Profile for a Historic House Museum Curator

Historic House Museums range from castles to cottages from all periods. The interpretation of house museums includes historic, architectural, cultural, artistic and social information. The curation of a house museum includes issues of conservation, restoration and security, as well as the interpretation of the history of the house, its owners and its collections to visitors.

A historic house museum curator is an all-rounder with a wide range of knowledge and ability, who takes a pragmatic approach to his or her role. He or she has to be a flexible person, able and willing to independently manage a museum when required. Resources are usually limited.

A curator will be educated to university degree standard in one of the following:

• History
• art history
• literature
• music

He or she has a keen interest and the ability to learn about:
Conservation of architecture ans interiors and the conservation of house collections including textiles, paintings and wood sculptures, different metals, glass, ceramics and paper. An interest in the history of garden design can also be useful.

Collections management: he or she has to have knowledge about registration of collections, conservation and climate control.

Interpretation: an academic who is able to work out a convincing concept of interpretation and can realise an attractive exhibition respecting the house and its setting.

Communication: a communicative person, who finds the right way to communicate to a large audience, including primarily its visitors but members of the original owner family, sector professionals and politicians. The curator should also be aware of all services, which visitors expect to experience as part of their visi.

Marketing: The ability to increase the profil of the house to potential visitors through all aspects of tourism.

Sustainable management: He or she is well aware of the particularities of a house museum and its setting and is creative in finding new ways of attracting paying visitors, friends and sponsors to keep the house a place of attraction without endangering its architecture and collections. He or she knows common management tools (strategic plans, budgets, people skills).

Cultural events and ventures: he or she is open to ventures in a responsible way and has creative ideas for events in connection with the history of the house.

By Daniela Ball 2008