Duties and responsibilities
A ‘collection’ means a group of related items held by a museum. These related items may be organized by donor, artist, time period of discipline. Collection managers are responsible for overseeing the preservation of these collections. They have key duties and responsibilities such as:
- Completing inventories of every item that is assigned to the collection. In these inventories, the item is measured, evaluated, described and photographed
- Cataloging and keeping track of holdings
- Controlling the environment to make sure there is not too much dust, light exposure of fluctuations in temperature
- Ensuring that each item is taken good care of
- Examining objects for potential exhibition or loan considerations. They will determine the objects conditions, fragility levels and special requirements
- Managing the institutions database for the documentation or objects
Generally, most institutions require that a collections manager has an undergraduate degree in their speciality area, such as art, history or archeology. It is likely that collection managers will face strong competition for jobs, therefore they may want to consider achieving a masters degree to give them the best opportunities.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the relevant education, collections managers will need skills and talents such as:
- Attention to detail, because collection managers must carefully inspect objects and note down every small detail
- Organization skills, as collection managers will need to ensure that all objects are stored correctly and that they are stored in the correct location
- Written communication skills, as collection managers must be able to keep databases up-to-date
- Interpersonal skills, as collection managers must be able to communicate with other staff and build relationships with them
Many collection managers will work normal full time hours. On occasion, they may have to work evenings and weekends to meet exhibition deadlines.
According to glassdoor the average annual salary of a collections manager in the United States is $46,043. At the lower end, collections managers earn around $26,000 per year. Whereas, at the higher end they earn around $68,000 per year.
A museum collections manager has progressed up from a curator. With more experience and knowledge, they may become collection managers of larger, and more established, collections.