What does a Curator do?
The work of a Curator typically involves the following:
- Acquire, store, and exhibit collections
- Select the theme and design of exhibits
- Develop or set up exhibit materials
- Design, organize, or conduct tours and workshops for the public
- Attend meetings and civic events to promote the institution
- Clean objects using cleansers, solvents, and soap solutions
- Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff
- Plan and conduct special research projects.
Many objects and documents are important or historically significant. Curators preserve and organize the display of these materials.
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.
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