High school activities that may give you useful experience include forming and managing an art club. You could also volunteer as a docent at a local art museum or apply for an internship at a local gallery. Ask your art teacher to help you arrange an information interview with a gallery owner or director.
Gallery directors are responsible for every phase of a gallery's operation. They often are one of the first employees to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. The duties of gallery directors vary according to the type of art sold (if it is a for-profit gallery), the size of the gallery, and the number of employees. Their duties include working with artists and the public; researching and organizing exhibitions; writing catalog or brochure copy for exhibitions; setting up exhibitions; hiring, training, and supervising employees; maintaining the physical surroundings of the gallery; hosting gallery tours; selling artwork (at for-profit galleries); monitoring expenditures and receipts; fund-raising (at nonprofit galleries); corresponding with clients and artists; and marketing the gallery and its artists to the public (including writing press releases, being interviewed by the media, and updating the gallery's Web site). In small galleries, directors may handle all of these tasks. In large galleries that employ more staff, however, directors may be involved in only a few of these activities.
Gallery owners, especially those who own smaller galleries that are not managed by a gallery director, perform many or all of the aforementioned duties. They typically work longer hours based on the fact they have to do all the tasks that a normal business owner has to do (such as payroll, hiring and supervising employees, budgeting for new acquisitions to the gallery, collecting payments) in addition to showing artwork.
Owners and directors should be good at working with all different kinds of people. Differences of opinion and personality clashes among employees are inevitable; therefore, they must be able to restore good feelings among the staff. Owners and directors may have to deal with difficult or upset customers, and must attempt to restore goodwill toward the gallery when customers are dissatisfied.