Inspiring Job: How to become a Museum Curator in India

By Pankhuri Kumar

We are curators of life on Earth…We hold it in the palm of our hand!

Curator means “care” in Latin language. A museum curator is a professional who is responsible for managing the collections of a museum and, in other words, taking care of the museum. The collection could be paintings, photographs, sculptures, manuscripts, textiles, or exhibits of science and technology.

WHAT DOES A MUSEUM CURATOR DO?

Museum curators can specialize in anthropology, art, decorative arts, natural history, social history, science or technology. They mainly work inside the museums or art galleries but some times travel for field studies as well. They keep and maintain records, organize and display the specimens.

Museum curators are highly influential in the cultural sector. They decide what is held in collections and is shown in exhibitions. They are responsible for the success of some artists and the failure of others. Generally, the role of a curator is about collecting and exhibiting works of art, but it also involves administrative and outreach work. Their work also involves fundraising for exhibitions, providing educational tools, and working to increase the profile of an institution or exhibition.

The majority of museum curators are also at least partly responsible for planning and hosting museum events. Museum events can include such things as tours, workshops, lectures, and fundraisers, as well as educational programs for museum members and the general public.

national museum delhi
National Museum in New Delhi (Photo by HolidayIQ) 

HOW CAN ONE BECOME A MUSEUM CURATOR IN INDIA?

To begin with, one should have passed their 10+2 with science and mathematics from a reputed institution with good marks in the concerned examination.

The next step would be to obtain the Bachelor of Arts degree in Archeology and Museology from a recognized university. One also needs a Master of Arts degree in Museology or Postgraduate Diploma in Museology or a Masters degree in Zoology/ Botany/ Geology/ Geography / Earth Sciences/Anthropology/ Agriculture/ Environmental Science/ Marine Science.

Post graduates can apply for any internship or training or can join as volunteers in museums while pursuing their graduation. This increases the chance to easily get into employment. Some employers may also require candidates who possess a doctorate degree in related field. On completing the Master’s degree, students can apply for the concerned doctorate degree programmes which is through entrance exams.

Tasneem Zakari Mehta Indian Express
Tasneem Zakari Mehta is Vice Chairperson at Intach, and managing trustee and Honorary director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum. (Photo by Indian Express)

WHERE TO STUDY IN INDIA?

Department of Museology, Calcutta University, Kolkata, Banaras Hindu University, Jiwaji University, Gwalior, MS University Baroda, National Museum Institute ,Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, Osmania University, Solapur University ,Vikram University are some of the known institutions offering courses like MA, MSc , PhD Museology and other required courses to become a museum curator.

WHAT ARE THE CAREER PROSPECTS?

An applicant for the position of Deputy Curator in a government museum, who has a few years of experience, can expect to be paid in a salary band of Rs. 15,600 – 39,100 per month.

The competition for museum curator positions is generally very fierce, and a new graduate should not expect to be hired as a curator right away. Instead, an individual may need to work in a museum in another position, such as an archivist or art restorer, before a curator position opens up.

He will then usually need to apply for the position and compete against several other experienced and qualified applicants.

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE WOULD DO WELL AS MUSEUM CURATORS?

People with a strong passion and interest in managing and research are most apt for this profession.They must have a strong understanding of museum studies and care for valuable collection items. They should be able to design and exhibit the collections in various ways. Having some artistic abilities of one’s own is also helpful, but it isn’t always necessary. Other qualities required by them are critical thinking, flexibility, willpower and manual dexterity.

Curator Jayanta Sengupta Indian Express
Dr Jayanta Sengupta is the Secretary & Curator at Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. (Photo by Indian Express)

A museum curator career starts with a passion for art and art history. Before becoming a museum curator, an individual should first make sure that he truly appreciates all different sorts of art. Due to the specialized nature of this profession, individuals interested in a museum curator career can often expect to make decent money. This can often be a high pressure job. If you have the desired abilities to understand the need to preserve art and you are ready to go through all the required education to take up this satisfying job then you are all set to take up this glorifying job a museum curator.

Luckily, in India with the vast heritage and culture, this profession has the capacity to take you to all together a new level and give you  opportunities to live your dream job.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1

Pankhuri Kumar is a student of Economics (Honours) at Hindu College, University of Delhi. She is a big believer in the power of positivity and plans to do her MBA in the future.  In her free time, Pankhuri can be found checking out new places to eat and shop at.

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