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Who are Curators in the art world?

Whether it is a painting exhibition in a gallery or a performance in a public space, artists need their work to speak to a certain audience. Therefore, the figure of the curator - a professional who manages the selection of artists and works, as well as the event organisation and promotion - becomes crucial. The interest in this role has grown over the decades and, consequently, it requires a level of specialisation which includes technical skills as well as an ability to understand the present world and its issues.

What do Curators do?

In practice, a curator’s work can encompass a wide range of activities. These include defining the theme and concept of an art event (be it an exhibition, happening, or other), researching and selecting the works, choosing the location (gallery, public space, museum, etc.), planning the event in all its details, designing the layout and artwork display within the space, and producing all the information or promotional material (from writing the press release to advertising on digital channels). The role therefore requires an appreciation of some artistic and cultural aspects, others related to communication, and also more managerial aspects such as budget management or securing the works. These responsibilities may vary depending on the type of employing organisation (galleries, museums, companies, independent projects, etc.) and the project.

What skills should an Art Curator have?

As implied by the previous paragraph, curators deal with different tasks, even though their main goal remains the success of the actual art event and, consequently, the promotion of the artist's work. This necessarily requires a wide range of skills, such as:

  • Technical skills related to art: knowledge of art history and constant updating in the field; ability to read artworks and understand their underlying concepts; ability to design a layout and create a consistent exhibition itinerary.
  • Socio-cultural knowledge: curiosity and up-to-date knowledge of relevant contemporary issues, significant cultural depth.
  • Managerial skills: budget management skills and awareness of administrative/bureaucratic restrictions; space and facility management.
  • Communication: writing texts and supporting the graphic design for artists’ online and offline promotion.
  • Soft skills: ability to relate to the artists and to support them in speaking to their audience, good organizational skills.

How to become a Curator?

Whereas in the past a curator’s profile tended to descend directly from artists, gallery owners or critics’ profiles, today this role is increasingly more defined. So, too, is the professional path. At NABA, training begins with the Three-year BA Programme in Painting and Visual Arts and is completed with the Two-year Specialising course in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies. In the former, the foundations are laid to enter the art world. Whereas, the latter provides a highly specialised curatorial practice in which visual culture, aesthetics and social dynamics are central to the programme.

What to study to become a Curator?

Three-year BA Programme in Painting and Visual Arts 

Two-year Specialising Course in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies