Chief Curator

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) seeks a creative leader with expertise in modern and contemporary art and design.

The ideal candidate will possess a sense of adventure and creativity with a sophisticated understanding of art, design and museum curatorial principles and practices. They will have demonstrated experience as a thoughtful risk taker with a record of converting vision into working programs and a track record of inventive exhibitions. They will be familiar with and excited by new technologies, on-line experiences and new fields of study such as digital humanities. They’ll be known for their collaborative approach, flexibility, collegiality, and enthusiasm for sharing art, design, and creativity with a varied constituency. They will have superior presentation skills and demonstrate strong leadership presence and willingness to engage and connect with a variety of stakeholders, including the Museum Board, Accessions Committee, colleagues, a diverse set of external partners, and the general public. They will possess the highest ethical standards, and strong leadership skills including: strategic thinking; financial acumen; organizational effectiveness; and a passion for staff development.

Chief Curator Job Responsibilities:
Curatorial & Programming

  • Lead the development of a balanced and dynamic exhibition program.
  • Organize original exhibitions and identify and coordinate incoming traveling exhibitions.
  • Focus on late 19th-century to contemporary art and design.
  • Collaborate with the Leadership Team and curatorial staff.
  • Lead the growth and enhancement of the permanent collection.
    • Opportunity to develop the collection and leave a legacy.
    • Cultivate collectors, donors, and artists.
    • Serve as staff liaison to the Accessions Committee of the Board on matters related to the collections, providing recommendations for accessions and de-accessions.
  • Lead presentation and new interpretations of the collection, in concert with education and curatorial staff.
  • Collaborate in the preparation of interpretive materials for new exhibitions, multimedia scripts, brochure texts, and catalogues.
  • Collaborate with the programing team to ensure alignment of the curatorial vision with GRAM’s interpretive, guest-services, and community-outreach goals.
  • Provide programming support (lectures, workshops, etc.), as required.
  • Perform other duties as required to ensure the effective operation of the Museum’s Curatorial department and to fulfill GRAM’s Mission.
Leadership & Administration

  • Serve as a member of the Museum’s Leadership Team and participate in Executive/Finance Committee and full Board meetings.
  • Supervise the Curatorial department, including 2 curatorial staff, the registrar, and 4 collections management/preparation staff.
  • Develop, implement, and manage budgets and resources for department and related Museum-wide programs.
  • Partner with Advancement Department on donor cultivation and development of grant proposals.
  • Represent the Museum in the community and in professional organizations to pro-actively enhance GRAM’s relationships with the creative community, the general public, and other institutions locally, regionally, and nationally.
Required Skills and Abilities:
  • Deep and current knowledge of art and design in one’s specialty, within the period of 1850 to today.
  • Strong knowledge of museum curatorial principles and practices.
  • A track record of creativity evidenced by developing successful exhibitions. A thoughtful risk-taker who can convert vision into working programs and inventive exhibitions — not necessarily cutting-edge, but balanced to expose broad audiences to the best.
  • Enthusiasm for sharing art, design, and creativity with multiple constituencies. Enjoys introducing contemporary and less familiar art and ideas to broad general audiences.
  • Collaborative approach, with the flexibility and collegiality to engage and connect with a variety of stakeholders, including colleagues and peers, the Museum Board, Accessions Committee, volunteers, varied external partners, and the general public.
  • Ability to collaborate with Learning and Audience Engagement Department and to build and welcome regional and national audiences.
  • Familiarity with and open to using new technologies, on-line experiences, and new fields of study such as digital humanities.
  • A mentor with passion for staff development.
  • Superior communications skills, both written and verbal.
  • Leadership skills, including strategic thinking, organizational effectiveness, and stretching a budget.

Experience and Qualifications:
  • Minimum of 7 years of curatorial experience. Two years or more of management–level museum experience preferred.
  • Track record of effective exhibitions, including shows that were well attended and received by the general public, as well as by peers.
  • Advanced degree preferred in Art History or related field with concentration on art or design since 1850. Bachelor’s Degree in field required.
  • Experience and interpersonal skills to approach donors and work with trustees.

How to Apply

• Apply in confidence. Send résumé, cover letter including a narrative describing interest in and experience for this particular job, salary requirement, and names with contact information of 3 references to: by April 14, 2014. Nominations welcome.

• GRAM is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to diversity.[/spoiler]

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Focusing on art, design, and creativity, GRAM will provide diverse platforms for experiences, ideas, and dialogue that enrich the human spirit and teach practical learning skills. Through dynamic exhibitions, collections, learning initiatives, and community collaborations, GRAM will increasingly serve as a cultural beacon and civic anchor.

Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.