Gallery Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a gallery assistant. Read on to get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and career outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

A gallery assistant might work in a private art gallery or in a public facility. Their duties can be broad in scope, but often include tasks related to administration, correspondence, and customer service. Many gallery assistants have a bachelor's degree in a related subject, such as art history.

Essential Information

Gallery assistants aid staff members with administrative and creative tasks. Their duties range from managing correspondence to monitoring visitors. They are typically responsible for special events, the safety of the gallery's collection and the gallery's computer systems. They also manage communication with visitors and other outside parties. Assistants may help setup and breakdown exhibits and coordinate on- and off-site events. Gallery assistants are generally extremely organized, detail-oriented and highly educated, often possessing at least a bachelor's degree in art history or a related area. They may work in private galleries or large, public facilities.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in art history or related area
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (for set and exhibit designers); 3% (for secretaries and administrative assistants, excluding legal, medical and executive)
Median Salary (2015)* $49,530 (for set and exhibit designers); $33,910 (for secretaries and administrative assistants, excluding legal, medical and executive)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Gallery Assistant Job Duties

Gallery assistants handle phone traffic, prepare purchase orders and coordinate events and exhibits. During regular hours and special events, gallery assistants ensure that the gallery is clean and that visitors follow the rules. They are responsible for monitoring and keeping artwork safe while the gallery is open.

Assistants often staff the front desk at their galleries. They greet visitors, answer questions and field sales inquiries. Because they are often the first people visitors encounter at a gallery, assistants must be personable, knowledgeable about artists and exhibits and have the ability to remember names and faces. They promote current and upcoming exhibits and ensure that visitors do not damage any works in the gallery.

Gallery assistants typically help with the physical installation of exhibits. This may include painting or repairing walls and pedestals, allocating display materials and removing artwork when an exhibit is over. They may also operate audio-visual equipment and keep the gallery's website and social media outlets up to date.

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Job Responsibilities for a Gallery Assistant

Generally, gallery assistants are responsible for managing a gallery's information technology and computer systems. They must be proficient in the software that is used at their gallery, including photo-editing programs.

If gallery staff members conduct research projects, assistants help coordinate resources and maintain information. They need strong communication skills to work with gallery staff and outside parties on long-term projects.

Many galleries participate in art fairs and attend or host special events. Gallery assistants are required to manage applications and logistical matters associated with off-site events. They may be responsible for coordinating and mailing invitations or assisting with publicity for events at their gallery.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS), gallery assistants fulfill many duties attached to both exhibit designers and administrative assistants. In 2015, set and exhibit designers earned an annual median salary of $49,530, while secretaries and administrative assistants, excluding legal, medical and executive, brought home a median of $33,910. From 2014-2024, jobs for set and exhibit designers were expected to increase by 7%, per the BLS. During that same decade, employment for secretaries and administrative assistants (excluding legal, medical and executive) was predicted to grow by 3%.

Gallery assistants are required to monitor visitors during regular hours and ensure that all artwork remains untouched. They need to be able to provide visitors with details about artists and specific paintings, and they have to promote current and upcoming events at the gallery. Gallery assistants also help with setting up and tearing down exhibits.

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