Senior Curator position at Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Posted: Feb 10, 2022
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) at the University of Utah embraces art’s power to promote justice and create meaningful connections in people’s lives. We seek a Senior Curator to join our effort and shared commitment to this idea and help us rethink and improve our practices in innovative and creative ways. The Museum’s next Senior Curator will join a dynamic, healthy organization that has successfully weathered the global pandemic and is experiencing a vibrant and active reopening. The Senior Curator will lead a significant and committed effort, guided by the UMFA’s mission, core values, and strategic goals, to rethink and re-envision curatorial practice in the 21st century through a lens of anti-racism, diversity, inclusion and equity. In the coming years, we will build on important work already begun to increase the diversity of artists in the collection, to broaden current thinking about art and museums, to dismantle outmoded ways of working, and to forge a truly community-engaged curatorial practice appropriate for a high-functioning regional art museum.
The Senior Curator reports to the Museum’s Deputy Director of Planning and Program, with frequent conversation with the Executive Director, and is a member of the senior management team, providing leadership, strategic direction, stewardship, administrative, and managerial oversight for the Museum’s curatorial department. The incumbent will have primary day-to-day responsibility for working cross-departmentally to creatively utilize the collections and exhibitions to engage audiences and expand participation. Due to the breadth of the UMFA’s collection and the timing of this opportunity, the Senior Curator may have expertise in a range of subject matter including, but not limited to, global contemporary art, Oceanic art, African art, American art, or European art. Serving as a cultural change agent and conduit for translating the Museum’s overall artistic and curatorial vision into action, the successful candidate will set the tone and prioritize collaborative and community-engaged practices. They will act as a conduit between the public and the Museum, developing interpretative materials in collaboration with UMFA museum educators, bringing external views to the Museum’s attention, and building long-term partnerships between the Museum and community groups.
ABOUT THE UMFA and THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
Located on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, the UMFA serves public and university audiences and is the only institution in the Intermountain West region that collects, exhibits, interprets, and cares for an extensive collection of original artworks representing a diverse range of global cultures from ancient to contemporary. College and university art museums are uniquely positioned to add value and vibrancy to a holistic campus experience and the UMFA is no exception. Since 1914, the Museum has been an important part of the University of Utah’s diverse and dynamic community of students, faculty, and staff. The UMFA plays an active role in encouraging people to think differently and helping visitors from across our community to explore and develop thoughtful and empathetic social awareness.
As an institution, the UMFA’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) reflects the aim to be a museum where communities find themselves represented, welcomed, engaged, and heard. By prioritizing this work and embracing it as an essential part of what we do every day, we aim to challenge outdated and racist institutional norms of collecting, exhibition-making, education programming, communications, community engagement, and internal/external practices. These are all aspects of museum work that, if left unchecked, perpetuate colonialist, supremacist, and exclusionary frameworks and biases. Candidates with a firm understanding and commitment to this institutional position are encouraged to apply. The successful candidate may have curatorial experience in a broad range of different kinds of art represented in the collection.
The University of Utah is a tier-one teaching and research institution that emphasizes an extraordinary collaborative learning experience and offers a unique and inspiring environment to work and play. The U generates and shares new knowledge, discoveries, and innovations, and engages local and global communities to promote education, health, and quality of life. The U is committed to celebrating the rich diversity of people as well as creative and intellectual traditions by being inclusive in every respect.
ABOUT SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Urban living plus easy access to astonishing natural settings provide an ideal work-life balance for modern living. Short commute times, big-city amenities, diverse neighborhoods, and an abundance of outdoor recreation options all come together during an unprecedented time of growth and opportunity.
No single neighborhood in Salt Lake City is the same, and you’ll find Salt Lake City celebrates its diversity through its vibrant food and music scenes, and cultural festivals. The UMFA strives to celebrate and serve communities experiencing rapid growth in our metropolitan area. Twenty-two percent of Salt Lake City residents report Hispanic or Latino heritage. Other racial and ethnic groups include: Asian (5%), Black or African American (3%), Pacific Islander (1.6%), and Indigenous or Native American (1.5%). Salt Lake City is also home to one of the country’s largest LGBTQ populations, an active community that offers support, resources, and sponsors film festivals and social activities, including Utah Pride Festival, an annual three-day celebration held annually.
Salt Lake City is a cultural center offering a wealth of opportunities to attend plays, operas, symphonies, and dance performances, thanks to an arts community that is well supported by residents, corporate citizens, and state and local governments. In addition to the UMFA, which is a major force in the cultural life of the city, Salt Lake is home to the Utah Symphony and Opera, Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Spy Hop Productions, Utah Film Center and many more. Additionally, Utah is home to the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival, which takes place annually in locations in and around Park City and Salt Lake City. Finally, a strong and growing business community is the foundation of Utah’s success. The region boasts leading technology firms, global manufacturers, innovative service firms, and strong financial institutions.
The UMFA’s Senior Curator is the leader of curatorial practice, scholarship, and collections planning for the Museum with a keen eye for activating the permanent collections and spearheading a dynamic exhibition program. The ideal candidate is a big-picture thinker, with a demonstrated commitment to collaborative, community-engaged curatorial practice. The incumbent will work to advance the Museum’s strategic goals and help forward the Museum’s commitment to dismantling unjust systems and practices throughout its scope of work.
The Senior Curator must have excellent, demonstrated leadership qualities and communication skills. Much of the work at the UMFA is planned cross-departmentally and exhibitions are developed through project teams and committees that encourage a multiplicity of voices and perspectives. The successful candidate will be a naturally collaborative person, someone who welcomes input from colleagues and from external constituencies, and is willing to explore new models of shared leadership and partnerships.
Other key responsibilities include:
IDEA/Antiracism Leadership and Implementation
· Demonstrate a commitment to antiracism and the advancement of diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility across all aspects of our work. The Senior Curator will play an integral part in developing the role that a community centered art museum plays in making the world a better place.
· Lead efforts to reassess the stories the UMFA tells, who those stories privilege, and what they obscure in order to provoke dialogue, activate change, and create a more relevant and inclusive visitor experience.
Exhibition Strategy and Planning
· Oversee the development and implementation of the Museum’s exhibition program, including rotating and loaned exhibitions as well as those developed in-house.
· Articulate curatorial priorities and establish an integrated and cohesive curatorial voice and vision for the Museum.
· Conduct and oversee original research and new interpretive strategies for the UMFA’s collections and exhibitions.
· Develop and implement a cohesive vision, strategy, and plan for the UMFA’s diverse collections, prioritizing the development of a museum-wide Collections Plan and working closely with the curatorial, collections, and learning & engagement departments.
· Work with the curatorial department to build and refine the collection by making recommendations for acquisition and deaccession. In order to be a more inclusive and equitable resource for the communities we serve and to better reflect the great diversity of human creativity, the UMFA must build its collection to include the voices and practices of those it has historically excluded.
· Build the collection by making recommendations for acquisition with the Executive Director’s approval. The Senior Curator oversees an ambitious art acquisition program with endowment funds totaling more than $10M.
Management and Administration
· Provide managerial oversight of all operational and administrative aspects of the Museum’s curatorial department.
· Perform administrative duties related to the functions of the position, including building the capacity of the curatorial department through strategic hiring and managing of the curatorial department budget.
· Supervise and manage staff members of the curatorial department.
Internal and External Leadership
· Internal and cross-departmental collaboration
o Encourage and model interdepartmental communication. Work collaboratively with leadership in the collections, learning & engagement, development, operations, and marketing departments to promote a highly functional, interactive, and dynamic museum team.
· External, community and campus engagement
o Initiate and maintain ongoing relationships with artists, arts and culture organizations, and community leaders and support the development of a community-engagement strategy centering on reciprocal relationships with community and nonprofit partners across Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.
o Encourage and facilitate the use of UMFA resources and collaborative programming with University of Utah faculty and students, docents, and scholars.
Bachelor’s degree in a related area or equivalency (2 years related work experience may be substituted for 1 year of education). Three to four years of progressively more responsible management experience. Background knowledge of hiring department’s area of specialization in order to analyze, plan and draw conclusions for recommendations to superiors. Demonstrated leadership skills in planning and directing employees and processes in order to effectively monitor and develop subordinates and to ensure the smooth operation of department. Master’s degree in a related area may be preferred.
Applicants must demonstrate the potential ability to perform the essential functions of the job as outlined in the position description.
The UMFA encourages candidates with different work experiences and backgrounds to apply and will consider a variety of commensurate experience and backgrounds. Preference will be given to candidates demonstrating the following professional and personal qualities, experience, skills, and characteristics:
· Commitment to embrace art’s power to promote justice and create meaningful connections in our lives. The Senior Curator will demonstrate a commitment to antiracism, to the advancement of diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility, and to developing the role that a community centered art museum plays in making the world a better place.
· Curatorial leadership. The Senior Curator will have a passion for and deep knowledge of art, art history, museums, and community engaged practices. The successful candidate will demonstrate a willingness to share authority, along with an aptitude for conceptualizing, designing, and executing creative and innovative exhibitions and projects designed to appeal to broad audiences. The Senior Curator will have the experience, vision and collaborative ability to build and refine a global collection of over 20,000 objects.
· Building and nurturing relationships and partnerships. The Senior Curator will establish rapport and cultivate relationships across all levels of the Museum, including serving as a consultative thought-leader and partner to the Executive Director and senior leadership team as a whole. Additionally, the successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to connect with and build relationships with individuals and organizations in the Museum’s surrounding communities.
· Innovative approach to interpretation and display. The UMFA’s commitment to activating the collection and redefining the scope and methodologies of its exhibition practices are at an inflection point. It is imperative that the next Senior Curator demonstrate leadership and passion for narrative storytelling approaches that connect the Museum’s current and prospective audiences to the works of art on view. Experience cultivating collaborative partnerships and/or developing emergent or experimental programs strongly desired.
· Values-centered leadership. Qualified candidates are expected to exemplify the UMFA’s core values, which include being inclusive, collaborative, authentic, respectful, creative, and empathetic while promoting an atmosphere of learning and integrity.
· Strategic leadership and management acumen. The Senior Curator will have the ability to set clear priorities, delegate, and serve as mentor to fellow staff and direct reports. The successful candidate must be an inclusive leader and manager, skilled at uniting staff around a shared vision and committed to a broader culture of kindness. The Senior Curator will have excellent interpersonal skills, be detail-oriented, and manage time efficiently.
· Education. The successful candidate will possess an advanced degree combined with demonstrated experience curating in an art museum or gallery setting. Commensurate knowledge of art history, anthropology, museum studies, arts administration, fine arts, or a related field may be considered. Knowledge and experience with the full Microsoft Office Suite, Argus/Sydney+, and Adobe Creative Suite is preferred.
Special Instructions Summary
This position will remain open until filled. Qualified candidates should submit a brief letter of introduction and resume or CV. Applications received by March 4, 2022 will be given full consideration. Please note the University of Utah offers a competitive benefit package which includes fourteen percent (14%) employer-paid retirement contributions that are 100% vested upon hiring.
The University of Utah values candidates who have experience working in settings with students from diverse backgrounds and possess a strong commitment to improving access to higher education for historically underrepresented students.
Individuals from historically underrepresented groups, such as minorities, women, qualified persons with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply. Veterans’ preference is extended to qualified applicants, upon request and consistent with University policy and Utah state law. Upon request, reasonable accommodations in the application process will be provided to individuals with disabilities.
The University of Utah is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and does not discriminate based upon race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information, or protected veteran’s status. The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the education program or activity that it operates, as required by Title IX and 34 CFR part 106. The requirement not to discriminate in education programs or activities extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator, to the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, or both.
To request a reasonable accommodation for a disability or if you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or sexual misconduct including sexual harassment, you may contact the Director/Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action:
Director/ Title IX Coordinator
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA)
135 Park Building
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Online reports may be submitted at oeo.utah.edu
For more information: https://www.utah.edu/nondiscrimination/
To inquire about this posting, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-581-2300.
The University is a participating employer with Utah Retirement Systems (“URS”). Eligible new hires with prior URS service, may elect to enroll in URS if they make the election before they become eligible for retirement (usually the first day of work). Contact Human Resources at (801) 581-7447 for information. Individuals who previously retired and are receiving monthly retirement benefits from URS are subject to URS’ post-retirement rules and restrictions. Please contact Utah Retirement Systems at (801) 366-7770 or (800) 695-4877 or University Human Resource Management at (801) 581-7447 if you have questions regarding the post-retirement rules.
This position may require the successful completion of a criminal background check and/or drug screen.