5112 Conservators and curators

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Lead statement

Conservators restore and conserve artifacts belonging to museums, galleries and owners of cultural property. Curators recommend the acquisition of museum artifacts and gallery works of art and research their artistic history. Conservators and curators are employed in museums, art galleries and universities. Conservators may be self-employed.

Example Titles

  • conservator – art objects
  • curator
  • art gallery conservator
  • historical artifact conservator
  • natural history museum curator
  • conservator – museum

Main duties

Conservators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Examine artifacts, determine their condition, suggest methods for treating them and recommend preventive conservation techniques to their owners
  • Restore and conserve paintings, photographs, sculptures, furniture, pottery and other museum and art gallery artifacts
  • Provide advice on display and storage of museum and gallery artifacts to ensure proper maintenance and preservation
  • Research new conservation and restoration techniques
  • Provide consultation to museums, art galleries or private individuals
  • Supervise conservation technicians and other museum technicians.

Curators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Recommend the acquisition of paintings, photographs, sculptures, documents and other museum and art gallery artifacts
  • Research origins and artistic history of artifacts
  • Develop storylines and themes and organize displays and exhibitions
  • Co-ordinate the storage of collections and the setting up of displays and exhibitions
  • Oversee the conservation, display and circulation of collections
  • Supervise curatorial assistants and other museum technicians.
  • Conservators and curators may specialize in a particular type of collection or material, such as furniture, weapons, books, paintings and musical instruments.

Employment requirements

  • Conservators require a master's degree in art conservation or Completion of a three-year college program in conservation technology and several years of experience in conservation work.
  • Curators require a master's or bachelor's degree in museology, art history or a field related to their specific area of work.

Additional information

  • Progression to museum or art gallery management positions is possible with experience.


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