The difference between Curators and Gallery Managers
Curators and gallery managers are two important and complementary roles in a gallery or museum. The curators are responsible for the artistic and historical department and the gallery managers are responsible for the administrative and executive departments.
In the art world, we often hear or use these titles, but for many, especially artists, they are not clearly defined! Each of these titles has different meanings and responsibilities. I hope this text will help the artist in choosing galleries, gallerists, or curators and how to deal with collectors. In other articles in this collection, important things have been written separately about these titles.
In this article, the difference between curator and gallery manager is examined, because these two positions seem to be very similar, but in reality, they are two different but related roles. The curator works in the field of collecting, maintaining, and displaying artistic and historical works, and the manager is responsible for the administration and management of the entire collection.
As mentioned in other articles, curators play an important role in preserving and transferring works of art. They collect these pieces, preserve and protect them, and display them so that others can enjoy them and become familiar with such works. However, the gallery managers are busy in this position to ensure the proper functioning of the gallery. They formulate long-term and short-term strategies for the gallery, provide funding and resources, and lead the staff team.
First, let’s see a comparison table of the differences between curators and gallery managers:
|Art and culture
|Business and management
|Degree of Education
|MA in Art or Art History
|Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in management or finance
|Selection, collection, preservation, and display of works of art
|Planning, Budgeting and Marketing
|Relationship with works of art
In the following, the duties, responsibilities, and skills needed for both roles will be examined:
Who is the curator?
A person who selects works of art, arranges settings, and provides information about transportation or documentation required for artists, and is responsible for writing labels, catalog themes, and other supporting content for the exhibition. Must have an academic degree in art. and the history of art. Also, the curator may be permanently employed as a gallery or museum director or work as a freelancer. In general, curators have higher education degrees in art-related scientific subjects, such as master’s and doctorate degrees in art research, art theory, and art history. The curator can also give public lectures, and publish articles because he is aware of the current art market and its historical records for his field of expertise and can stream. The curator can create a new reality of influences outside the traditional art world for art installations.
Who is the gallery owner?
Gallerist: the owner or manager of the gallery who chooses his artists and provides each of them with a field of activity and growth, and is directly involved in the wishes and needs of the artists, not by defining projects and art objects. gallerist; He makes his good relations with artists and their art market his goal. A gallerist is someone who represents and promotes artists in a primary art market, one that has exhibition space to offer and fosters relationships with art collectors and organizers. A gallerist may have an actual building called a gallery or an online gallery to present artists, and may also present them internationally in various ways. A gallerist is academically certified in the field of art provides the necessary information to the artists regarding transportation, and required documentation, and arranges the set-up/layout of the exhibition. Also edits biographies on behalf of artists, and prepares necessary sketches and prints for presentation. It is agreed that a gallerist is someone who has responsibilities as a director.
Curator duties and responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of the curator are:
Research and selection of art and historical works for collection: Curators are responsible for identifying and selecting valuable art and historical works for collection in the gallery. They search for new and historic works of art by checking various sources, such as other galleries, auctions, and private collections.
Buying, donating, or borrowing works of art and history: After selecting works of art and history, the curator must buy, donate, or borrow them. Buying art and history is usually expensive, so curators need to have a decent budget for this.
Maintenance and protection of artistic and historical works: After buying or donating historical and artistic works, curators are responsible for their maintenance and protection. They must protect artistic and historical works from physical, chemical, and environmental damage.
Research and write about works of art and history: Curators research and write about works of art and history. This research is done to increase visitors’ knowledge and awareness of artistic and historical works.
Organizing exhibitions and other cultural events: Curators are responsible for organizing exhibitions and other cultural events. Exhibitions and cultural events are held to introduce artistic and historical works to visitors.
Training of gallery visitors: Curators sometimes train gallery visitors. They introduce visitors to the art and history and help them enjoy their visit to the gallery.
The skills needed by curators and gallery managers are:
Required skills of the curator:
Knowledge and skills in the field of art and history: Curators must have sufficient knowledge and skills in the field of art and history to be able to identify, select, and preserve works of art and history.
Research and writing skills: A curator must have good research and writing skills and research and write about works of art and history.
Communication and interaction skills: They should have good communication and interaction skills to be able to communicate with visitors, other gallery staff, and other people related to the gallery.
Management skills: Curators must have good management skills to manage various gallery projects.
Required skills of gallery managers:
Knowledge and skills in the field of management: Gallery managers must have sufficient knowledge and skills in the field of management to be able to run the gallery effectively.
Leadership and organizational skills: They also have good leadership and organizational skills and lead and organize the gallery staff team.
Communication and interaction skills: Gallery managers must have good communication and interaction skills to be able to communicate with board members, gallery staff, visitors, and other people related to the gallery.
Financial and budgetary skills: Having financial and budgetary skills is very important for a manager to properly manage the gallery budget.
Differences between curators and gallery managers
In terms of duties
Curators are responsible for collecting, maintaining, and displaying artistic and historical works. Gallery managers are responsible for the administration and management of the entire gallery.
In terms of responsibilities
Curators are responsible for selecting works of art and history to collect, purchase, donate borrow, preserve, and protect them, research and write about them, and organize exhibitions and other cultural events. Gallery managers are responsible for managing and managing the entire gallery, formulating long-term and short-term strategies for the gallery, providing budget and resources for the gallery, leading the gallery staff team, marketing and advertising for the gallery, and developing relations with the community.
In terms of skills required
Curators must have knowledge and skills in the fields of art and history, research and writing skills, communication and interactive skills, and management skills, but gallery managers must have knowledge and skills in the field of management, leadership and organization skills, communication skills, and interactive and have financial and budget skills.
Curators and gallery managers have two important roles together in a gallery. Although in this article, the fundamental differences between these two roles in the proper functioning of a gallery or museum were mentioned, for each of these two positions to be able to display a good and attractive performance, it needs effective cooperation and communication with the other.
To read more, refer to the following sources:
- China, Li Yufei. Visual and practical thinking of curators [J]. Art Literature, 2019 (1): 15-18.
- Japan,Toshio Sasaki，China,Shen Yan, Shen Meihua Translated. The curatorial era [M]. Beijing: CITIC Publishing House, 2015: 141.
- China,Peng Feng.Concept, Culture, and Experiment Several Experiences in Planning the China Pavilion of the 54th Venice International Art Biennale [J] .Art Review, 2011 (10): 28-32.
- China,Liu Xiangjuan.The Parallel Art World and Post-Cold War Order at the La Biennale di Venezia[J] .Arts and Design, 2019 (8): 108-111.
- France,Althusser,China,Chen Yue translated .Philosophy and Politics: Althusser Reader [M]. Jilin People’s Publishing House, 2011: 329.
- China,Liu Xintian.On the Position of the Curator in the Art Ecosystem Using Abrams Schema as a Reference [J] .QI Lu Yiyuan, 2018, (02): 107-111.
- U.S.A,Vera. Zolberg,China, Yuan Bailingtranslated.Construct the sociology of art [M]. Nanjing: Yilin Publishing House, 2018 Vol 65.
- China,Huang Hairong.The role and development of independent curators in the cultural industry [J] .Journal of Hubei Institute of Technology, 2018, (02): 102-105.