Museum Curator

Museum curators oversee museum collections by managing the acquisition, preservation and display of museum artifacts. They may conduct instructional, research, or public service activities of institution.


Sample of Reported Job Title

Curator, Museum Curator, Collections Curator, Associate Curator, Collections Manager, Curator of Collections, Curator of Education, Exhibitions Curator, Exhibits Curator



Curators manage museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, nature centers, and historic sites. The museum director often is a curator. Curators direct the acquisition, storage, and exhibit of collections, including negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange, or loan of collections. They also may authenticate, evaluate, and categorize the specimens in a collection.

Curators often oversee and help conduct the institution's research projects and related educational programs.

Today, an increasing part of a curator's duties involves fundraising and promotion, which may include writing and reviewing grant proposals, journal articles, and publicity materials. In addition, many curators attend meetings, conventions, and civic events.

Most curators specialize in a particular field, such as botany, art, or history. Those who work in large institutions may be highly specialized. A large natural history museum, for example, might employ separate curators for its collections of birds, fishes, insects, and mammals.

Some curators take care of their collections, some do research related to items in the collection, and others do administrative tasks. In small institutions with only one or a few curators, one curator may be responsible for a number of tasks, from taking care of collections to directing the affairs of the museum.


Educational Requirements

Most museums require curators to have a master’s degree in an appropriate discipline of the museum’s specialty—art, history, science, or archaeology—or in museum studies. Some employers prefer that curators have a doctoral degree, particularly for positions in natural history or science museums. Earning two graduate degrees—in museum studies (museology) and a specialized subject—may give candidates an advantage in a competitive job market.

In small museums, curator positions may be available to people with a bachelor’s degree. Because curators, particularly those in small museums, may have administrative and managerial responsibilities, courses in business administration, public relations, marketing, and fundraising are recommended. For some positions, applicants need to have completed an internship of full-time museum work, as well as courses in museum practices.


Median Salary (2012)



Want to know more?

O*NET-Museum Curators

Bureau of Labor Statistics-Curators, Museum Technicians, & Conservators


Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

American Alliance of Museums

Collections Management LinkedIn Group

List of Museum Related Organizations

Museums Association LinkedIn Group

List of Professional Organizations

The Career Connector for Purdue College of Science Students & Alumni


Get Experience

American Institute for Conservation

Gaining Experience with Museums Insights

Research & Internship Listings


Find a Job

American Alliance of Museums

American Institute for Conservation

Job Search Sites Related to Your Major

Information about how to get a job as a curator or museum technician with the federal government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the federal government’s official employment information system.


Information retrieved from,

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