How To Become A Museum Curator In Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become museum curators in Australia.


Do arts, history, science, archaeology, and humanities fascinate you?


A museum curator organizes, displays, and manages artworks and art pieces for exhibitions, shows, and collections. They also do administrative tasks and plan events, workshops, lectures, and other activities related to the exhibits and artists.


To become a Museum Curator in Australia, you must complete a bachelor's degree with a major in fine arts, cultural studies, anthropology, and history, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts.


In this blog, you will learn about the qualifications needed, courses, degrees, salary you will earn, job opportunities, and the steps to launch a profession as a museum curator in Australia.



1. What Is A Museum Curator?


Museum curators specialize in a specific discipline, such as cultural heritage, anthropology, fine art, decorative arts, social history, natural history, science, and technology.


They plan, organize, and oversee museum collections, including displaying artefacts in a gallery, museum, or cultural venue. They also submit grant applications to gain financial support and research what the public is interested in.


They play a role in museum administration and form a link between artists, administrators and museumgoers to create an ultimate experience for those who appreciate art and other museum installations.



2. What Are The Types of Museum Curators?


While a smaller museum has a general curator who manages the entire collection, prominent museums have specialized curators for different subjects.


Here are the most common categories:



Art Curator


They have extensive knowledge of fine arts and art history. Generally, They work at an art museum or an art gallery.



Digital Data Objects Curator


This museum curator gathers, lists, and maintains the digital assets of any museum collection.



Special Collections Curator


This type of curator researches what people look for in a collection. They prepare and manage museum collections and may also borrow them.


The focus of such museums lies in artefacts related to aerospace, medicine, souvenirs related to geography/movies/books, a specific cultural movement or historical period and archaeology.



Science Curator


This museum curator specializes in astrophysics, chemical science, and natural sciences and works in natural history and science museums.



3. What Does A Museum Curator Do?


Museum curators manage an entire museum collection, which includes the acquisition and maintenance of exhibitions.


They either specialize in a specific field of art or work in museums that offer a variety of exhibitions in a wide range of disciplines.


Their roles include performing research, preparing articles for publications, planning events, workshops, and lectures, and supervising all section curators in a cultural institution.


Here is a complete list of the work responsibilities of a museum curator:


  • Research and negotiate the acquisition of museum collections, either permanently or for a specified duration.

  • Develop exhibitions around coherent themes

  • Identify, categorize, and document museum items and collections.

  • Design, mount/arrange and organize installations in display areas and cases in an art exhibit.

  • Authenticate and oversee artefacts, artworks, and other historical items in a museum

  • Select appropriate materials and methods to restore items

  • Ensure careful storage and care of display items

  • Manage volunteers and staff

  • Design tours and other academic resources for the public

  • Exclusively handle paper records of a museum.

  • Write labels for exhibited artefacts.

  • Coordinate with cultural institutions, including cultural guardians and artists

  • Prepare promotional content and materials, preserve circulation systems, and order new materials.

  • Coordinate activities to gain monetary assistance and public interest

  • Travel to examine or procure new museum collections

  • Keep precise records of loans, acquisitions, and details about art objects and their values.

  • Produces trade publications, initiates exhibitions, delivers public lecturers, writes about collections, and responds to general queries

  • Arrange the lighting and layout of scientific displays, art displays, and historical displays

  • Organize workshops and tours to interface with the public and work on public outreach campaigns to promote the museum.

  • Collaborate with different museum departments to find the best form of representation for the museum's collection.

  • Categorize, store, and set up a comprehensive navigable database of the museum collection.



4. Skills To Become A Museum Curator


As museum curators oversee many tasks, their list of skill sets is quite extensive.


If you wish to pursue this profession, then here are a few fundamental skills to develop/refine:


  • Passionate about arts, science, environment and history

  • Patience

  • Detail-oriented 

  • Methodical approach 

  • Teamwork skills

  • Organizational skills 

  • Good verbal and written communication skills

  • Good imagination

  • Aptitude for research

  • Accounting

  • Meticulous organizational skills

  • Critical thinking

  • Technical skills to manage, and upkeep historical artefacts

  • Physical stamina

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Software proficiency for using office software that includes databases, spreadsheet tools, invoicing software, etc.

  • Creative thinking

  • Managerial skills



5. Qualifications To Become A Museum Curator In Australia


Do you want to know how to become a curator in Australia? 


Here are the qualifications that will help you become one:


  • Complete your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

  • Earn an undergraduate university-level degree in arts or science focused on related areas such as fine arts, anthropology, history, cultural studies, archaeology, biology, environmental science, or astronomy.

  • Complete a master's degree in museum studies, cultural heritage management, or curatorships, such as a Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum Studies) or a Graduate Certificate of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies. Some universities require previous experience in museums and related sectors as a prerequisite to postgraduate courses.



6. Steps To Become a Museum Curator in Australia?


Are you interested in the job profile and looking to work in this sector? 


Then follow the below steps to embark on a career as a museum curator:



Step 1: Obtain A Bachelor's Degree


Suppose you want to know how to become an art curator in Australia. Studying fine arts, history, archaeology, arts management, and museum studies can benefit you. A Bachelor of Fine Arts will give you the fundamental knowledge of art history and practical art skills.


A bachelor's degree in science and technology will be beneficial to work in a science museum. Likewise, based on the type of museum you want to work in, you can pursue a degree in that field.


Many degree programs offer internships and externships that are good opportunities to widen your professional network and secure a job after graduation.



Step 2: Get A Postgraduate Qualification


Enrolling in a master's degree program is common to become more competitive in the employment market. Owning a postgraduate qualification can help you secure work in museum administration.


A Master of Fine Arts provides a practical education with plenty of real-world experience in curating art exhibitions and shows for galleries. It can prove to be a valuable experience to work in a museum.


Those wishing to work in history or natural sciences museums can benefit from earning a master's in business administration.


Other available post-graduation options include:


  • Master of Cultural Studies

  • Master of Museum Studies

  • Master of Museum and Heritage Studies


These degrees emphasize areas such as the philosophy and history of museums, art conservation, cultural heritage law, audience engagement, exhibition management, and more.



Step 3: Gain Experience Through Internships


Expertise in research, management, and restoration of collections, exhibition design, and other related roles will increase your chances of obtaining full-time work in museums.


Museum internships and volunteering are great options for graduate students to gain hands-on experience. Many museums look for volunteers who can offer their help with daily tasks.


Though this may not earn you money, it can offer networking opportunities and invaluable experience in the humanitarian sector.



Step 4: Get Recruited


Once you have gained adequate skills, experience, and education, prepare an impressive resume by listing relevant work experience and keywords mentioned in the job description.


Now you are ready to apply for museum curator jobs through online job portals or by visiting cultural institutions in person.



Industry Bodies Related To Museum Curation Include:




7. How Long Does It Take To Become A Museum Curator?


It takes around 5 to 10 years on average to land a position as a museum curator in Australia.


In most cases, it takes about six years of school and 3 to 5 years of work experience to fulfil the minimum eligibility qualifications to become a museum curator.



8. Relevant Certifications For Museum Curators in Australia



Graduate Certificate of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies


This coursework program is for students who have recently completed their undergraduate degree or are already volunteering in heritage sites or museums.


Curator courses in Australia equip you with basic theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills on museum history, interpretation, administration, curation, cultural heritage management, collections management, artefact handling, code of conduct, and exhibitions, and familiarizes you with the latest theory and practice in the museum.


The graduate certificate also helps develop a solid foundation to pursue advanced education and progress in the career.


You can seek internships or an entry role in all national, state, and regional cultural institutions, including museums, national parks, cultural heritage sites, and international heritage groups.


You can attend this program at the following Australian universities:


  • Deakin University

  • Colarado State University

  • Australian National University

  • The University of Sydney



Bachelor of Fine Arts


It is an intensive and practical degree course designed to teach aspects of art practice, hands-on learning, and creative independence to make a rewarding career as an artist.


The course provides the essential guidelines and resources to enable students to think creatively and explore their artistic potential.



  • National Arts School

  • QUT

  • RMIT University

  • Open Universities 

  • The University of Melbourne



Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum Studies)


This comprehensive course integrates relevant and contemporary theoretical, practical, and historical aspects of gathering, interpreting, and displaying art.


It is well-suited for graduates who aim to enter the museum profession as curators, researchers, or exhibition organizers in Australia or abroad.


Undergoing this professional qualification, students learn in-depth about curatorial research and exhibition demonstration from industry experts.


The Australian universities that are presently offering this museum curator degree course are:


  • The University of Adelaide, 

  • The University of Melbourne

  • The University of Western Australia



9. Working Conditions For A Museum Curator





It is an indoor work that requires museum curators to work in art galleries and museums.


Those working in small museums are responsible for managing the entire collection of an institution.


On the other hand, curators employed at prominent museums have specialized responsibilities for different subjects and specialities.



Work Hours


Full-time workers work around 42 hours per week compared to the industry's average of 44 hours.



Nature of Employment


Based on Job outlook data, around 67% of workers are employed full-time. 


A few museum curators also work part-time or on a contractual basis.





The average age of employed museum curators is 46 years which is higher than the industry's average of 40 years. Around 54% of them are above the age of 54 years. 


It shows that the profession is doable and suitable even in the late stages of a career.





Around 68% of the total workforce comprises females, which is higher than the average of 48% in other occupations in Australia. The profession presents promising employment and growth opportunities for aspiring female museum curators.



10. Job Opportunities for a Museum Curator In Australia


Around 55.8% of the total employed professionals in this sector hold a master's degree or Graduate Certificate/Diploma, and 31.7% have completed a bachelor's degree. 


It shows that gaining a post-graduation qualification is ideal for entering and sustaining a position in this industry.


Once qualified, a museum curator can start their career journey with a Curatorial Assistant role and progress to the following per their skill and experience.


  • Assistant Museum Curator

  • Museum Curator

  • Senior Museum Curator


Though museum Curators work in several regions of Australia, the ACT has the largest share of workers. 


Public Administration and Safety, Education and Training, and Arts and Recreation Services are the top recruiting industries for museum curators.



11. Job Prospects of Museum Curators in Australia


Cultural institutions in Australia are evolving. Modern-age archives, museums, galleries, and heritage sites are highly interactive and accessible to entice several national and overseas travellers.


The employment outlook of museum curators is to grow more than the average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts steady growth of 9% for museum curator jobs in Australia through 2028, which outperforms the growth rate of other industries.



12. How Much Does A Museum Curator Earn In Australia?


As per Salary Expert, the average museum curator's salary in Australia is $93,759 per year.


The average museum curator's weekly and hourly pays are $1,812 and $45. Museum Curators also earn an annual bonus of $2,381 on average.


According to Indeed, the average salary for a Curator in Australia is $86,713, equivalent to $31 per hour.



Top-Paying Australian Cities For Curators


  • Sydney NSW: $108,120 per year

  • Rockhampton QLD: $99,318 per year

  • Canberra ACT: $96,303 per year

  • Perth WA: $89,318 per year

  • Kings Park, WA: $79,716 per year

  • Melbourne City Centre VIC: $78,479 per year

  • Campbell ACT: $72,518 per year

  • Warrnambool VIC: $70,423 per year



13. Conclusion


The job of a museum curator can be hard work, but it is also rewarding. They play a significant part in cultural recreation and shaping how the community perceives itself.


Curator courses help students learn how to work with collections, creating various career opportunities in the national and global heritage and cultural sectors.


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