There is no one path to success as a curator of contemporary art—but that doesn’t prevent many top experts from having strong opinions.
Brian Boucher April 2, 2018
Top curators, including Thelma Golden, Harald Szeemann, Marcia Tucker, and more.
These days, it feels like you can’t swing a canvas tote without hitting a newly credentialed curator. As art institutions expand and biennials proliferate, the population of curators has grown in lockstep. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now more than 12,400 full-time curators in America.
That figure is only expected to grow. The bureau has estimated that the number of people practicing the profession will increase by 14 percent between 2016 and 2026—twice the average growth rate for jobs in the US.
But for many, the path to a full-time curator gig is not linear. Curators who specialize in contemporary art, in particular, lack an obvious trajectory. How do you become an expert in art that may not even exist yet?