17 Assistant Curator Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an assistant curator, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

An assistant curator is responsible for the care and management of a collection of objects in a museum or gallery. As an assistant curator, you will be responsible for the preservation, documentation, and interpretation of the collection. In some cases, you may also be responsible for the acquisition of new objects.

If you are interested in working as an assistant curator, you will need to go through a job interview. During the interview, you will be asked a variety of questions about your experience, your qualifications, and your goals. In this guide, we will provide you with a list of assistant curator interview questions and answers to help you prepare for your interview.

Common Assistant Curator Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with a wide variety of artifacts and artworks?

Assistant curators often work with a variety of artifacts and artworks. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the experience working with different types of objects. Use your answer to share that you are comfortable working with all kinds of items. Explain how you would use your skills to organize these items in an exhibition or storage facility.

Example: “I am very comfortable working with a wide variety of artifacts and artworks. In my previous role, I worked with everything from paintings to sculptures. I used my organizational skills to create displays for each exhibit. I also helped arrange the artifacts into storage facilities. I can use my communication skills to explain what needs to be done with each item.”

What are some of the most important skills for an assistant curator?

This question can help interviewers understand what you value as a curator. They may ask this to see if your skills match the job description and how they might be able to use them in their organization. When preparing for an assistant curator interview, read through the job listing to identify which skills are most important for the role. Then, think about which of these skills you have that could benefit the museum or gallery.

Example: “I believe some of the most important skills for an assistant curator include communication, problem-solving and time management. As an assistant curator, I would need to communicate with other curators and staff members to share ideas and get feedback on my projects. I would also need to solve problems when they arise, such as finding new sources of funding for exhibitions. Finally, I would need to manage my time effectively so I can meet deadlines and stay organized.”

How would you handle a situation where you disagree with your supervisor about an artifact or artwork for an exhibition?

As an assistant curator, you may be responsible for researching and presenting artifacts or artwork to your supervisor. Your opinion is important in these situations, so interviewers want to know how you would handle a disagreement with your supervisor. In your answer, explain that you would approach the situation professionally and respectfully. Explain that you would try to understand their perspective and provide evidence for why you believe the artifact or artwork should be included in the exhibition.

Example: “I would first ask my supervisor to elaborate on their reasoning for excluding the piece from the exhibition. I would then research the piece further and find additional information about its history or background. If I still disagree with my supervisor’s decision after providing this information, I would politely tell them that I still feel it belongs in the exhibition.”

What is your process for researching and writing exhibition descriptions?

Assistant curators are responsible for researching and writing exhibition descriptions. This is a key part of their job, so interviewers want to know how you approach this task. Your answer should include steps that you take when researching and writing exhibition descriptions.

Example: “I start by reading the artist’s biography and looking at previous exhibitions they have participated in. I also read reviews from critics who have previously reviewed their work. Then, I look at other pieces of art that the artist has created to get an idea of what type of style they use. After doing all of my research, I write up a draft of the description and send it to my supervisor for review.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to be creative in order to find a solution to a problem at work.

Assistant curators often have to be creative in order to solve problems. This question allows the interviewer to assess your problem-solving skills and how you apply them to a work environment. In your answer, describe a time when you used creativity to find an innovative solution to a challenge or obstacle.

Example: “In my previous role as assistant curator at the museum, I was responsible for organizing several exhibits that were scheduled to open within a few months of each other. One exhibit focused on ancient civilizations while another focused on modern cultures. The two exhibits had very different themes, so it was difficult to create a cohesive experience for visitors.

I decided to use color schemes to tie both exhibits together. For example, we used red to represent fire in the ancient civilization exhibit and yellow to represent sunlight in the modern culture exhibit. By using these colors throughout both exhibits, we created a more cohesive experience for our visitors.”

If hired, what would be your priorities during your first few months on the job?

This question helps employers understand what you hope to accomplish during your first few months on the job. It also gives them insight into how you plan and prioritize tasks. Your answer should include a list of specific goals that you would like to achieve in your first few months at the museum.

Example: “My top priority as an assistant curator is to learn everything I can about the collections, exhibits and programs of this museum. In my first month, I would spend time getting to know the staff members who work here and familiarizing myself with the layout of the facility. During my second month, I would start learning more about the collection itself and begin developing ideas for new exhibits and programming.”

What would you do if you discovered that an artifact in the collection had been mislabeled?

This question can help interviewers assess your attention to detail and ability to follow procedures. In your answer, explain how you would correct the mistake and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Example: “If I discovered a mislabeled artifact, I would first make sure that no one was looking so I could fix the label without anyone seeing me. Then, I would remove the incorrect label and replace it with the proper one. Finally, I would write up an incident report detailing what happened and how I fixed it. This way, we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

How well do you understand the importance of preserving artifacts for future generations?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the importance of curating artifacts and how you would handle situations where an artifact needs preservation. Use examples from your experience that show you understand the value of preserving historical objects for future generations.

Example: “I believe it’s important to preserve artifacts because they can help us learn about our past, which is essential to understanding who we are as a society today. In my last role, I worked with a curator on a project to restore a historic building. The restoration process was long but rewarding, and I learned a lot about the history of the building and its significance in the community.”

Do you have experience organizing and maintaining digital archives of the museum’s collection?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your experience with digital archiving and organizing. Your answer should include a brief description of the software you used for these tasks, as well as how you managed the process.

Example: “I have worked with several different types of digital archive management systems in my previous role as assistant curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. I am familiar with both proprietary and open-source systems such as Omeka, Drupal and WordPress. These tools allow me to organize and maintain large collections of data while also providing easy access to information for other museum staff members.”

When working with other staff members, how do you ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals?

Assistant curators often work with other staff members, including the curator and other assistant curators. The interviewer wants to know how you collaborate with others and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. Use examples from your experience of working in a team environment to show that you can be an effective collaborator.

Example: “I find it important to understand what my colleagues are doing so I can support them when needed. For example, if one colleague was busy preparing for a major exhibition while another was organizing a collection, I would make sure they were both ready by the deadline. This way, we’re all working together to achieve our common goal.”

We want to increase visitor engagement. How would you implement changes to our exhibition schedule or programming to achieve this?

Assistant curators often have the opportunity to make changes to programming and exhibition schedules. This question helps employers understand how you would use your skills to benefit their organization. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to increase visitor engagement. Consider mentioning specific strategies that you’ve used in the past or any ideas you might have for future programs.

Example: “I think one of the best ways to increase visitor engagement is by offering more free events. I noticed that your museum has a lot of paid events, so I would start by creating some free ones. For example, I could create an event where visitors can learn about different types of art while they enjoy snacks. Another idea would be to offer discounts on tickets for families with children.”

Describe your experience working with donors and potential donors.

Assistant curators often work with donors and potential donors to secure funding for exhibits. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience working with people who can help the museum financially. In your answer, explain how you approach these types of conversations. Share a few tips that you’ve learned from previous experiences.

Example: “I find it helpful to start these conversations by learning about the donor’s interests. I try to connect their passions with the exhibit we’re hoping to create. This helps me show them why our organization is important to them. I also like to give donors plenty of options when it comes to giving. For example, if they want to donate money, I offer several different ways they can do so. This way, they feel like they are getting something in return for their donation.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for this assistant curator position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications for the job. They want to know what makes you a good fit for their organization and how you can contribute to its success. Before your interview, make a list of all your relevant skills and experiences that relate to the assistant curator role. Think about which ones are most important for this position and highlight them in your answer.

Example: “I am an ideal candidate for this assistant curator position because I have extensive experience working with art collections. In my previous role as an associate curator, I managed a collection of over 1,000 pieces of artwork. I also have a degree in art history, so I understand the importance of preserving these works of art. Throughout my career, I’ve learned many techniques for maintaining these valuable pieces.”

Which past exhibitions or collections have you most enjoyed working on?

This question can help the interviewer learn more about your interests and how you approach a project. You can highlight an exhibition or collection that was particularly meaningful to you, one that helped you develop professionally or one that contributed to your current institution’s success.

Example: “I really enjoyed working on our recent exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts because I love learning about history and culture. It was also exciting to work with so many different types of objects and materials. The exhibit was very successful for our museum, and it led to increased attendance and donations.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of preserving cultural heritage?

This question can help interviewers understand your passion for the role and how you might approach it. Your answer should show that you value cultural heritage and are willing to do what’s necessary to preserve it.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of preserving cultural heritage is making sure that people have access to it. I believe museums should be free or at least affordable so everyone has a chance to experience them. In my last position, I worked with local schools to create field trips where students could learn about different cultures through art. This helped me connect with the community and make our museum more accessible.”

How often should an exhibition be changed?

This question can help interviewers understand your knowledge of the industry and how you might approach a specific task. When answering, consider what is most important to the organization and use examples from your experience that highlight your ability to adapt to different situations.

Example: “In my previous role as assistant curator at an art museum, I helped change exhibitions every three months. This was because we wanted to keep our visitors engaged with new artwork while also giving artists time to create more pieces for us to display. However, in other museums where I’ve worked, changing exhibitions every six months or even once a year has been common. It really depends on the goals of the institution and the type of exhibition.”

There is a disagreement between two senior curators about the interpretation of an artifact. How do you handle it?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to work with others and resolve conflicts. Your answer should show that you can collaborate with others, respect their opinions and make a decision based on the input of multiple people.

Example: “In my experience, disagreements between curators are common because we all have different perspectives and experiences. I would first listen to both sides of the disagreement and try to understand why each curator has a different interpretation. Then, I would discuss how I could help them come to an agreement or compromise. If they cannot agree, I would decide which interpretation is most appropriate for the museum’s collection.”


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