Museum Work

Museum Work

(Positions advertised on the website of the American Alliance of Museums; in the CAA Career Center).

Jobs regularly advertised in the museum field include curator (of collections, of exhibitions, of collections and exhibitions, of education; of specific subject areas such as sculpture, painting, decorative arts, fashion design, etc.), development officer, director, exhibit designer, project developer, and registrar. Some of these positions may overlap in smaller museums. Basic experience can be acquired by college students through museum internships. These are often advertised in the sources named above.

A. Administration

Requirements include:

1. B.A.; M.A. in Museum Studies or Arts Administration and a Ph.D. for top positions (director). An M.B.A. or some graduate-level work in business administration also can be useful.

2. Knowledge of foreign languages not essential

3. Little or no research, except for fund-raising

4. Some to maximum involvement with people (including potential donors)

5. Business skills normally useful, including clerical skills

6. Grant-writing skills

B. Conservation (see careers IX & X below)

C. Curatorial

Requirements include:

1. Ph.D. in Art History (although an M.A. also may be acceptable, depending on the institution)

2. Reading knowledge of appropriate languages 

3. Good verbal and writing skills

4. Research orientation (a curator may start out as a research assistant)

5. Some involvement with people, ability to collaborate

6. Connoisseurship skills necessary for selecting works of art for purchase (at auction, from art galleries)

7. Depending on the size of the museum, familiarity with conservation practices, exhibition design and installation, grant writing (etc.) may be required as well

D. Education

Requirements include:

1. M.A. in art history (possibly with a BFA, if studio instruction included)

2. Reading and speaking knowledge of some languages (such as Spanish), especially in a museum serving an ethnically diverse audience

3. Some research, depending on the level of the audience

4. Maximum involvement with people of diverse ages (children, adults)

5. Good communication skills (verbal and written)

6. Good organization skills

E. Exhibition design and/or installation

Requirements include:

1. B.A.; an M.A. also may be helpful (also training in fine and graphic arts: some jobs even may require a BFA or design degree)

2. Knowledge of foreign languages not essential

3. Little or no research

4. Some involvement with people

5. Some artistic training and mechanical skills (including experience in handling works of art)

F. Registrar 

Requirements include:

1. B.A. in art history; an M.A. also may be required

2. Some reading knowledge of foreign languages may be useful

3. Good computer skills (data entry, working with digital images, etc.)

4. Accuracy, detail-oriented

5. Knowledge of proper storage and handling of works of art

6. Familiarity with conservation practices

G. Reproductions and retailing

Requirements include:

1. B.A.

2. Knowledge of foreign languages not essential

3. No research except perhaps in legal areas

4. Some to maximum involvement with people

5. Business, clerical, and communication skills usually are necessary

6. This area can include everything from working in a museum sales shop to overseeing the selection, production, and marketing of museum reproductions. Persons involved with the latter aspect should have some familiarity with copyright law and artists' rights, though this knowledge could be acquired on the job. Some design skills also could be useful.