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Difference between Curators and Conservators

Difference between Curators and Conservators

Museums have both curators and conservators on their staff. But what is the difference between the two positions? Curators are in charge of acquisitions, organizing exhibits, and researching the items in the collection. Conservators are responsible for preserving and repairing objects in the collection. So which position is more important? The answer depends on the museum. Some museums might rely more heavily on their conservators while others may place more importance on their curators. No matter which role is more important, both are essential to running a successful museum.

Who are Curators?

  • Curators are responsible for the care and management of collections of objects, works of art, documents, and other materials. They may work in a variety of settings, including museums, galleries, libraries, and archives.
  • Curators typically develop and implement exhibitions and educational programs; conduct research; acquire new collections, and preserve existing collections.
  • In order to perform their duties effectively, curators must have a strong knowledge of the history and structure of their collections. They must also be skilled in communication, research, and project management. Curators play a vital role in ensuring that collections are well-maintained and accessible to the public.

Who are Conservators?

Conservators are professional caretakers of collections of cultural heritage materials. Their roles can vary depending on the type of institution they work for, but generally, their work focuses on three main areas: preventive conservation, examination and documentation, and treatment.

  • In preventive conservation, conservators work to minimize the degradation of materials by creating and implementing storage and display strategies that control environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and pests.
  • Examination and documentation are other important aspect of a conservator’s work. This involves carefully inspecting objects to look for signs of damage or deterioration, and documenting their condition in order to create a record that can be used for future reference.
  • Conservators also carry out treatments on objects when necessary. This might involve cleaning or stabilizing an object so that it can be safely displayed or handled.

Conservators use a variety of specialized skills and knowledge in order to carry out their work, making them an essential part of any institution that houses collections of cultural heritage materials.

Difference between Curators and Conservators

  • Curators and Conservators are both responsible for the care of museum collections. Curators are responsible for the overall management of the collection, while conservators are responsible for the preservation and conservation of the objects in the collection.
  • Curators typically have a background in art history or anthropology, while conservators typically have a background in science. Curators develop exhibitions and public programming, conduct research on the objects in the collection, and acquire new objects for the museum.
  • Conservators clean and stabilize objects, prevent damage from pests and mold, and repair damaged objects. They also provide advice on storage and environmental conditions to minimize the risk of damage to the objects. Curators and conservators work together to ensure that the museum collections are well-maintained and accessible to the public.


The difference between curators and conservators is an important distinction to make when considering the care of art. Curators are responsible for assembling collections, while conservators preserve and protect works of art. Both roles are essential in order to maintain a museum’s collection, but it is important to understand the different functions they serve.

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