What roles are there in a gallery?

I want to work in a gallery after my BA course in fine art and was wondering what different roles are contained within a gallery?

— Jade Anderson


Expert answers

Christopher McHugh 's reply:

The kind of roles available depends very much on the size and nature of the gallery/museum. A small, commercial gallery will have fewer staff and, therefore, more multi-taskers than a large publically-funded gallery or museum with more specialist staff.

A good way to see the breadth of potential roles is to look at the ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ sections of gallery websites. Often individual staff members and their associated roles are listed.

A few examples are listed below:

Victoria Miro Gallery (a medium-sized commercial gallery). Scroll to the bottom and click on ‘gallery staff contact details’.

Tate Modern (a large publically-funded national gallery)

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (a large, publically-funded regional gallery)

Generally, larger galleries will be divided into a number of departments which deal with various aspects of the running of the gallery. These may include management, programme (curatorial), learning/outreach, technical, and front of house, etc. Some gallery roles, particularly those of a curatorial nature, may require a postgraduate qualification or extensive gallery experience.

A common way of getting a job in a gallery after graduation is to initially volunteer or work as an intern. In some cases (e.g. Baltic above), many of the front of house staff have undergraduate degrees in an art-related subject and it is sometimes possible to move from a front of house position to another role in the gallery. Galleries often employ fine art graduates to offer creative workshops as part of their learning and outreach programmes, although this may be on a freelance basis. Some fine artists become conservators, but a postgraduate degree in conservation and extensive experience is required.

I suggest you approach galleries in your area to discuss the possibility of volunteering or working as an intern during your degree. This will give you an idea of the possible roles available and enable you to identify the areas you are interested in.

This Museum Association link may be of interest: http://www.museumsassociation.org/careers/starting-your-career


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