Career and Job Search Guide

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians

Archivists, curators, and museum technicians collect and safeguard rare or significant documents or objects to be displayed or stored. These professionals are usually employed by libraries, archives, government agencies, and educational institutions. They are also responsible to document, catalogue, and maintain archived documents or objects. Archived items can include historic documents, paintings, objects of historical significance, and other valuable items.

Archivists and curators coordinate and supervise archive cataloguing and maintain items stored in an archive. These professionals set up tours and seminars and often sit on boards to assist in policy decisions. Many archivists and curators conduct research relevant to their archive collections. Curators and archivists have similar responsibilities, but curators are responsible for objects and archivists store records and important documents for preservation. Archivists acquire, maintain, and store documents and other items to be preserved. Documents or items can include photos, movies, sound recordings, paper collections, letters, and public records. Private companies, public libraries, government agencies, museums, history organizations, and schools hire archivists. Archived records and documents are used by people conducting genealogy and historical research.

Archivists preserve collections using accepted methods intended to preserve documents for extended periods of time. Records can be kept in many formats including audio, video, or paper. Original documents and recordings are archived but copies are made so people can access the records. More archivists are now using electronic storage methods to store data, so they must learn how to use new computer technology to efficiently complete their work.

Many archivists develop expertise in a certain historical event or period to better organize archival materials. Some archivists work exclusively with manuscripts, digital records, photos, videos, maps, and audio recordings.

Most archivists are now using computers to store and access historical records. Computer technology is changing and expected to further change how records and documents are stored in archives.

Curators coordinate and supervise the activities at zoos, nature facilities, historical monuments, and museums. A museum's main curator is known as a museum director. Curators coordinate collection purchases and collection exchanges with other institutions. Curators are also required to review collection materials for authenticity, as well cataloguing collection items. Curators are often involved with research and fundraising activities. Curators also write proposals for grants, write articles for scholarly journals, and attend meetings and official functions.

Curators usually specialize in certain disciplines such as history, art, or archeology. Curators employed by large organizations often possess expert knowledge in a specialty. Curators can either conduct research or supervise collections they accumulate. Curators working for smaller organizations often have numerous responsibilities.

Conservators handle and preserve historic records and objects requiring special attention. To determine how to preserve and care for materials, conservators use sophisticated technology. Conservators maintain detailed records of their work and attempt to restore items. Conservators usually develop specific expertise in art work, manuscripts, books, and numerous other historical objects.

Museum technicians help curators preserve and restore objects located in a museum. It is not uncommon for technicians to work with curators during research projects. They also work with archivists cataloguing and organizing archive items.