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Job: Curator of Photographs, Royal Collection

Royal Collection Trust is a department of the Royal Household and the only one that undertakes its activities without recourse to public funds.  It incorporates a charity regulated by the Charity Commission and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, The Royal Collection Trust, and its subsidiary trading company, Royal Collection Enterprises Limited. 

Royal Collection Trust is charged with the care and preservation of the Royal Collection and its presentation to the public.  The Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.  It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts and is spread among some thirteen royal residences and former residences across the UK.  At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions.  Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are regularly made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to broaden public access and to show parts of the Collection in new contexts.  The works of art in the Royal Collection are held by The Queen in trust for her successors and the nation.

Royal Collection Trust is responsible for the management and financial administration of the public opening of Buckingham Palace (including The Queen’s Gallery, the Royal Mews and Clarence House), Windsor Castle (including Frogmore House) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (including The Queen’s Gallery).  The monies generated from admissions, and from associated commercial activities, are invested in the care and conservation of the Royal Collection and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.

The photograph collection is responsible for all photographic items in the Royal Collection, including photographic prints, negatives, films and photographic equipment – over 450,000 items in all. It consists of material from the 1840s to the present day, including both official and personal photographs acquired by the royal family, including living members of the Royal Family. The collection also contains photographic material acquired by departments of the Royal Household. The collection is of international significance. The responsibilities of the collection include all matters relating to care, conservation, access and control of sensitive material, exhibitions, cataloguing, maintenance of records and research. The majority of the items are located at Windsor Castle, although there are photographs in all royal residences. It does not cover photographic material located in the Picture Library (although this material may at a later date be transferred to the photograph collection).


Reporting and Working Relationships

Reporting to the Senior Curator of Photographs, the post holder works closely with the Curatorial Teams from the Library and the Print Room as well as the Collections Information Assistants, the cataloguer, and all volunteer and work experience staff.  

Externally, the post holder will have contact with museum and gallery curators, media (press & broadcast), researchers, and members of the public.

Job Purpose

To support the Senior Curator of Photographs in the smooth running of the section, working closely with all Collections Information Assistants, the cataloguer, and all volunteer and work experience staff, being required to assist them on a day-to-day basis and to supervise them in the Senior Curator’s absence.

The post holder is responsible supporting the Senior Curator of Photographs in all matters relating to the care, custodial control, conservation, cataloguing, research and access in relation to photographs located in the occupied and unoccupied royal residences. 

Job Dimensions

The Curator of Photographs has no managerial or budgetary responsibilities.

Principal Accountabilities

  • To ensure the proper custodial control, accommodation and conservation of this part of the Royal Collection
  • To provide appropriate access to this part of the Collection, through visits, exhibitions, exhibition loans, publications or other means (both broadcast and new media) to this part of the Royal Collection
  • To advise on acquisitions and commissions
  • To liaise with curatorial staff from the Print Room, the Library and the conservation section and other staff on joint project work (this may include Health and Safety, environmental controls, cataloguing standards, loans, displays for Dine and Sleep and State Visits and other special group visits)
  • To work with other sections within the Royal Collection and the Royal Household to ensure that the objectives of the collection and the household are advanced and implemented
  • To ensure that environmental controls, custodial controls, storage, and all matters relating to the preservation of the collection are responsibly managed, including planning for the future
  • To ensure that records pertaining to the photograph collection are properly maintained, and to contribute to the enhancement of those records (paper and electronic)


Decision Making Responsibilities

 The post holder is expected to resolve most issues within the photograph section and will have day-to-day independence for decision making but will refer complex issues to the Senior Curator of Photographs.


Practical Requirements

Principally based at Windsor Castle, the post holder will be contracted to work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday, 0900-1730. However, due to the nature of the role they will frequently be required to travel and work at other locations and to be flexible regarding working hours.


Person Specification (Skills, Experience & Competencies)


  • A sound understanding of photographic history and processes from 1839 to the present day
  • Previous curatorial experience
  • A good understanding of modern conservation practice in relation to photography
  • A degree in the history of art or a related subject
  • General knowledge of 19th- and 20th-century British and European history and history of art
  • An eye for detail and extremely high standards of presentation
  • Sound judgement about the appropriateness of loan requests and the ability to handle sensitive issues with care and diplomacy
  • Outstanding communication skills and the ability to represent the Royal Collection Trust with credibility and authority both internally and externally
  • The ability to prepare text for publication to international academic standards
  • Experience of proposing and preparing exhibitions
  • Advanced IT skills (including MS Office)
  • The ability to work under pressure, particularly due to the public-facing nature of many of the responsibilities


  • A postgraduate degree in a relevant subject
  • Experience in proposing and curating exhibitions
  • A valid UK/EU driving licence
  • A working knowledge of one or more major European language (specifically French, Italian or German)

Closing date: 21 June 2013.


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