Becoming an Art Curator in Australia

In the art world, a curator is someone who selects and interprets different artwork. From statues, video art, paintings and tapestries, a curator needs to write labels, catalogue essays and conduct other content supporting art exhibitions.

Art curators need to have an eye for the different forms of art along with a passion for staging the artwork in such a way that creates interest within the exhibition space. This can be anything from four walls, small or large or even stepping for the outdoors.


Art curator responsibilities and duties

As part of the regular tasks and responsibilities, the art curator will perform the following:

  • two art pieces hanging on the wallDevelop, plan and carry out exhibitions
  • Research objects and document authentication and identification
  • Manage collections by cataloguing artwork and recording it in collections
  • Write exhibition proposals and acquisitions
  • Plan installations of artwork and plan presentations
  • Create labels and materials for the artwork
  • Train museum staff on exhibitions information and presentation
  • Play active roles within the art community, publish research to journals and books
  • Have in-depth knowledge of the exhibitions and collections that they manage
  • Develop and oversee the educational programs and make plans to get donors for their organisations


The salary of an art curator

The yearly salary of an art curator in Australia

Bottom 10% is less than $27,000

Median annual salary is more than $53, 780

The top 10% yearly salary is more than $86,000

Curators who get employed at historical sites, museums and similar will often earn an average salary that is on the lower part of the scale. If you are working in a National Gallery, you can make a median wage up to the higher end.


Education, Training, and Certification

The position involves having an understanding of art and knowledge about the field, typically coming from a university degree in Australia.

Most curator positions will require you to have a master’s degree in museology or art history. You may get away with just a bachelors degree in art history if you are working for a small organisation.

The larger art companies like The National Gallery of Victoria will often want you to have a doctorate or masters within art history. The coursework needs to have a focus on art history and the different periods and styles of art.

You will be considered for employment by the larger organisations if you have had at least three years’ experience doing work in a gallery or museum environment.


Competencies and skills

Along with the right education, the candidates should possess the following skills in order to perform the best at their job:

A well-trained eye: You must be able to make good quality selections of art that are to get displayed in a gallery or museum.

Exhibition skills: Having skills in this area is vital for organising art exhibitions in public spaces or galleries.

Research skills: This job requires you to research artists and collect different information about the numerous works of art.

Writing skills: A curator needs to produce writings that go with different artwork.


The Working Environment

Depending on how big the organisation is you are working for, you may be working at a desk or spending most of the working day out on the floor talking to visitors. Your job may involve lifting heavy artwork and climbing ladders or even dealing with scaffolding if you are working in a restoration project. You may even find yourself travelling around to different art storage locations, visiting budding artists, or working with exhibition showcase services to ensure artworks are stored and shipped properly.


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