What jobs could I do in museums or galleries?

I would like to know what jobs I could do in an art gallery or museum. Having struggled for a few years to look for work post-university, I've been volunteering at an art gallery since september and I would like to know what job roles I could get in future with the experience I'm gaining.

Duties incude: invigilating, leafletting to local businesses and attractions, in addition to preparing learning packs to be sent to schools. So far I have volunteered in four exhibitions.

I should highlight, I applied for a gallery assistant role, of which I have not been successful. What could I do to ensure I get to at least an interview stage or further, if that same role is advertised again?

Thank you.

— Kyel

Expert answers

Fiona West's reply:

It's great that you are interested in working in an art gallery or museum.  Obviously, the bigger the organisation then the more choice of roles are on offer (but competition for the roles also becomes more).

Roles in national museums and galleries tend to be:

  • front of house (e.g. visitor services, security roles, etc.)
  • professional (e.g. roles in finance, HR, digital media, IT; and marketing and fund-raising etc.)
  • expert specific (e.g. curator, collections assistants, archivists, etc.)

Departments may also have administrators, secretaries, etc.

Sometimes finding a role can be difficult if you don't know what you specifically want to do. With this in mind you may want to think about what you want to do and whether your current skill set meets the needs for those roles (if in doubt about what skills are needed then take a look at the websites for these organisations as they often post job vacancies and you can look at the job descriptions to see what they are looking for).    Also think about what motivates and interests you.  Is it working with visitors - if so a front of house role may be something to consider?  Or is it working with data?  Then a finance role may be more for you.  Once you know this it then becomes easier to begin developing towards your chosen career.

If you don't yet have the skills/knowledge you need for the roles then think about whether you need to go back to college to gain the necessary academic qualifications or seek out voluntary roles in the area you are interested in.

Good luck with the job search

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