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Curator of American Art [Amherst College]

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 7, 1974 in job announcements |

Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum seeks a motivated, creative scholar to serve as curator of the museum’s flagship collection of American art. The Curator of American Art will report to the Director, and will join an energetic professional staff of fourteen, including two other full-time curators (Senior Curator of Russian Art and Post-Doc Fellow in Japanese Prints), and three colleagues who routinely participate in curatorial activities (Head of Education, an expert in antiquities, Study Room Supervisor, an expert in prints, and Director, who serves as curator of European art).

The Curator will oversee the Mead’s program for American art. Responsibilities include conducting research on the permanent collection, potential acquisitions, and loans; contributing to the development and presentation of a regular program of temporary exhibitions, always involving some aspect of the permanent collection, and occasionally developed in collaboration with Amherst College faculty; writing exhibition catalogues and other texts; helping to build, refine, and strengthen the collection by researching and proposing new acquisitions; training and supervising one or two undergraduate or graduate student interns; assisting students, faculty, and researchers with research related to the permanent collection; representing the museum at local, regional, and national conferences and professional meetings; presenting gallery talks and public lectures; and taking an active role in fundraising activities involving American art by helping to cultivate collectors in the museum’s circle and by writing occasional grant proposals. In addition to these recurring responsibilities, the Curator of American Art will be expected to coordinate and serve as the lead author of a new catalogue of the museum’s collection of nineteenth-century American paintings, for which contributions from some external authors have already been secured.

REQUIREMENTS

M.A. in art history or a closely related field required, Ph.D. preferred, with three or more years of progressively responsible experience in acquiring, researching, exhibiting and publishing works of American art. The successful candidate will be insatiably intellectually curious; capable of generating fresh concepts for exhibitions and other projects; able to convey nuanced ideas to a diverse, non-specialist audience; organized, diplomatic, and attentive to detail; an articulate writer and rigorous researcher; adherent to deadlines and willing to follow instructions; able to manage multiple projects and to work collegially as part of a team; discreet with confidential information; willing to make occasional business trips, and to attend evening and weekend museum events as needed; and open to working with college faculty and students from various academic disciplines on occasional collaborative projects.

To apply, interested candidates should submit the following materials:

  • A cover letter expressing interest in the position and outlining relevant experience
  • A complete curriculum vitae of education, employment, honors, awards, and publications
  • Three writing samples; ideally, one of each of the following forms: an exhibition wall label, a catalogue entry, and a published essay, article, book chapter, or submitted academic paper
  • The names, professional titles, and contact information (mail, e-mail, and telephone numbers) of three professional references, who will not be contacted until the search committee has informed the candidate of doing so

A review of applications will begin on February 28, 2014, and continue until the position is filled.

To apply online, please visit our web site at https://jobs.amherst.edu

EMPLOYER INFORMATION

Founded in 1821, Amherst College is among the most diverse and selective liberal arts colleges in America. Renowned for its talented students, committed faculty, scenic 1,000-acre campus and rigorous academic life, Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 36 fields of study to 1,800 young men and women from an array of backgrounds and more than 40 nations.

The Mead Art Museum holds the art collection of Amherst College. Established with funds bequeathed by William Rutherford Mead (Class of 1867), a partner in the storied architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the Mead occupies its original building, opened in 1949 and renovated in 1999-2001 and 2008-11. The 19,000 objects in the Mead’s collection represent a wide range of historical periods, national schools, and artistic media, and include American and European paintings, Mexican ceramics, Tibetan scroll paintings, an English paneled room, ancient Assyrian carvings, Russian avant-garde art, West African sculpture, Korean ceramics, and Japanese prints.

The Mead’s collection of nearly 6,000 works of American art ranks as one of the finest and largest in an academic institution. The collection is particularly strong in historical portraiture, including portrait miniatures, as well as late 19th-century landscape painting, and features outstanding works of American Impressionism, Tonalism, and Modernism. Celebrated works include John Singleton Copley’s Benjamin Blackstone, Jr. and Eleanor Phipps Blackstone, Charles Willson Peale’s James Peale Painting a Miniature, Thomas Cole’s The Past and The Present, Asher B. Durand’s Landscape, Composition, Afternoon, Rembrandt Peale’s Self-Portrait,John Frederick Kensett’s The Fawn’s Leap, Eastman Johnson, Confidence and Admiration, Martin Johnson Heade’s Red-tailed Comet (Hummingbird) in the Andes, George Inness’s Virginia Sunset, Willard Metcalf’s Gloucester Harbor, Thomas Eakins’s Head of a Cowboy, Winslow Homer’s The Fisher Girl, Robert Henri’s Salome Dancer, George Bellows, Anne in Black Velvet, Charles Hassam’s Flags on the Friar’s Club, Rockwell Kent’s Clover Fields, Ralston Crawford’s Nacelles Under Construction, Josef Albers’sHomage to the Square, Frank Stella’s Of Whales in Paint, in Teeth, &c., and Elizabeth Murray’s Sunshine.

The collection also includes fine holdings of American furniture and silver; a representative collection of American drawings and prints, especially strong in works from the Painter-Etcher Movement; and a very strong collection of photography, with deep holdings of work by canonical American modernist photographers. Compelling sub-groupings of Mexican folk art, Haitian art, and a few Native American objects (most of which are held by a different college museum) round out the American collection. Objects from the museum’s respected collection of American art are frequently requested for loan, and former Mead Curators of American Art have gone on to positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, Portland Museum of Art (Maine), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Situated in the vibrant Five College academic community (including Hampshire, Smith, and Mount Holyoke Colleges and UMass Amherst), the Mead is a laboratory for interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching involving original works of art. The Mead’s exhibitions reach a wide and growing audience, drawn from a region that encompasses Boston, Hartford, and the Berkshires. The museum’s commitment to free admission and exceptionally accessible open hours (from 9:00 am to midnight on many days) ensures a diverse range of visitors.

In addition to regularly-changing displays from the permanent collection, the museum presents seven special exhibitions each year, on subjects ranging from American art of the Civil War to Renaissance altarpieces. The past six years have marked a period of dramatic growth for the museum. Virtually all of the Mead’s collection has been digitized and made available online; new academic initiatives have inspired college faculty from nearly every academic discipline to teach with the collections; and overall museum attendance has tripled. In 2008, a Google Web search for the Mead Art Museum garnered 30,300 hits; today that figure has risen (disproportionate to general web traffic) to 1,580,000 results.

An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in the consortium of the Five Colleges, Inc., as well as museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. For more information, including a searchable catalogue of the collection and a complete schedule of exhibitions and events, please visit www.amherst.edu/mead.

Amherst College is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women, persons of color, and persons with disabilities to apply. The College is committed to enriching its educational experience and its culture through the diversity of its faculty, administration, and staff.

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