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Museums

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Museums Overview

Museum Recruiting Timelines

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Museums Overview

For those dedicated to the preservation of works of art, a career at a museum could be the perfect fit. Museums are institutions of various sizes meant to maintain and exhibit works of art for both academic purposes and aesthetic enjoyment. While professionals of many types, from grant writers to publicists to educators, can work at museums, two career paths in particular are unique to the museum context: art preservation and curating. Museum-specific career tracks include the following:
  • Art preservation: Art preservationists, or archivists, possess the technical knowledge to maintain works of art against the wear and tear that results from age and from exhibition.  Archivists often possess graduate degrees, though there are few universities in the United States that offer degrees in this field. Thus, an education in art preservation can be obtained through a variety of ways. According to the Vault Industry guide on Museums and Art Preservation, “the Academy of Certified Archivists offers certification programs. Curators usually have at least a master’s degree, either in Museum Studies or another field, and many museums prefer candidates with a PhD in the institution’s area of specialty (art history, archaeology, etc.).”
  • Curating: Curators determine which works are fit for exhibition in museums and thus administer the collection itself. The top curator of a museum is often termed its director, and they are responsible for fundraising and coordinating donations in order to maintain the museum.

Museum Recruiting Timelines

Museums hire curators and archivists on an as-needed basis; that said, there are low levels of turnover, as individuals, once hired, often stay at a museum for a long period of time. Internship hiring typically takes place a semester prior to employment, for instance, spring for summer opportunities.

CCE Resources

  • LionSHARE: CCE's internship and job board, with postings for both internships and full time jobs. The American Folk Art Museum and the Association of Art Museum Curators have posted with LionSHARE in years past.
  • Vault and WetFeet Guides: CCE subscribes to career-focused web services such as Vault and WetFeet, which offer profiles of industries, companies, and careers within the industry. Vault’s Museums and Art Preservation Guide is particularly relevant.
  • Columbia Arts Experience (CAE): Just one of CCE's domestic and international internship programs that helps to connect students to internship opportunities in the arts.

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Last updated December 2014