Career Profile of Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

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A gallery archivist manages the archives of the gallery and its artists. Image courtesy Michael Blann / Getty Images

Job Description of Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

An Art Gallery Assistant Archivist works full-time in an art gallery, assisting the Archivist in maintaining digital files and material archives for the gallery’s stable of artists.

Education Needed to Be an Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

To work in an Art Gallery as an Assistant Archivist usually requires a Bachelor’s degree in art, which makes this an ideal job for artists or newly-graduated art students.

Duties Required to Be an Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

An Assistant Archivist is highly organized, meticulous, and extremely detail-oriented. Duties include assisting the Art Gallery’s Archivist in maintaining a complete set of records and archives for the gallery, which includes computer database files, printed catalogs and other materials related to both the gallery and each artist who is represented by the gallery.

An Assistant Archivist helps in recording and compiling a full documentation of all the artworks in the gallery’s inventory and recording the artwork’s title, medium, date, provenance, exhibition and publication history, among other data.

Photography is another key duty for the Assistant Archivist, who assists with in-house photography in the gallery and coordinating professional photography outside the gallery, to ensure that all gallery and art fair exhibitions, and other installations have all been photo-documented.

Obtaining images and image rights, plus dealing with various reproduction requests from museums, publishers, and other institutions are also necessary duties for this position. 

An Assistant Archivist helps to maintain a complete archive of the gallery’s and the artists’ inventory, plus compiling press clips and press packages for each artist, and combining data from museums and other institutions which exhibits the artists’ works.

An Assistant Archivist helps the Archivist and gallery staff to research and compile every single bit of information that has been published on the artist and relating to the artist’s work, including artist talks, lectures, seminars and any and all exhibitions, in order to make the archive as comprehensive as possible.

Skills Required to Be an Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

An Art Gallery Assistant Archivist usually has had some experience working in an art gallery or museum, or working as an artist’s assistant and has some hands on experience in working with the management of digital and physical archives.

Being proficient with computer programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Acrobat Pro, and art management databases such as ArtBase is required, plus being able to handle video codecs and create DVDs.

Career Opportunities for Art Gallery Assistant Archivists

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics:  “Overall employment of archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022...” The increasing interest in museums by the public and the growth in archives create a need for highly skilled arts professionals such as archivists.

How to Be Hired as an Art Gallery Assistant Archivist

Art galleries may post job listings online or in print.

Often, job openings may be known by word of mouth, which is why it is important for arts professionals to live in areas where there is a thriving art gallery culture.

Submitting a cover letter and resume is usually the first step in a job application, which may be followed up by a face-to-face interview.

Further Info on Art Gallery Assistant Archivists

Fine Art offers many articles on the various careers for arts professionals. Here are a few related to art galleries:

Further Resources

The following weblinks are for online job listings for art related jobs such as an Art Gallery Assistant Archivist. Please note that these job listings have deadlines, and that the data is constantly changing.