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An engineering qualification teaches you so much more than just the technical subjects, but a way of looking at the world and solving problems in a logical and systematic way.

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Occupation Details

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Curator - Museum/Art Gallery

Job Zone

Education
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€25k >  
Curator/Keeper (Museum/Art Gallery)
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€25 -  
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
FAS

Last Updated: March, 2011

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Responsibile for building-up and documenting museum collections and developing ways in which objects, archives and artworks can be interpreted, through exhibitions, publications, events and presentations.


The Work header image

Museum/art gallery curators, sometimes known as keepers, are in charge of a collection of exhibits in a museum or art gallery. 

The job of the curator is to build up museum collections, often in specialist areas. Curators document collections and develop ways in which objects, archives and artworks can be interpreted, through exhibitions, publications, events and audio-visual presentations. All these tasks require curators to work with other colleagues, in conservation, education, design and marketing departments, for example.

In large museums, they manage specialist departments. They may co-ordinate and supervise the work of other teams including junior curators, conservators and attendants.

In a small museum, the curator may supervise the whole collection and lead a small team. Curators know how to clean and handle exhibits. They must also be sufficiently versed in the ethics of conservation to be able to supervise the work of conservation and restoration staff.

Curators have to maintain their existing permanent collection. This involves identifying, registering and cataloguing objects. Curators look after the budget for their department and buy new exhibits. They also organise staff training.

In many museums and art galleries, especially small ones, curators deal with the public. They liaise with local interest groups, organise lectures, and publicise events.

To arrange an exhibition, curators choose which objects to display and organise the loan of exhibits from other collections if they need to. They also organise the transportation, insurance and storage of objects. Curators make sure that objects are displayed in a clear and attractive way. They also co-ordinate, and in many cases, write and compile exhibition catalogues and the texts that accompany exhibits. Large museums or galleries often employ education officers to involve schools or promote tourism. Curators may liaise with them to produce slides, work sheets and demonstrations.

Many curators carry out research. Their research usually depends on their specialist interests and their collection. Many curators publish the results of their research.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Clean objects, such as paper, textiles, wood, metal, glass, rock, pottery, and furniture, using cleansers, solvents, soap solutions, and polishes.

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Determine whether objects need repair and choose the safest and most effective method of repair.

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Install, arrange, assemble, and prepare artifacts for exhibition, ensuring the artifacts' safety, reporting their status and condition, and identifying and correcting any problems with the set-up.

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Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff in the handling, mounting, care, and storage of art objects.

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Perform tests and examinations to establish storage and conservation requirements, policies, and procedures.

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Prepare artifacts for storage and shipping.

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Photograph objects for documentation.

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Coordinate exhibit installations, assisting with design, constructing displays, dioramas, display cases, and models, and ensuring the availability of necessary materials.

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Notify superior when restoration of artifacts requires outside experts.

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Lead tours and teach educational courses to students and the general public.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Handling and Moving Objects:  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

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Thinking Creatively:  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work:  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings:  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

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Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People:  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

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Documenting/Recording Information:  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

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Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships:  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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English Language:  Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Chemistry:  Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

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Fine Arts:  Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

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History and Archeology:  Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.

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Administration and Management:  Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Writing:   Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Monitoring:   Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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Speaking:   Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

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Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

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Social Perceptiveness:   Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

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Active Learning:   Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

A curator needs to have a high level of knowledge of the subject/s covered by the museum collection for which he/she is responsible. Management skills in both financial and human resource areas are essential for holders of senior posts.

Good communication skills and an aptitude for team working are also essential.


Entry Routesheader image

Recruitment to curatorial positions in museums is nearly always at graduate level, and an honours degree and postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject is usually required.

Degree areas that relate to museum collections are a good starting points from which to build a museum career.

Subjects such as history, art history, archaeology, natural sciences and anthropology are typical of many employees working in museums. Universities and higher education colleges countrywide offer numerous courses and some provide distance-learning.

Check the Services Directory section of the IMA website and search for 'Training' for a full list of opportunities.

Placements, Internships, Volunteering

Some schools and colleges make arrangements with museums, galleries and other venues, for undergraduate/graduate students to go on placements and gain work experience. This is an invaluable way to find out the type of work that takes place in museums and whether you might like a job in this area. 

Qualified school leavers can find work in museums as gallery attendants or shop staff. But for any type of specialist work, it is necessary to have a degree, or a museum/heritage diploma, and potentially, post-graduate qualifications.

Graduate opportunities

The museum sector is becoming increasingly professionalised and there are graduate and post graduate programmes available both in Ireland and abroad, combining both campus based and distance learning options.

Some museums and galleries in Ireland and overseas offer graduate internship programmes of between three months and a year. Most of these training programmes are unpaid and cover many different roles within the museum. In general, interested applicants must make an application in writing to the museum, usually followed by an interview. Individual museum websites carry details of their internships and application procedures. Volunteering: an excellent way to gain experience in the museum environment (and support your local museum!) is to volunteer your time. Some institutions have formal programmes through which you may volunteer as a museum docent, visitor services assistant, or other roles. Others accept informal enquiries as to volunteer opportunities.

Graduate Programmes specialising in museum studies include:

UCD (MA in Cultural Policy & Arts Management)

WIT (MA in Arts & Heritage Management)

Last Updated: November, 2016


Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

Note: you will be leaving the CareersPortal Site

Go..Art Gallery Curator - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Art gallery manager - from:  GradIreland
Go..Associate Curator - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Curator - from:  GradIreland
Go..Curator Team Leader - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..Museum Assistant - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Museum Curator - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Museum education officer - from:  GradIreland

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Public Appointments Service
  Address: Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
  Tel: (01) 858 7400 or Locall: 1890 44 9999
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: The Arts Council of Ireland
  Address: 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 618 0200 CallSave 1850 392492
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: National Museum of Ireland
  Address: Kildare Street, Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 677 7444
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Irish Museums Association
  Address: 11, Parnell Square East, Dublin, 1
  Tel: (01) 873 4216
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

 

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