Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., archive, gallery, library, museum, or garden) is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and, together with a publications specialist, their associated collections catalogs. The object of a traditional curator's concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it be inter alia artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. More recently, new kinds of curators are emerging: curators of digital data objects, and biocurators.
In the United Kingdom, the term curator is also applied to government employees who monitor the quality of contract archaeological work under Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning (PPG 16) and are considered to manage the cultural resource of a region. In the museum setting, a curator in the United Kingdom may also be called a "keeper".
More recently, advances in new technologies has led to a further widening of the role of curator. This has been focused in major art institutions internationally and has become an object of academic study and research. In contemporary art, the title curator is given to a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator often is responsible for writing labels, catalog essays, and other supporting content for the exhibition. Such curators may be permanent staff members, be "guest curators" from an affiliated organization or university, or be "freelance curators" working on a consultant basis. The late twentieth century saw an explosion of artists organizing exhibitions. The artist-curator has a long tradition of influence. Notable among these was Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the Royal Academy, London.
In some American organizations, the term curator is also used to designate the head of any given division of a cultural organization. This has led to the proliferation of titles such as "Curator of Education" and "Curator of Exhibitions". This trend has increasingly been mirrored in the United Kingdom in such institutions as Ikon, Birmingham, UK and Baltic, Gateshead, UK.
In Australia and New Zealand, the person who prepares a sports ground for use (especially a cricket ground) is known as a curator. This job is equivalent to that of groundsman in some other cricketing nations.
In smaller organizations, a curator may have sole responsibility for the acquisition and care of objects. The curator will make decisions regarding what objects to collect, oversee their care and documentation, conduct research based on the collection, provide proper packaging of art for transport, and share that research with the public and scholarly community through exhibitions and publications. In very small volunteer-based museums, such as local historical societies, a curator may be the only paid staff member.
In larger institutions, the curator's primary function is as a subject specialist, with the expectation that he or she will conduct original research on objects and guide the organization in its collecting. Such institutions can have multiple curators, each assigned to a specific collecting area (e.g. Curator of Ancient Art, Curator of Prints and Drawings, etc.) and often operating under the direction of a head curator. In such organizations, the physical care of the collection may be overseen by museum collections managers or museum conservators, and documentation and administrative matters (such as insurance and loans) are handled by a museum registrar
*makna dari kamus dewan edisi empat maksud kurator ialah
1.pengurus (pemegang amanah) harta benda orang dll yg muflis (jatuh bankrap); 2. anggota jawatankuasa pengelola (universiti dll); 3. pengurus atau penyelenggara muzium: ~ Muzium Negara.