Curator vs. Museum Educator: What’s the Difference?
- Research skills: Curators must have expansive knowledge of their museum’s subject matter. This allows them to identify interesting, relevant artifacts for the organization’s collections. Developing this knowledge base requires extensive research. This knowledge must also be updated regularly. New findings in history and art occur all the time, and it is important that curators stay abreast of research developments and new discoveries.
- Creativity: Curators must also have the creative talents to envision and execute the setup and design of exhibitions. Having a good eye for interior design is helpful. They should also be aware of how people move through an exhibit space, coming up with creative ways to draw attention to especially noteworthy objects. For instance, if an important new painting arrives, it should be displayed prominently where it will gain maximum exposure.
- People skills: Thanks to the public-facing nature of the role, curators must also have excellent people skills. According to a report in The Guardian, a curator’s job largely involves talking with the public. They not only represent the museum at press functions, they also circulate at fundraising events. Here, they are required to engage with patrons and potential donors, serving as a font of knowledge for interested individuals.
- Public speaking: Museum curators must be comfortable speaking in front of large groups. They must be able to speak clearly, naturally, and with confidence. Since they are often talking to children, who have shorter attention spans than adults, it is important that they be able to speak in an engaging manner, for instance, by inviting active participation.
- Writing: Museum curators must be adept with the written as well as the spoken word. Part of the job involves creating interesting curricula for the educational programs and presentations they give. The lesson plans they write need to stimulate and captivate the audiences they teach, and the other materials need to be easy for visitors to understand.
- Research: Like curators, museum educators must also be skilled researchers. This enables them to acquire the knowledge they can then pass on to their students. Only once they have a thorough and detailed grasp of their subject matter can they pass along important information to inquisitive visitors.