Curator (museum)

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In the center Emile Theodore, curator of the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille (1947)

The curator (from the Latin curare ' to care for, to worry about') or Kustos (from the Latin custos 'guardian') organizes exhibitions or looks after collections in institutions such as museums .


The main task of the museum curator is to maintain and expand the museum's artistic or scientific collections . In addition, he is expected to contribute to scientific research using the collection material. He also contributes to the museum's exhibition collection, which is only accessible to the public, and can design and implement special and temporary exhibitions on his own. To do this, he must keep in contact with other museums and collectors, as potential lenders, and process relevant inquiries himself (including from scientists who want access to collection material). Often, however, this task is performed by independent exhibition curators who can also curate exhibitions completely independently of a museum, for example the art exhibition documenta . The museum curator reports to the director of the museum, especially in larger museums he also leads his own staff. Other scientific staff, such as restorers and collection assistants, work under his leadership. The work of a curator in the narrower sense does not include tasks of public relations and museum education , the (visual) presentation of the collections is also the responsibility of its own specialists. However, especially in smaller museums, the curators are assigned some or even all of these functions. Small museums often work without a full-time curator at all; they usually focus on the maintenance and presentation of the permanent collection. This can mean that the scientific collections are only looked after on the side, and then often inadequately.


The prerequisite is usually a university degree with a doctorate or a comparable achievement. In the mostly state or municipal institutions (collections, museums , galleries ) a two-year traineeship is desired as a career entry.

There are increasing numbers of postgraduate curatorial courses that combine theory and practice; u. a. at the following universities:

Kustos (Germany)

Custos is, as the curator , an official title for officials of the higher service in German state museums and collections. Employees, on the other hand, are referred to as scientific employees. A university degree with a doctorate or comparable achievement is generally required.

  • Custodian or conservator ( grade A 13) - comparable to a student councilor, government councilor, academic councilor ,
  • Senior custodian or senior curator (salary group A 14) - comparable to senior student council, senior government councilor, academic senior councilor
  • Chief curator or chief curator (grade A 15) - comparable to director of studies, government director, academic director
  • Museum director, state curator (grade A 16) - comparable to senior studies director, senior government director, senior academic director


  • Jan E. Burdick: Creative Careers in Museums . Allworth Communications, 2008, ISBN 978-1-58115-498-6 , p. 28 ff.
  • Friedrich Waidacher: Museology - succinctly . Volume 2607 of the university paperbacks, UTB, 2005, ISBN 978-3-8252-2607-7 .
  • schnittpunkt, Beatrice Jaschke, Charlotte Martinz-Turek, Nora Sternfeld (eds.): Who speaks? Authority and Authority in Exhibitions . Exhibition theory & praxis 1, Vienna: Turia + Kant 2005.
  • schnittpunkt, Charlotte Martinz-Turek , Monika Sommer (Ed.): Storyline. Narrations in the museum . Exhibition theory & praxis 2, Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2009. ISBN 978-3-85132-547-8 .
  • schnittpunkt Belinda Kazeem, Charlotte Martinz-Turek, Nora Sternfeld (eds.): The discomfort in the museum. Post-colonial museologies . Exhibition theory & praxis 3, Vienna: Turia + Kant 2009. ISBN 978-3-85132-548-5 .
  • Beatrice von Bismarck , Jörn Schafaff, Thomas Weski (eds.), Cultures of the Curatorial, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-1-934105-97-9 .
  • Beatrice von Bismarck, Rike Frank, Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer, Jörn Schafaff, Thomas Weski (eds.), Cultures of the Curatorial Vol 2, Timing - On the Temporal Dimension of Exhibiting, Berlin 2013.

Web links

Wiktionary: curator  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Kuratorium  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Curatorial Studies - Theory, History, Criticism, Goethe University and Städel School, Frankfurt am Main
  2. ^ Berlin Career College: Berlin Career College: Course details. Retrieved December 19, 2017 .