would 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

This role may also be responsible for supervising or managing staff or other tasks, such as insurance, security and publicity.

What do I need to do to become an art gallery curator?

To work in an art gallery you should have a keen interest in art. You should have good organisational skills. You’ll also need strong communication and people skills.

To do this job you would usually need a degree in a relevant subject, such as art or art history.​ You could start work as an assistant curator, conservator or education manager before becoming a curator.

To work in these areas, you would usually need a degree in a relevant subject, such as art or art history. Many curators also have a postgraduate qualification. Postgraduate study offers an opportunity to specialise in topics, such as museum and gallery studies, or in a particular style or period of art.

As gallery work is a competitive field, gaining experience through volunteering or an internship is usually essential. You could approach galleries, museums or heritage properties directly to see if they have any opportunities for work experience. Some also offer traineeships. 

The Museums Association (MA) website has lots of useful information about volunteering and internship opportunities.

You can also find contact details for over 2,000 institutions in the Museums & Galleries Yearbook, published by the MA. You may be able to get access to a copy in any main library.

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Literacy
  • Organisation
  • People management

Desirable qualifications

  • A degree in a relevant subject, such as art or art history
  • A relevant postgraduate qualification

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You might work in galleries ranging from large public sector and national institutions, such as the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, to very small independent galleries. Many universities also have galleries, and some large companies employ curators for their art collections. Competition for jobs is strong. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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