Generally a curator has responsibility for a museum's collections. An exhibition is said to be curated by the person who selects the objects on display. Museum workers may specialise in some particular aspect such as conservator or education officer but it is the curator who selects the objects to be added to the permanent collection. People sometimes claim they have given something to a museum, rather they have offered it and the curator has accepted it as being worthy of being added to the collection.
Initially, Burnley Corporation did not employ a curator at Towneley. Rather a sub-committee was appointed to manage the museum including choosing objects for the collections . A caretaker was employed to watch over the building and attend to the visitors. The first caretaker was John MacKay. He retired in 1931 and was replaced by William Tomlinson.
Tomlinson was given the title of curator in 1944 and his views were taken into account by the sub-committee regarding purchases and donations but it was not until 1971 with the appointment of John Blundell that the curator was given full responsibility for the collections following approval of a collections development policy.
List of curators:
- W. Tomlinson 1944 to 1951
- W. H. Proctor 1951 to 1953
- H. C. Thornton 1953 to 1971
- J. D. Blundell 1971 to 1972
- H. R. Rigg 1972 to 1988
- J. S. Bourne 1988 to 2010
- M. S. Townend 2010 to present