Museum Curator for an Animal/Wildlife Centric Art Museum

Career Path 

Linnea Heid 

This text describes the basic path that an individual needs to follow in order to make their way to a career as a curator for an art museum. There is no one formula for success in a field, but these steps outline a potential journey towards it. 

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in art, history, museum studies or a similar field.
The first (and minimum) requirement for pursuing a career as a museum curator is a bachelor’s degree in art, history, museum studies or something similar. Essentially, this establishes the baseline for knowledge of the art world, as well as context for works of art and refinement of taste. This will also give the individual experience in academia- a very important aspect of being involved in museum curation as a career. 

At least 5 years worth of experience post-university as an intern/assistant curator.
Although more often than not, internships are unpaid or with a very low salary, they are crucial to becoming involved in the world of art and museum related careers. Internships are a time when individuals become familiar with the inner workings of a museum and get a sense of what a career as a curator entails. Additionally, time spent as an intern can be a valuable networking opportunity and can lead to fruitful professional relationships that can be leveraged down the road. 

Networking and personal connections in the industry, usually as a result of time spent as an intern or assistant curator.
As I mentioned earlier, networking and establishing professional connections to others in the field is a large part of the 5 years of required work experience. These connections are absolutely essential to securing a position as a curator. 

Involvement in academia post-university, including conducting research, attending conferences and publishing academic articles in art, history or a related field.
Being an art curator for a museum, whether it be an animal-based art museum or an archeological one, is an academic career. Aside from the required university education, museum curators are generally expected to be involved in the academic world post-graduation. This can take a variety of forms, most commonly by publishing articles, attending conferences, and conducting ongoing research. 

Experience in public relations is also highly important, either work experience or postgraduate studies in business or a related field.
Whether this manifests as coursework in university or as postgraduate studies, experience and education in business and management is essential. Not only are you making curatorial decisions, but you also have to manage a variety of other operational aspects of the museum and interact with the public. This makes know-how in PR highly valuable. 

Time Frame for a Career as a Museum Curator 

Generally speaking, any career has its own timeline, depending on various factors. Keeping that in mind, a career as a museum curator will often take about a decade. 

This includes:

  • at least 4 years at a university 
  • 5 years of experience as an intern or assistant curator 
  • 1-2 years of postgraduate academic work and networking