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Curator [The W.H. Stark House]

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on August 2, 1973 in job announcements |

Introduction:  The W.H. Stark House is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1961 by Nelda and Lutcher Stark to provide support and create opportunities for historical, artistic, environmental and cultural enrichment. The Stark Foundation operates the Stark Cultural Venues which include:  The W.H. Stark House, Stark Museum of Art, Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts, and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. The Stark Cultural Venues provide the Orange, Texas community and Southeast Texas region with outstanding resources for the study and enjoyment of the arts, history, culture, science and nature.    The Curator, The W.H. Stark House reports to the Director, Stark Art and History Venues.

Background:  The monumental, 14,000 square foot W.H Stark House, designed in the late Victorian Queen Anne style, was built in 1894 for William Henry Stark, a successful entrepreneur, and his wife, Miriam Melissa Lutcher Stark. The house was occupied by the Starks and their family until 1936, when both W.H. and Miriam died. The house stood empty until 1981 when it was opened to the public after a ten-year long restoration. The Starks’ only surviving child, Lutcher, and his wife Nelda, established the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, which provided the funding that brought back to life an important piece of Southeast Texas’s cultural history.

The mansion’s 15 rooms of original turn-of-the-century family furnishings are enhanced by paintings, small sculptures and exquisite decorative art objects that belonged to Mrs. Stark, an avid collector. The collection, including Lutcher Stark’s restored 1909 Hupmobile Roadster, is also displayed in the adjoining Carriage House. Both structures are used to depict the home life of the W.H. Stark family and more broadly, the social history of the period in Southeast Texas. The Stark House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.

Job Summary: Develop and facilitate interpretive program and initiatives to engage audiences, place The W.H. Stark House in its historical context, and encourage awareness and appreciation for the history and resources of the site.  In concert with the assistant registrar, manage the physical and intellectual control of the site’s material culture collections.  Conduct, collect and utilize research to facilitate accurate and broad understanding of all aspects of the site’s history in an interpretive plan, including but not limited to room/space interpretation, exhibitions and educational and public programs. Oversee house staff including administrative assistant and paid guides.

 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Site Interpretive Program

    • Through internal and external research, and regular reviews, ensure the ongoing accuracy, relevance, and appropriateness of the interpretive programming.

    • Provide or direct all interpretive training for guides

    • In the absence of a full-time, history focused educator provide day-to-day supervision of guides and work with History Venue Administrative Assistant to schedule guides.

    • Develop and maintain interpretive materials including:

      • Training materials and sessions

      • Collection, art and furnishings updates

      • Special enrichment workshops

    • Monitor interpretive guides for accuracy, methodology, and hospitality

    • Participate in orientation and basic education for all new staff

    • Conduct tours as needed

    • Contribute articles and content for newsletters, mailings, website and social media as needed

    • Ensure the accuracy of historical content in print materials and on-line

  • House Experience Program

    • Develop and maintains historic site experiences that engage the visitor

    • Develop and maintain site-wide exhibitions, displays, room/space interpretation, and ancillary programs to enrich the visitor experience

    • Regularly evaluate programs and exhibits to identify and meet targeted outcomes.

  • School Learning Program

    • In absence of a full-time, history-focused educator, creates, manages and evaluates educational opportunities.

      • Curriculum-based, grade appropriate themed tours for K-12 students

      • Develop on-site and on-line educational opportunities linked to the needs of secondary and college educators

    • Direct development and implementation of outreach programs

    • Work with the Stark Cultural Venues staff to create an integrated mix of student and educator offerings that support varied levels of expertise and learning styles.

  • Public Program

    • Develop, manage, facilitate and evaluate new and innovative programs with an emphasis on multi-generational and senior audiences

    • Work with the Stark Cultural Venues staff to create an integrated mix of public offerings that support varied levels of expertise and learning styles.

  • Collections Management

    • In concert with assistant registrar (and other collections staff as needed), update and maintain  the collection’s TMS (The Museum System) database including,  documenting current conditions and conservation treatments and proposing priorities for future conservation efforts

    • Develop and participate in programs, workshops, and presentations for collections care, maintenance, conservation, and preservation.

    • Conduct research as needed to support capital projects, programs and events.

    • Develop and adhere to  collections policies and best practices through continuing education in policy and practice

    • With a strong background in Material Culture and Decorative Arts and an understanding of collections management best practices, evaluate the current collection, evaluate and oversee accessioning of new collections objects, and help to create collections management policy documents.

    • Share the collections  safely and appropriately by:

      • Selecting and preparing collections for rotating exhibitions

      • Using collections/archives as inspiration for programs/events

      • Facilitating transcription and digitization of selected materials

      • Recommend approval of outside collections loans

  • General

    • Maintain relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including house guides, advisory committees, volunteers, educators and  community partners at the local, state, regional and national level

    • In collaboration with the Director, Stark Art and History Venues prepare, administer and track the annual operating and special projects budgets; providing ongoing financial management and operational stewardship

    • In collaboration with the Director, Stark Art and History Venues develop short and long term planning documents and oversee implementation of approved plans.

    • Ensure that all work undertaken by the Stark House staff meets the highest ethical and professional standards.

    • Develop and support the capabilities of WHSH staff members, enhancing exceptional ability and maintaining accountability.

    • Provide a high level of energy and professionalism and infuse the staff with enthusiasm and drive to advance the mission of the Stark House and the Stark Cultural Venues.

    • Maintain and encourage open communication with Foundation personnel and Stark Cultural Venues staff and foster a productive, efficient, and team-oriented working environment

    • Other duties as assigned

 

Qualifications

 

The successful candidate must have strong leadership experience at a historical organization with five to eight years of progressive leadership responsibility and a level of education appropriate to the position, preferably an advanced degree in Public History, American history, American studies, Museum Studies or a related discipline.

 

  • Proven success with innovative approaches to significantly enhancing a historic site’s impact and contribution to the community

  • Proven understanding of interpretive  and educational theory

  • Knowledge of collections care best practices, conservation and preservation techniques and procedures; knowledge of collections management systems, preferably TMS (The Museum System)

  • Knowledge of research principles, protocol, techniques and standards within historical organizations and museums

  • Knowledge of and experience with best practices in historical interpretation and education

  • A proven track record of successfully administering budgets, supervising staff and developing dynamic programs for students, educators, multi-generational and senior groups.

  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively and effectively and to communicate well with a wide range of people, including paid and unpaid staff

  • Passion for history and preservation and its educational role in today’s world

  • Ability to create, compose and edit written materials; ability to adapt text or narrative to audience

  • Skill in organizing resources and establishing priorities

  • Strong planning and management background

  • Demonstrated communication and interpersonal skills across all levels of an organization and with the public; ability to serve as spokesperson locally, regionally, and nationally.

  • Highly motivated self starter with a hands-on work ethic, good judgment, and mature thinking

  • Have a positive, can-do attitude and a sense of humor

Application Process:   Email letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to assistant@starkfoundation.org.

Compensation:  $45,000 – $58,000 depending on experience.  Excellent benefit packing which includes medical, dental, life, and disability insurance; defined benefit pension and 403b retirement plans; paid sick leave, vacation and holidays.

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