Public galleries provide audiences with opportunities to engage with the visual arts, creating a sense of connection and community, reducing social isolation, improving health and education outcomes and enriching the lives of those they reach. This is achieved by a dedicated group of gallery professionals who bring a vast range of skills and experience and adhere to international standards, to deliver exciting visual art experiences, commission new work and care for nationally significant collections of art and cultural materials.
The PGAV is pleased to highlight eight roles within the public gallery sector and the people who occupy these specialist positions. Learn about their career pathways, the challenges inherent in their roles, and what they identify as the key issues facing the public gallery sector.
* A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.
Australian Council of Professions, 2003
Director & CEO
"One of the ironies about being a Director, well, certainly something that has guided my approach, is to remember that just as your staff team is working with and for you, you are working for them."
Bendigo Art Gallery
"I think in the era of ‘experienced based culture’ maintaining relevance and the ability to be responsive and agile to the market is challenging – particularly in institutions that are historic, and collection based."
Heide Museum of Modern Art
"Deep knowledge of art and curatorial practice, and business and finance experience and acumen are not necessarily mutually exclusive, however, there is much potential benefit to having two minds and skill sets working in concert in the gallery/art museum environment."
Koorie Heritage Trust
"As experienced curators, we are conditioned to exhibitions being installed and deinstalled. However, sometimes it is very emotional to see an exhibition be deinstalled as the relationship with the artist/s is really valued but overall, it is always a genuine feeling of achievement, in being able to showcase First Peoples art and culture."
Curator - Indigenous
Shepparton Art Museum (SAM)
"[A] big part [of the role] for me is to enable connections to be made. Whether it be between visitors and the art, or artists and visitors it’s about seeing connections made through spirit, story, place and people - this is an Aboriginal way."
Registrar - Exhibitions and Loans
Art Gallery of Ballarat
"I particularly enjoy the pointy end of the process when exhibitions staff are working to the line to finesse the presentation of a show. I love the energy and anticipation of the half hour before an exhibition finally opens, listening to the excited hum of patrons gathering to enjoy and hopefully be inspired and edified by the fruits of our labours."
With Ainsley Gowing, Registrar at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.
"The role requires a sound understanding of preventative conservation and the composition of the work of art you are caring for as well as art history. Having a holistic vision of the processes to pull an exhibition together that you are working is important to ensuring the safety for the work art."
With Penny Teale, Senior Curator at Bunjil Place Gallery.
"Developing a range of associated programming for both adult and young audiences, from multilingual labels and tours to coming up with creative ways to share information that removes barriers and encourages a stronger, more meaningful dialogue with audiences is a really rewarding part of the job. We spend a lot of time considering methods and programs that speak to the specifics of an artist’s practice or exhibition premise."
With Andrew Tetzlaff, Senior Curator at RMIT Culture.
"Coming up with the idea and project rationale is really just one part of the equation—a more important part is the work put into figuring out how to take someone on the journey to it.
I’m particularly excited about the project I’m working on at the moment in partnership with The Big Anxiety festival. The exhibition, Archives of Feeling, explores how creativity can be used to reclaim complex experiences of distress, depression and trauma. It is a complex exhibition, but an incredibly important one."
The Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the lands where our office is located, and all Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and Australia. We recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enduring traditions and continuing creative cultures. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.