Vice President, Chief Curator – Position Description
About the International African American Museum
The International African American Museum (IAAM), scheduled to open in 2020, is a museum, memorial, and site of conscience that will present unvarnished history and culture, commemorate and celebrate the foundational role that Africans and their descendants played in the making of America, and highlight their diasporic connections around the world.
Nearly half of all enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade arrived in Charleston, and the vast majority disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, the future home of the IAAM and one of the most significant and sacred sites of the African American experience in the Western hemisphere. The IAAM will include immersive, interactive exhibits engaging to all ages and feature the Center for Family History, a leading genealogy archive that will help visitors identify their individual threads in the complex tapestry of history.
The Chief Curator provides leadership and direction for the intellectual and interpretive strategies of IAAM’s curatorial program including the research, design, and implementation of innovative exhibition strategies; care, management, and development of artifact, archival, and digital collections; development and production of dynamic educational and public programs, and facilitating access genealogical resources. The successful candidate is a gifted leader, compelling communicator – both in writing and spoken word – an outstanding researcher, an able administrator, and a strong advocate for the Museum. He/she will infuse energy into innovative and creative initiatives, and leverage collections, resources, and partnerships. It is essential that they be equally comfortable organizing major exhibitions, and addressing timely and provocative topics such as racial identity or social justice.
As a member of the senior administrative staff, the Chief Curator reports to the Museum's CEO and contributes to institution-wide vision, planning and policy, as well as the cultivation and stewardship of donors and fundraising. He/she serves as the standard bearer for the Museum's scholarship and intellectual integrity, and sets a solid example in their own practice.
In addition to being an innovative thinker and an operative in the museum field, the ideal candidate will bring a high degree of curiosity to the position, and an eagerness to initiate collaborations and cultivate partnerships with other museums, cultural institutions, and leading universities, as well as foster a network of historians, artists and cultural experts. With the Museum's mission foremost in mind – to illuminate the influential histories of Africans and their descendants in South Carolina, highlighting their diasporic connections throughout the nation and the world – the candidate will further the public's engagement and awareness of the myriad contributions of African Americans to history, culture, and society.
Responsibilities and Duties
Develops, directs, and monitors short and long-range program plans involving all aspects of Curatorial Affairs operations, including scholarly research and publications, collections management, exhibitions, education, and outreach programs. Makes major policy decisions concerning Curatorial Affairs programs, including matters of budget, staffing, and organization.
In partnership with the Museum's CEO, the Chief Curator guides and completes the conceptual development of the Museum's opening exhibitions including messaging, final object and graphic selection, media and film development, script writing/editing, and scholarly reviews.
Creates and implements a long-term vision for the Museum’s exhibition program that utilizes a collaborative and integrated approach that significantly enhances the quality of the visitor experience, attracts positive press, and earns respect from the general public and community of historians.
Conducts and/or supervises exhibition development including research, artifact and image selection, digital/media production, script writing, audience assessment, community outreach, and curricula development.
Develops multidisciplinary, long-term collections strategy providing stewardship and accountability for IAAM’s collections including artifacts, works of art, archival, and digital.
Directs and coordinates all aspects of collections management activities including acquisitions, loans (incoming/outgoing), storage, security, documentation, conservation, inventory, installation/deinstallation, and digitization.
Develops, implements, and maintains collections management systems and databases including applicable training, policy, protocols, and procedures.
Conducts, directs, and encourages original, independent scholarly research on African American history and culture. Defines topics of genuine significance and ensures alignment with Museum’s strategic goals and priorities. Determines feasibility of the topic for exhibition, publication, and/or public programming for both general and specialized audiences. Research results are considered a major contribution to scholarship in the field.
Initiates, reviews, and/or evaluates proposals for new research projects or major shifts in existing research or programmatic initiatives. Approves or disapproves proposals and provides leadership and guidance on improvement and/or implementation.
Public Outreach and Digital Engagement:
A recognized voice in African American history, participates in national and international conferences, meetings, and symposia; and serves on national and international museum committees.
Works collaboratively with curators, educators, and IT specialists to develop a multifaceted digital strategy that provides meaningful opportunities for visitor engagement. Embraces technology to create digital offerings (exhibitions, tours, games, curricula) that reach new and diverse audiences, and extend the presence of the IAAM beyond the physical visitor experience. Actively contributes to the Museum's expanding web and social media initiatives.
Explores and develops joint programs in cooperation with universities, cultural institution’s (museums, historical sites), and community groups. Provides expert advice and consultation to professional and other organizations.
Requirements and Skills
A Master’s degree in African American history or related field is required, Ph.D. preferred.
A recognized expert in the field with a minimum of three years senior management experience; minimum of five years applied museum curatorial experience.
Evidence of and commitment to original scholarship with a proven record of initiating, curating, and delivering well received exhibitions, publications, and public programs.
Senior-level management and leadership responsibly with a track record of success in managing people, operations, policy, and budgets.
Highly developed research, writing, and oral communication skills; the presence and credibility to serve as an effective spokesperson for with visitors, outside communities, supporters and donors, the public, and the media.
Enthusiasm and talent for fundraising with successful results in identifying, cultivating and soliciting major donors, foundations, and corporate sponsors.
A positive, proactive, and collegial work ethic is essential.
Recruitment and Application Process
Start Date: January 2018
Compensation: Competitive salary and benefits
Term: Full-time, permanent position (40 hours/week)
Travel: Required – domestic and international
To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, a list of three professional references, a resume/CV, and salary requirements to Marion Gill, Director of Museum Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls please.
Application Closing Date: Friday, November 17, 2017
The International African American Museum is an equal opportunity employer. We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
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