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Behind the Scenes of Working in a Gallery
There is more than to sit behind a desk in silence while people mooch around eyeing up the art.
Career 21 Mar 2023

Ferris Buller’s day off via Detroit Metro Times

An art gallery job is a great option for those who are passionate about art (which you probably are if you are reading The Art Gorgeous) and interested in learning about its many ins and outs. If you are interested in working in an art gallery, you may have lots of questions of where to even begin. Here we demystify how to get your foot in a gallery door, literally and figuratively.

First things first, what types of art gallery positions are out there?

The common misconception is that there is only one role in an art gallery. That is to sit behind a desk in silence while people mooch around eyeing up the art. The reality is there are many roles within a gallery, and not all of them are even art-focused. There’s the gallery associate role, porter, events coordinator, social media manager, receptionist, curator, office manager… the list goes on and on. So, before you dive head first into your job hunt you need to figure out which role would suit you the best.

Time to hone in your interests.

To try and begin to figure out which part of working in a gallery most appeals to you, start exploring! Become a member of local museums, attend gallery openings, ask your peers and mentors about your strengths and weaknesses.  In short, it’s time to do some deep soul searching into what makes you happy and what you should strive in.

Volunteer First

A great step to sharpen your art skills before you begin your career is by doing an internship. As well as enriching your art education, this practice can also help you make contacts in the art world. Plus, not only will an internship help you grow your network and give you a new set of skills, you will also get the chance to figure out which role you would like to go for. More importantly, it will help you find out if a career in the art world is even the right path to take by gaining some first-hand experience in the field.

Embrace social media.

Most galleries use social media to advertise their current going ons, including job openings. Don’t be afraid to use social media to reach out and make new connections in the art world. Its time to do some A grade stalking!

Stand out from the crowd

This does not mean showing up to your interview dressed in a wacky outfit. By standing out from the crowd we mean don’t just have an obvious love for art, show that you can do other things, too. Develop skills in areas like social media, web programming, graphic design and/or photography. A great way to gain these new skills at a low price or even for free is by learning online. You can find plenty of free courses to take here. Employers often rely on their employees to work across the gallery as receptionists, salespeople, and in marketing. If you are young or inexperienced, these skills can really help to market yourself and land you a dream job in the process.

Develop important skills

Although there is a lot of variation in the types of positions you can find at an art gallery, one thing remains the same, the ability to work across different departments. Some of the skills that are important to any type of gallery position are, knowledge of the industry, communication skills, and organisational skills.

The Hunt 

As with any industry, the art world has its own publications. Familiarise yourself with these art publications, blogs and websites. Subscribe to them, like The Art Gorgeous weekly newsletters so that you are current on trends within the industry, as well as job openings and opportunities. A great way to be seen is to post your resume online, on platforms like The Dots and Behance. This way you will become more visible to many galleries.

And finally, ask for advice.

Reach out to people in the field and ask for advice. Who knows that person may know a place or be looking for a new employee?
Good Luck!

Text by Peigi Mackillop

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