When you own a business, you are likely approached by job-seekers at some point in the day or week or month. If you are lucky, the job opportunities you offer are well defined and responsibilities are clear. Then there are the jobs like “curator” that isn’t always well-defined and the job seeker can’t clearly define what they are experienced at or the value of their skills.
People want to work. People needs jobs and people need purpose. When I ask ‘Job-Seeking Joe’ to describe to me what he thinks a curator does, the reply is often met with a blank stare or the comment, “I can hang pictures.” Well, I am here to tell you a curator does more than that and the following is just the beginning.
What is a gallery curator and his responsibility? The curator is the overseer of the gallery art collection and the key responsibilities at the top of the list are generally managing the acquisition of art, handling delivery/returns, developing short- and long-term exhibit plans, and displaying a collection in order to inform, educate and inspire the public as well as provide proper exposure for the artist. The specific needs of a curator can vary from gallery to gallery, resulting in an opportunity for the job seeker to develop his/her own responsibilities.
In smaller galleries, the curator may also handle public relations, marketing, fundraising, and events. Curators prepare and manage budgets, train and manage staff, and build relationships with both internal and external partners, clients, and stakeholders.
Sounds like the curator is a business owner? Sometimes the entrepreneurial owner is the curator. It is not unusual to find galleries managed single-handedly or with few staff or sales personnel. It’s a challenge that takes many talents, business skills and a level of expertise, and experience grows with time. I’ve been curating for seven years and few would want my job . . . and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.