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The word curator comes from the Latin word curare meaning “to care.” A curator is someone who has the responsibility of caring for and/or superintending something or some collection of things. Curator jobs can located at a wide variety of sites and involve the care and superintendency of a wide variety of things.
Curator jobs can be in museums, at historical sites including museum villages and landmarks, or in local, state, or federal government positions. They may also work in educational institutions such as colleges and universities, for example, or care for the live inhabitants of botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos, or nature centers. The items that they curate can include documents, such as transcripts, photographs, and records; artifacts such as stamps, textiles, musical instruments, and coins; artwork, such as paintings and sculpture; plants and animals, whether alive or preserved; buildings; and entire sites.
In watching over the items in their care, people in curator jobs have occasion to care for them in a variety of ways. They may catalog items to keep a record of them, describing them carefully. They may also analyze their collection and arrange items from the collection for exhibits, as well as organize the exhibit as a whole. Curators may also contribute to the maintenance of the collection in their care, along with conservators and technicians, and oversee the storage arrangements.
Museum director is a curator job that entails management and, in a large institution, may involve oversight of other curators, as well as marketing the museum to the public to increase both attendance and solicit donations. In a large institution, there might be a specialist curator in charge of each division of the collection. In a small institution, on the other hand, a single curator might handle multiple tasks or all of the curator jobs.
Some curators may specialize in acquisitions. In such a case, the curator might be called upon to travel in order to find and appraise items that their institution is considering acquiring. Curators may also do research to support upcoming exhibits or to uncover more information about items in their collections.
The curator may also be the public face of the museum, interacting with the public in person and through the museum’s website. If the museum posts a portion of its holdings for examination online, that is another area in which the curator may work.
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