Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Museum Curating

The curators work on display at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery..

Culture Professionals Network, ‘People think curating just means choosing nice things’ – secrets of the museum curators The Guardian, 23 January 2016

From Tudor piss-pots to Botticellian nymphs, four curators reveal their favourite objects and what their job really entails


Daniel Martin, curator of making, and Lucy Bamford, curator of art, Derby Museums

Tell us something we don’t know about being a museum curator

Daniel: Probably most things. The most common follow-up question when I tell people what I do for a living is: “Great! What’s that then?” It’s quite hard to answer. We don’t spend all day lurking in musty stores any more; it’s all about people. It’s their stories and complexity that really make collections pop.

Lucy: A popular misconception concerns museum gloves. We rarely use white cotton gloves. Nowadays we use synthetic rubber ones, which make your hands sweat. It’s not as glamorous as it might appear.

What career insight would you give to an aspiring curator?

Daniel: Nothing is as important when you’re starting out as gaining experience. An undergraduate and postgraduate degree is a wonderful foundation, but employers will see it as just that. Experience gained via volunteering, internships and work placements will always be preferred over a degree from a prestigious university.

With government cuts facing our sector over the coming years, make sure that being a curator is something to which you’re totally committed. There will be lots of short-term contracts and project-related work throughout your career. Curating is no longer a suitable choice for those seeking long-term stability.

Lucy: Be open-minded and prepared to dig deep often for creative solutions to an unimaginable range of problems and issues. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding.

No other job has given me the opportunity to meet so many interesting people and learn so many new things. Working in a museum has given me a connection to people – to the rest of humanity – that I never had before.

Read more

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. No claim is made as to the accuracy or authenticity of the content of the website. The Council of Australasian Museum Directors does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided on this website. The information on our website is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. No responsibility is taken for any information or services which may appear on any linked web sites. Hostgator.
.