Museum Management logoCurators are the primary discipline in the NPS Museum Management Program. Curators oversee all aspects of the acquisition, documentation, preservation, and use of park collections. Curators are located in parks, centers, and central offices. They may have specialized knowledge in the subject matter pertinent to the mission of the office in which they work; or specialized training and skills in the use of museum collections in exhibitions and the development of exhibits; or advanced knowledge and abilities in the management of broad museum programs.

Curator (GS-1015)
Following is a list of the competencies and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform in this particular discipline at the Entry, Developmental, and Full Performance levels. The definitions are then followed by a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be effective at each level. The competencies and KSAs of the previous level(s) are also required at the next higher level.

Preservation Law, Philosophy and Practice
Entry Level
Description: At the entry level, curators will typically oversee one aspect of a park or center’s museum management program, or be the sole curator at a park with a small, relatively inactive collection, with few collections management issues. Nonetheless, entry level curators are required to have broad training and/or experience since they will likely be called upon to deal with a variety of issues outside of their primary responsibilities.

    Assists park staff in management of cultural and natural resources.

    Intermediate knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

    Intermediate knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management policies and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

    Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource inventories and their use in the management of cultural and natural resources.


Developmental Level
Description: At this level, the curator will typically be in a park, overseeing all aspects of a park’s museum management program. This level is the minimum required for a fully independent professional in this discipline. Frequently, the curator will be a member of the park’s resource management team. At centers, curators at this level will be responsible for one or more aspects of the museum management program, under the direction of a higher graded curator.

    Assists park staff and management in stewardship of cultural and natural resources.

    Thorough knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

    Thorough knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management policies and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

    Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource inventories and their use in the management of cultural and natural resources.


Full Performance Level (Subject Matter Track)
Description: At the full performance level, the curator with subject matter expertise (SME curator), will be recognized experts in their field. Typically, they will oversee the acquisition, documentation, research, analysis, and use of collections that fall within their areas of expertise. While they may have program management responsibilities or exhibit development responsibilities, these will not be their primary duties. SME curators are, for the museum management program, the equivalent of the research historian or scientist. Generally, these positions will be found in parks or centers with large, complex, active, and specialized collections.

    Serves as a key member of the park resource management team by integrating museum management into the overall program.

    Thorough knowledge of the mission and objectives of the NPS.

    Thorough knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

    Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management policies and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and their interrelationship with the museum program.

    Knowledge and understanding of NPS cultural and natural resource inventories and their use in the management of cultural and natural resources.

    Ability to recognize the interrelationship of all resource management disciplines such as museum services, archeology, cultural landscapes, building preservation, ethnography, natural resource stewardship, and maintenance, and work within this divisional/disciplinary framework towards the joint accomplishment of cultural and natural resource projects and goals.


Full Performance Level (Museum Management Track)
Description: At the full performance level, the curator in the museum management track will typically be the chief curator of a park or center, overseeing the museum management program in all of its aspects. Systems support office curators will also fall into this track. At the park level, this position will generally oversee a large, diverse, and complex collection and museum management program. Typically, this position will deal with program management, especially developing and implementing long-range plans for the documentation, preservation, and use of the park’s collections. In addition, this position will be integrally involved in the planning and program management for all park resources.

    Serves as key member of the cultural resource program, serving as a bridge between the museum program and other park resource programs.

    Thorough knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

    Thorough knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management policies and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

    Professional knowledge of the interdisciplinary process of resource management policies and programs.

    Ability to recognize the interrelationship of all resource management disciplines such as museum services, archeology, cultural landscapes, building preservation, ethnography, natural resource stewardship, and maintenance, and work within this divisional/disciplinary framework towards the joint accomplishment of cultural and natural resource projects and goals.


Full Performance Level (Exhibit Development Track)
Description: The full performance curator in the exhibit development track will have extensive experience and training in the development of museum exhibits. Typically, the primary duties of this position will be planning, design, fabrication, and installation of exhibits using park collections. The position will exist in either parks or centers. In addition to expertise in the duties described above, the curator in this position must have extensive experience in development and management of professional services contracts.

    Participates in the overall management of cultural and natural resources.

    Thorough knowledge and understanding of the mission and objectives of the NPS.

    Thorough knowledge of historic preservation and natural resource stewardship history and philosophy.

    Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management policies and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and their interrelationship with the museum program.

    Knowledge and understanding of NPS cultural and natural resource inventories and their use in the management of cultural and natural resources.

    Ability to recognize the interrelationship of all resource management disciplines such as museum services, archeology, cultural landscapes, building preservation, ethnography, natural resource stewardship, and maintenance, and work within this divisional/disciplinary framework towards the joint accomplishment of cultural and natural resource projects and goals.

Inventory and Research
Entry Level
A. Collections Development

    Assist in developing written museum collecting policy (e.g., Scope of Collection Statement). Provides recommendations(s) for enhancing and expanding the museum collection

    Knowledge of museum collecting policies.

    Ability to implement an approved collecting policy by evaluating museum collections

B. Collections Use

    Assists researchers and park staff to access collections for research, exhibits, interpretation, and publications. Assists in development of exhibits.

    Basic knowledge of intellectual property legislation and NPS policies relating to museum collections.

    Ability to produce finding aids and other access tools to aid researchers.

    Working knowledge of exhibit development and production.

    Ability to review concept plans, specifications, and plans for exhibit production.

    Knowledge of museum education practices.

C. Research

    Conducts or coordinates research into cultural and natural collections, including identification, authentication, appraisal, history and provenance of collections.

    Thorough working knowledge of research tools, techniques, and methods for the documentation of cultural or natural resource collections.

    Knowledge of specific types of cultural or natural resource collections with specialized knowledge of cultural and natural resource collections related to the resources of the park.

    Ability to research collections for a variety of uses, including exhibits, publications, and studies.

D. Collections Documentation

    Conducts or oversees accessioning, cataloging, legal, and other documentation of collections.

    Thorough knowledge of full range of museum documentation practices and procedures, including registration, cataloging, loans, and inventory control.

    Good working knowledge of legal standards for documentation of collections.

    Ability to develop scopes of work for appraisal, cataloging, and other documentation activities.

    Ability to develop and conduct inventory control procedures.

    Advanced knowledge of computerized cataloging and other museum recordkeeping systems and techniques.

E. Computer Skills

    Manages collections databases and other computer records.

    Advanced computer skills, including use of database management systems and NPS collections documentation systems.

    Ability to manipulate data, design and produce access systems applications for analysis of monitoring data.


Developmental Level
A. Collections Development

    Assists in acquiring collections associated with park projects, historically associated with the site, or in support of the park’s mission.

    Ability to identify and evaluate museum collections necessary for fulfillment of park’s mission.

    Ability to write collecting policies based upon thorough knowledge of resources and needs of the park.

    Ability to evaluate museum collections to determine weaknesses and strengths and to plan a strategy for eliminating weaknesses.

B. Collections Use

    Oversees use of collections by researchers. Assists curator in evaluating and implementing exhibits and use of collections in education programs.

    Working knowledge of intellectual property legislation and NPS policies relating to museum collections.

    Functional knowledge of all natural and cultural resource disciplines represented in NPS museum collections.

    Ability to integrate collection information management needs into a cohesive multi-disciplinary access system.

    Comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of museum information management systems in use by the museum profession.

    Ability to comprehensively review exhibit plans for collections management issues and to recommend creative, responsible solutions to these issues.

    Ability to work creatively with exhibit planning, interpretive planning, and educational programming teams to provide access to and use of collections.

    Working knowledge of development and production of electronic exhibits, including digital and Internet features.

C. Research

    Conducts or coordinates research into cultural and natural collections, including identification, authentication, appraisal, history, and provenance of collections.

    Excellent working knowledge of research tools, techniques, and methods for the documentation of cultural or natural resource collections.

    Ability to synthesize sometimes conflicting information from a complex variety of historical evidence.

    Specialized knowledge of cultural and natural resource collections related to the resources of the park.

    Ability to determine the need for research and develop the scope and objectives of the study.

D. Collections Documentation

    Oversees all documentation of collections, including accessioning, cataloging, and legal and other documentation.

    Ability to develop a park-wide collections documentation program.

    Ability to develop loan documentation and tracking procedures and systems.

    Ability to develop a park-wide collections inventory control program.

    Demonstrated ability to plan and conduct complex analyses of and resolve complex problems related to museum documentation and records management, assuring appropriate coordination, input, and review.

    Comprehensive and current knowledge of professional standards and techniques for collections and information management of museum collections.

E. Computer Skills

    Manages collections databases and other computer records.

    Knowledge of advanced computer skills.

    Skill in managing the development and operation of large information management systems.

    Thorough knowledge of hardware operating systems and the principles of automated database management systems and applications for use in NPS collections management.

    Good working knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management databases.


Full Performance Level (Subject Matter Track)
A. Collections Development

    Acquires collections within scope of park collections and within incumbent’s area of expertise.

    Ability to identify and evaluate museum collections necessary for fulfillment of park’s mission.

    Ability to write collecting policies based upon thorough knowledge of resources and needs of the park.

    Ability to evaluate museum collections to determine weaknesses and strengths and to plan a strategy for eliminating weaknesses.

    Ability to analyze the museum collection, identify needs, and develop strategies for acquisition of needed objects or specimens.

    Skill in making connections with collectors, dealers, and other people in order to enhance the museum collection with items that should be acquired.

    Ability to negotiate with potential donors of museum collections.

B. Collections Use

    Directs the use of collections by researchers. Evaluates and implements exhibits and use of collections in education programs.

    Advanced working knowledge of intellectual property legislation and NPS policies relating to museum collections.

    Comprehensive knowledge of professionally acceptable exhibit planning, design and installation, particularly as relates to the integrity and security of museum objects, and the ability to provide alternative suggestions to complex exhibit problems.

    Comprehensive knowledge of NPS interpretive concepts, methods, programs, and policies.

    Knowledge and ability to read, comprehend, and evaluate complex action plans and/or specifications for building, exhibit and systems design and construction, and to provide necessary technical comment concerning the same to management.

    Advanced ability to develop and produce electronic exhibits, including digital and Internet features.

C. Research

    Directs research into cultural and natural collections, including identification, authentication, appraisal, history, and provenance of collections. Conducts research in field of expertise using the park museum collection.

    Knowledge of research techniques and methods in the area of the park’s resources in order to conduct primary and secondary research aimed at expanding the existing knowledge base in support of park management objectives and policies as this relates to documenting and exhibiting items in the park collections.

    Ability to produce management documents, including historical background studies, collection management plans, and furnishings studies and plans.

    Mastery of the research methodologies necessary to conduct complex research required to identify and authenticate objects, or develop new techniques for collection management, preservation, or conservation.

    Extensive knowledge of cultural or natural resource related to the resources of the park, including a wide variety of types of materials.

    Collections Documentation

    Directs documentation of collections, especially in field of expertise.

    Extensive knowledge of professional museum operation, including classification, cataloging, and detailed familiarity with the care and conservation of museum objects.

    Ability to direct the cataloging of museum objects related to field of expertise and provides authentication and appraisal of the collection.

E. Computer Skills

    Directs the use of collections databases and other computer records. Uses systems to conduct research in field of expertise.

    Thorough knowledge and understanding of personal computers and expertise in the use of a number of types of programs, including word processing, desktop publishing, computer-assisted design, and database management.


Full Performance Level (Museum Management Track)
A. Collections Development

    Directs the acquisition of collections associated with park projects, historically with the site, or in support of the park’s mission.

    Skill in evaluating the museum collections to identify those items necessary to fulfill the park’s mission.

    Ability to direct the writing of collecting policies based upon thorough knowledge of resources and needs of the park.

    Skill in evaluating the museum collection to determine weaknesses and strengths and to plan a strategy for eliminating weaknesses.

B. Collections Use

    Establishes use policies for research use of museum collections. Evaluates and implements exhibits and use of collections in education programs.

    Advanced working knowledge of intellectual property legislation and NPS policies relating to museum collections.

    Knowledge of all natural and cultural resource disciplines represented in museum collections.

    Skill in integrating collection information management needs into a cohesive access system.

    Knowledge of museum information management systems in use by the museum profession.

    Ability to review, direct the review, and synthesize comments and concerns of exhibit plans.

    Ability to be a key team member in exhibit planning, interpretive planning, and educational programming to provide access to and use of collections.

    Ability to develop and produce electronic exhibits, including digital and Internet features.

C. Research

    Directs research into cultural and natural collections, including identification, authentication, appraisal, history, and provenance of collections.

    Expert knowledge of research tools, techniques, and methods for the documentation of cultural or natural resource collections.

    Ability to synthesize conflicting information from a complex variety of evidence and makes decisions affecting museum collections.

    Knowledge of specific types of cultural or natural resource collections. Specialized knowledge of cultural and natural resource collections related to the resources of the park.

    Ability to develop scope and objectives of studies and research needed to enhance the collection.

D. Collections Documentation

    Directs the documentation of collections, including accessioning, cataloging, and legal and other documentation.

    Ability to develop and implement a parkwide collections documentation program.

    Ability to develop and implement loan documentation and tracking procedures and systems.

    Ability to develop and implement a parkwide collections inventory control program.

    Ability to plan and conduct complex analyses of and resolves complex problems related to museum documentation and records management.

    Skill in coordinating input and review of documentation and records management systems.

E. Computer Skills

    Directs the management of collections databases and other computer records.

    Knowledge of advanced computer skills.

    Ability to manage the development and operation of large information and image management systems, including image digitization, migration, & access protocols.

    Knowledge of NPS cultural and natural resource management databases and inventories and their use and relationship to museum collections.


Full Performance Level (Exhibit Development Track)
A. Collections Development

    Directs the acquisition of museum collections in direct correlation to the needs of the exhibit programs of the park.

    Ability, as part of writing an exhibit plan, to review a park collection for objects or specimens needed to complete a museum exhibit.

    Ability to identify objects or specimens to be acquired and establish a strategy for their acquisition.

B. Collections Use

    Plans and designs or directs the planning and design of museum collections.

    Ability to develop concepts, design, text, construction specifications, and oversee production of museum exhibits.

    Working knowledge of intellectual property legislation and NPS policies relating to museum collections.

    Ability to work with contractors, including fabricators, conservators, designers, and researchers for the development and production of exhibits, including the development of contracting documents.

C. Research

    Directs or conducts research into collections as related to the identification of museum objects for exhibitions and to ensure correct information in museum exhibits.

    Ability to conduct advanced research into subject matter related to park mission in order to develop exhibits.

D. Collections Documentation

    Documents or directs the documentation of collections used in exhibits.

    Skill in presenting accurate information to the public based upon available museum records.

    Ability to maintain accurate records on location, condition, and use of all museum collection items used in exhibits.

E. Computer Skills

    Uses personal computers in the planning and design of museum exhibits.

    Thorough knowledge of a variety of computer uses in exhibits, including interactive programs.

    Advanced skill in the use of computers to design exhibits.

    Advanced skill in the use of computers to produce labels, publications, and posters.

Preservation, Treatment, and Maintenance
Entry Level
    Assists curator in preservation and protection of museum collections.

    Thorough knowledge of collections preservation principles and techniques (e.g. agents of deterioration and housekeeping techniques).

    Ability to develop environmental and pest monitoring plans and to analyze environmental and other monitoring data.

    Thorough knowledge of museum collection storage techniques and practices.

    Ability to safely pack and ship museum collections.

    Ability to recognize objects needing conservation treatment and to recommend and refer treatment to the appropriate facility.

    Thorough knowledge of museum protection systems, procedures, and practices.


Developmental Level
    Oversees all collections preservation and protection activities.

    Ability to develop a collection storage plan.

    Ability to develop an integrated collections preservation plan.

    Ability to contract for conservation surveys, conservation treatment, and other preservation work.

    Ability to review plans and identify collections management issues and recommend solutions.

    Ability to develop a park-wide collections protection program.

    Ability to develop housekeeping plans.

    Ability to determine the adequacy of environmental conditions, to detect signs of deterioration and wear, to perform as well as supervise routine preservation maintenance of objects, & to recognize conditions that require more extensive conservation treatment.

    Thorough knowledge of emergency preparedness procedures and practices for museum collections.


Full Performance Level (Subject Matter Track)
    Directs all collections preservation and protection activities.

    Knowledge of accepted museum conservation, storage, and exhibit techniques; of approved preparation techniques for all types of objects in storage and exhibit conditions; of approved procedures required for maintenance of collection in storage, museum exhibit, or on exhibit in historic structures; of required museum security measures; of the proper methods of monitoring and recording the deterioration of objects; and of cleaning, repairing, and preventive maintenance treatment techniques.

    Mastery of the professionally accepted museum storage materials and methods, and the ability to adapt these to the challenging conditions found in NPS collections.

    Knowledge of museum protection measures as well as knowledge of proper methods of monitoring, recording, and interpreting environmental data as it relates to the preservation of collections, and knowledge of procedures necessary to limit deterioration of objects through the use of environmental controls.


Full Performance Level (Museum Management Track)
    Establishes and directs all collections preservation and protection activities.

    Knowledge of how museum materials deteriorate, how to recognize the signs of deterioration, and how deterioration can be stopped or minimized; the ability to recognize when natural and cultural objects require the attention of a professional conservator or how to forestall further deterioration.

    Ability to establish comprehensive conservation and preventive maintenance programs to plan for the full preservation of the museum collection.


Full Performance Level (Exhibit Development Track)
    Establishes an exhibit program that ensures the preservation of museum collections.

    Ability to design or ensure that the design of all exhibits meet NPS and professional museum standards for the preservation and protection of all museum collections.

Project and Program Management
Entry Level
    Assists in implementation of museum management program.

    Ability to manage a museum program and to solve problems in innovative as well as traditional ways.

    Knowledge of basic supervisory practices, including personnel management policies and procedures, and skill in motivating a professional and technical staff.

    Ability to prepare scopes of work for procurement of professional services.

    Ability to prepare scopes of work for cooperative agreements to accomplish collections management goals.


Developmental Level
    Manages an extensive program of collections management activities.

    Ability to develop and manage a comprehensive, sustainable, long-term collections management program.

    Ability to plan, design and implement assigned projects independently.

    Thorough knowledge of supervisory practices, including personnel management policies and procedures, and skill in motivating a staff of professional and technical staff.

    Knowledge of planning and programming activities and of potential sources of funding for curatorial programs.

    Ability to develop contracting documents and cooperative agreements.

    Ability to manage contracts and cooperative agreements.

    Knowledge of planning and programming activities and of potential sources of funding for curatorial programs.


Full Performance Level (Subject Matter Track)
    Establishes and directs a park-wide program of collections management activities.

    Knowledge of the budgetary process used by the NPS and the procurement system in order to request and obligate funds. Knowledge of the planning and development procedures required for initiating projects for curatorial management.

    Knowledge of NPS planning and programming activities and of NPS and a variety of potential non-NPS sources of funding for curatorial programs.

    Skills to budget annual needs; to conceptualize, organize and program required work elements; and to exercise sound fiscal management of assigned programs and funds.


Full Performance Level (Museum Management Track)
    Establishes and manages a large and active museum collection management program.

    Thorough working knowledge of the NPS budget process and financial systems and the ability to manage expenditures of funds in a correct and efficient manner.

    Extensive knowledge of project management, particularly the integration of museum projects with other disciplines.

    Knowledge of the full range of NPS planning and programming activities and of potential sources of funding for curatorial activities and object/archival/documentary preservation.


Full Performance Level (Exhibit Development Track)
    Establishes and manages a museum exhibit program.

    Ability to develop and manage an interdisciplinary team or work within a team for development of exhibits. Team may include collections manager, conservator, historian, other subject matter experts, designers, etc.

    Ability to manage contracts and ensure quality of products delivered.

Communications
Entry Level
    Provides curator with documentation and analysis of collections management issues.

    Ability to prepare clear, concise reports documenting and evaluating collections management issues and making recommendations for the resolution of issues.

    Ability to write analytical documentation on a variety of aspects of the collection.

    Ability to critically evaluate studies, planning documents, proposals, and other documents.

    Skill in writing technical documents.


Developmental Level
    Prepares planning documents, survey and valuative reports, and other written documents.

    Ability to prepare clear, concise reports documenting and evaluating collections management issues, and making recommendations for resolution of issues.

    Ability to write analytical documentation on a variety of aspects of the collection.

    Ability to critically evaluate studies, planning documents, proposals, and other documents.


Full Performance Level (Subject Matter Track)
    Directs the preparation of planning documents, survey and valuative reports, and other written documents. Writes reports and other technical documents in field of expertise.

    Ability to work with a wide range of people in complex work and/or social groups, often holding opposing or conflicting attitudes that must be considered, negotiated, and/or altered.

    Ability to compose clear, concise reports, and deliver them both orally and in writing and the ability to work with diverse groups.


Full Performance Level (Museum Management Track)
    Directs the preparation of planning documents, survey and valuative reports, and other written documents and plans.

    Ability to direct the preparation of reports documenting and evaluating collections management issues and resolving issues affecting collections.

    Ability to direct the documentation of analytical reports on a variety of aspects of the collection.

    Skill in critically evaluating studies, planning documents, proposals, and other documents.


Full Performance Level (Exhibit Development Track)
    Prepares or directs the preparation of exhibit plans and other documents related to museum exhibits.

    Ability to write exhibit plans that meet NPS and museum standards.

    Ability to write exhibit label copy.