The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States and is one of the top six art museums in the country. Founded in 1883, the DIA’s collection consists of over 65,000 works and spans the globe from ancient to contemporary art. This encyclopedic collection includes ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian material, as well as a wide range of Islamic, African, and Asian art of all media. The Museum’s American and European Art collections are equally impressive and include acclaimed masterpieces of painting, sculpture, furniture and decorative arts from the 18th century, 19th century, and 20th century. Among the DIA’s most celebrated works are Frederic Church’s Cotopaxi, 1862; Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887; the Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals, 1932; and Tony Smith’s large-scale outdoor sculpture Gracehoper, commissioned for the museum and completed in 1971.

The James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art After 1950 oversees the DIA’s permanent collection of over 3,500 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, video and installation-based works with strength in post-WWII American and European art, including works by Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Eva Hesse, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol. International artists of note from the years post-1970 are represented, as well, and include Marina Abramovic, William Kentridge, Anselm Kiefer, Nam June Paik, Martin Puryear, Yinka Shonibare, Kiki Smith and Kehinde Wiley. In addition, the DIA has maintained an interest in collecting works by artists native to and active in the metro-Detroit area and of international and regional acclaim, including Tyree Guyton and Mike Kelley, as well as artists from Detroit’s 1970s Cass Corridor era and more recent representatives of Detroit’s exciting and emerging new art scene.

The DIA welcomes over 600,000 visitors annually to its 100 galleries displaying the Museum’s permanent collections and special exhibitions. In addition, the DIA contains a 1,150-seat theatre, a 380-seat hall for recitals and lectures, an art reference library, and a conservation services laboratory. The Museum’s campus is located in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center Historic District, about two miles north of the downtown area, across from the Detroit Public Library and near Wayne State University.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts seeks a full-time Curator and Department Head of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art After 1950. The Detroit Institute of Arts Contemporary Art collection is strong in post-World War II American art and includes more recent mixed media and new media works. The ideal candidate must be a high performer able to engage a broad audience through exhibitions of art from 1950 to the present and related public programs. Furthermore, the Head of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art must be a dynamic and an actively social individual who closely engages with the Detroit and tri-county (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) communities and the local and international contemporary art establishment.

In addition, candidates must have a proven record and experience in the following areas: developing and managing a major art collection; planning strategic acquisitions with special emphasis on emerging artists; installing and managing permanent collection galleries; developing special exhibitions and related programs; researching toward original scholarship; cultivating patrons and fundraising; managing staff and budgets, and performing related departmental duties. Successful candidates must also be able to work collaboratively in a dynamic environment.



Purpose of Position:
The Curator of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art 1950 to present reports to the Co-Chief Curators. S/he oversees the DIA Contemporary Art (1950 to present) collection, acquisitions and exhibitions, manages the Department’s staff and collaborates with internal and external colleagues. S/he will be responsible for hiring a junior level Curator of Contemporary Art. In addition, the Curator of Contemporary Art is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with individuals in the international, national and Detroit-area contemporary art communities.

Essential Functions:

  • Oversee and manage the James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art After 1950;
  • Create and implement a long-term vision for the museum that utilizes contemporary art and related programs to engage diverse audiences;
  • Conduct research on the museum’s collection and produce scholarly publications;
  • Develop collection strategies; research and propose acquisition proposals;
  • Propose and develop exhibitions, as well as related publications;
  • Manage the permanent collection and galleries; work with the Collections Management staff to install artworks; and consult with the Conservation Department to regularly assess the conservation needs of the collection;
  • Maintain collection records in accordance with DIA data and archival standards;
  • Work collaboratively with the Learning and Interpretation staff to develop and create strategies and materials for exhibitions and permanent gallery projects, as well as conduct training for gallery teachers and docents;
  • Foster and maintain good working relationships with existing and potential patrons, trustees, and museum colleagues, as well as with the academic community, art dealers, and collectors;
  • Engage donors, sponsors, and foundations in support of museum fundraising directives;
  • Act as staff liaison to the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art (FMCA) auxiliary support group;
  • Conduct training, and develop presentations, lectures, and tours for enrichments to support museum activities and community outreach.


  • M.A. in Art History or M.F.A.
  • Extensive knowledge of twentieth and twenty-first century art, from 1950 to the present
  • Five to ten years of curatorial experience, with at least five years in museum administration
  • Evidence of and commitment to original scholarship, with an outstanding record of research, publications, exhibitions, and acquisitions
  • Experience with patron cultivation and management
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Excellent working relationships with collectors, artists, gallerists, and scholars
  • Excellent working relationship with diverse communities
  • Exceptional writing skills and public-speaking ability
  • Proficiency in foreign languages an asset


START DATE: Summer 2016


Applicants should submit a resume, a one-page narrative describing interest and experience, and the names of three references. Applications will be reviewed by Management Consultants for the Arts, an executive search firm working with the Museum’s President. Suggestions of candidates are welcome.

Send resume and accompanying materials to:

Linda Sweet or Bill Appleton

Subject: DIA


The Detroit Institute of Arts is an Equal Opportunity Employer.