As spaces that spark learning, reflection, and imagination, museums can be wonderful places to visit. Behind the visitor experience, though, there is a vast network of museum professionals who work hard to secure artifacts, create exhibitions, and engage the community. If you are interested in working at a museum or curious about the different types of roles that museum staff hold, there are 3 highlighted here:
Museum Curator: The title of curator comes from the verb ‘to curate,’ meaning to organize and design. When a museum decides to showcase a new exhibit, it is a curator who works to select pieces, interpret pieces, and arrange them in a way that tells a story. Curators are, thus, knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, from art history and world history to communication and visual design. Daily tasks can include researching a specific period in history, identifying artwork from that historical time, or deciding what color to paint the walls of an upcoming exhibit. To learn more about this type of position, check out the Association of Art Museum Curators and this article from The Muse.
Museum Registrar: If you have ever explored a museum exhibit that featured artifacts from around the world, those artifacts had to officially be borrowed by the museum, travel to the museum, and stored at the museum. Planning for the logistics of shipping, storing, and maintaining important artwork is the responsibility of a museum registrar. One day they may be coordinating the international shipping timelines of 5 ancient clay pots from Kenya. The next day they may be identifying the appropriate temperature at which an incoming Van Gogh painting must be stored. Accordingly, this is a job that requires attention to detail and the ability to manage many moving pieces. To learn more, check out the Association of Registrars and Collection Specialists and this article from The Muse.
Museum Educator: For those of you who enjoy teaching others, creating curriculum, and engaging with the community, the role of a museum educator may be a good fit. It is a museum educator who would plan a celebration for the South Asian festival of Diwali or organize a month of lectures by local LGBTQIA+ artists. As you can probably tell, there is a significant amount of time spent interacting with the public and thinking of new ways to increase visitor numbers. To learn more, check out the National Art Education Association.
With museums populating the cultural landscape of any country, there are many different types of positions that exist. To explore career opportunities, it is important to network and find people who can share insight into their day-to-day work. Using BU Connects to find BU alumni who work at a museum is a good place to start. The New England Museum Association also has events to help you learn about current trends and connect with relevant professionals.