Historic House Museums range from castles to cottages from all periods. The interpretation of house museums includes historic, architectural, cultural, artistic and social information. The curation of a house museum includes questions of conservation, restoration and security, the interpretation of the history of the house, its owners and its collections, as well as the communication to visitors.
A historic house museum curator is an all-rounder with a wide range of knowledge and ability, who takes a pragmatic approach to his or her task. He or she has to be a flexible person, able and willing to run a one-man/woman show. Resources are usually limited.
A curator will be educated to university degree standard in one of the following:
• Art history
He or she has a keen interest and the ability to learn about:
Conservation of architecture as well as all materials involved in a house museum such as textiles, paintings and wood sculptures, different metals, glass, ceramics, paper. An interest in the history of garden design can be useful.
Collections management: he or she has to have knowledge about registration of collections, conservation and climate control.
Interpretation: an academic who is able to work out a convincing concept of interpretation and can realize an attractive exhibition respecting the house and its setting.
Communication: a communicative person, who finds the right way to communicate to a large public, politicians, members of the original owner family and professionals. The curator will be well aware of all services, which visitors expect.
Marketing: The ability to increase the visibility of the house through all aspects of tourism.
Sustainable management: He or she is well aware of the peculiarities of a house museum and its setting and is creative in finding new ways of attracting paying visitors, friends and sponsors to keep the house a place of attraction without endangering its architecture and collections. He or she knows common management tools (strategic plans, budgets, people skills).
Cultural events and ventures: he or she is open to ventures in a responsible way and has creative ideas for events in connection with the history of the house.
Resource: ICOM / Daniela Ball