Opportunity for a dynamic, ambitious, experienced Pre-Columbian Art curator at a major AAMD art museum in the West

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) seeks an energetic, entrepreneurial individual with the experience and expertise to develop exhibitions and oversee and reinstall the DAM’s distinguished pre-Columbian collection, considered one of the best such collections in the United States.  A specialty in Mesoamerica and the Intermediate Region is preferred, but broad expertise is essential to curate a collection covering vast regions and historical eras.  The Curator should enjoy working with donors and collectors and welcome reaching broad audiences, including families with children. The Search Committee is open to considering a range of candidates from an Assistant Curator level to a Full Curator.

Christoph Heinrich, the Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM since 2010, has put in place a vision of dynamic programming for visitors and families, including destination exhibitions.  Rotating permanent-collection installations keep the Museum fresh.  The DAM vision includes a commitment to pulling back the curtain on the creative process of artists, not only by featuring frequent on-site contemporary-art installations but also by incorporating interactive educational spaces in the galleries and special exhibitions.  The DAM is committed to implementing ambitious, large-scale exhibitions and exploring new and dynamic ways of engaging audiences.

Today, with 200 full-time staff and an operating budget of $26M, the DAM is one of the 15 largest museums in the AAMD. In 2006 the Hamilton Building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind joined the 1971 North Building, designed by architect Gio Ponti.

The Curator will have the opportunity to organize occasional world-class exhibitions with significant budgets along with smaller shows and projects.  As part of the DAM Strategic “2021” Plan, the Curator will reinstall the pre-Columbian collection for the first time since 1993 in its 11,000 square feet of gallery space in the 1971 North Building, designed by architect Gio Ponti.

Denver is now the  21st largest city in the US and the region’s population soared an estimated 10% from 2010 to 2015.  Denver is known for fabulous skiing in the Rocky Mountains and for the young, creative, entrepreneurial populations it attracts from both Coasts. The new Clyfford Still Museum next door, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and performing arts organizations and professional sports teams round out the high-quality lifestyle in the Denver/Boulder region.

Key Opportunities

The DAM offers an outstanding opportunity to a dynamic, creative curator who is passionate about pre-Columbian art and who will lead the museum’s distinguished pre-Columbian art collection — considered one of the top 10 collections in American museums — into an even higher level of regional, national, and international prominence.

With the DAM team, the Curator of Pre-Columbian Art can:

  • Reinstall the pre-Columbian collection of 3,000 objects in the over 11,000 square feet of modern gallery space in the North building, creating an updated installation and interpretation, incorporating new technologies.
  • Select masterpieces for cross-departmental thematic exhibitions for 2017-20.
  • Organize ambitious, world-class “Banner” exhibitions every several years in one of 3 spacious special exhibition galleries, which are 10,000, 7,000, and 3,000 square feet.
    • The DAM is committed to implementing ambitious, large-scale exhibitions of pre-Columbian art and exploring new and dynamic ways of engaging audiences.
    • The DAM is open to innovative or dramatic installations.
  • Create changing focus exhibitions highlighting aspects of the collection.
  • Acquire works for the permanent collection through purchases and through gifts from DAM’s active patrons and collectors.
  • Collaborate on public programs such as lectures and the biennial endowed symposium.
  • Publish symposia proceedings, exhibit catalogs and collection guides.
  • Bring exposure to the pre-Columbian collection to an audience of over a half-million visitors per year, including schoolchildren and underserved audiences who have few such opportunities within 500 miles
    • Denver hosts a vital Latino community and cultural organizations, with which the department can continue to engage.
  • Enjoy Denver and the lifestyle of the Rocky Mountain West.

Required Job Qualifications

  • Five or more years’ experience as a museum curator, or equivalent professional experience
  • Substantive record of exhibitions and publications
  • Experience with a substantial collection, including collection installations and acquisitions
  • Thorough knowledge of pre-Columbian art, both historical knowledge and actively staying abreast of new developments in this specialized field
  • MA degree in related art field (PhD preferred)
  • Thorough knowledge of pre-Columbian art, with a focus on Mesoamerica and the Intermediate Region preferred and eagerness to learn areas of the collection outside one’s specialty field
  • Proficient in Spanish, fluency preferred
  • Demonstrated research skills
  • Team player, collaborative
  • Ambitious for the institution and to serve broad audiences, not just the cognoscenti
  • Ability to work with donors and collectors who actively support the department
  • Fundraising and public-speaking abilities
  • Ability to lead and manage, or collaborate with, curatorial assistants and/or interns
  • International network of professional colleagues, collectors, and dealers
  • Willing to travel

Detailed Job Duties/Responsibilities

  • Work collaboratively with educators, designers and possibly artists in the development, creation, interpretation, and installation of permanent galleries and special exhibitions organized or booked by the museum.
  • Collaborate with curatorial colleagues, collectors, patrons, and cultural organizations to generate important exhibitions, publications, and public programs.
  • Take responsibility for the pre-Columbian art collections, including study, rotation and display, care and record-keeping, provenance research, digitizing and publication, in addition to the major re-installation.
  • Build and refine the collection.
  • Actively cultivate funding for acquisitions, exhibitions, research grants, and fellowships through association with professional organizations, foundations, and patrons on local, national, and international levels. Work actively with the department’s support group, the Alianza de las Artes Americanas.
  • Prepare and give lectures, tours, and workshops to the public, professional colleagues, and other groups.
  • Organize the biennial symposia and edit subsequent publications for the Mayer Center for Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art at the Denver Art Museum.
  • Work collaboratively with the curator of Spanish Colonial Art in the development, creation, interpretation, and installation of permanent galleries and special exhibitions to be organized collectively as the New World Department.
  • Participate in institutional planning.
  • Maintain professional affiliations in scholarly organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.
  • Given that the DAM is an institutional member, abide by, follow, and comply with the guidelines of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), including the AAMD Report on the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art and the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property; and conduct appropriate provenance research on pertinent objects in the department’s collections.

International Candidates will be considered.  Fluency in English is essential.

Nominations welcome. 

Inquiries and nominations are welcome at


Apply in confidence:

Email cover letter, résumé or CV (Word document preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by June 17, 2016 (end of day) to retained search firm: Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference,  References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.  Screening of applications will continue until the completion of the search process.  Position open until filled.

DAM policy is to prohibit discrimination against any person or organization based on age, race, sex, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender identity, gender expression, ancestry, marital status, gender, veteran status, political service, affiliation, or disability.

About the DAM’s Encyclopedic Collections 

Since its founding in 1893, the DAM has amassed more than 78,000 works of art, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of world art between Chicago and the West Coast.  Internationally known for its holdings of American Indian art, the Museum has also assembled an extensive group of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art objects now considered one of the finest collections anywhere.  Other areas of concentration are European and American painting and sculpture, architecture, design and graphics, modern and contemporary, Asian, African, Oceanic, western American and textile art.

About the Pre-Columbian Art Collection

The Denver Art Museum is indeed fortunate in being able to count among its greatest resources a pre-Columbian collection rich in art from all over Latin America.  Pre-Columbian material at the Denver Art Museum initially constituted one component of the American Indian collection.  The first pre-Columbian pieces to enter the collection between 1926 and 1948 were all ceramics from Chihuahua, in northern Mexico.  Several ancient Peruvian textile fragments and ceramics were donated to the museum in the early 1950s.  In 1952, the museum made its first purchase of pre-Columbian art and in 1968, the New World Department was established, bringing Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial objects from Latin America together. Today the combined collection of the New World Department covers a time span from about 1200 BC to the present. It is the best collection of its type in the United States and, in many areas it is the most comprehensive collection outside of country of origin.

Many hundreds of objects from South, Central and Mesoamerica entered the collection in the 1970s and 1980s. The most important patrons by far were Frederick and Jan Mayer, who helped fund acquisitions from many different cultures for the department, while also building a comprehensive personal collection of Costa Rican antiquities that came to number about 2,000 objects.  In the 1990s the Mayers donated the bulk of their Costa Rican collection to the DAM, roughly doubling the size of the museum’s pre-Columbian collection.

In 1993, the New World Department collections were reorganized and reinstalled in their present galleries (22,000 square feet), which at the time made Denver the only major museum in the country to have permanent galleries dedicated to both Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art.  More than five thousand objects from these collections are now displayed in the Jan and Frederick Mayer Galleries of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art.  Included are paintings, sculpture, furniture, silver and decorative arts from the Spanish Colonial period, as well as pre-Columbian masterworks in ceramic, stone, gold, and jade.  These two collections are remarkable for both aesthetic quality and cultural significance.  Internationally, the Denver Art Museum is unparalleled in its comprehensive representation of the major stylistic movements from all the geographic areas and cultures of Latin America.

One component of the installation is an innovative study-storage gallery of pre-Columbian art made possible by the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund.  The large glass-shelved display cases allow DAM to place nearly all of its pre-Columbian collection on permanent display, permitting visitors to view the full spectrum of pre-Columbian forms and media, and compare multiple examples of items such as figurines, cache vessels, stone sculptures, and jade ornaments.

The growth of the New World collections and programs received a major boost with the enlightened endowment gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer in 2003.  This gift made it possible to establish separate curatorial positions in Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art.  As a result, the Denver Art Museum has the only curator dedicated exclusively to Spanish Colonial art in the United States.  The Mayers also founded the Frederick and Jan Mayer Center for Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art at the Denver Art Museum, committed to increasing awareness and promoting scholarship in these fields by sponsoring scholarly activities including annual symposia, fellowships, study trips, and publications (

The pre-Columbian art collection has occupied the galleries on the fourth floor of the North Building since it opened in 1971.  The Galleries encompass 11,000 square feet of space and display changing selections from the DAM’s collection and loans.  Galleries are devoted to the arts of Mesoamerica, the Intermediate Region and Andean South America.

For more information on the pre-Columbian collection see
For digitized collections, visit:[0]=field_co_collection_term%253A951&f[1]=field_co_collection_term%3A1254

Denver offers major-city sophistication in a location inspiring for natural beauty.  A hub for those seeking the Rocky Mountain ski slopes, Denver is also home to major museums, four major sports teams, and a wide variety of neighborhoods.

The Denver Metropolitan Statistical Area is over 2.8 million people, the 21st largest in the US.  The region had the second fastest growth rate of the top 21 Areas in the US, second only to Houston.  The Mile High City is now larger than Washington, Boston, or Atlanta.  Despite its size, Denver is a livable, friendly city where many DAM staff walk or bike to work. Its temperate climate boasts 300 days of sunshine per year.

Arts, culture and creativity are fully integrated into daily life, work and play in Denver. The city is known for its public art, downtown theatre district, indie music scene, art districts, creative sector businesses and microbreweries and distilleries, to name a few features that make Denver special. The city hosts a vital contemporary art scene enlivened by a rich variety of cultural organizations, galleries, and collectors.  The city has 5 distinct arts districts for galleries and artists’ studios, featuring over 50 art galleries, many studio buildings, and boutiques with local crafts and artisanal products, from jewelry to wine.  See: for more information about the arts districts.

In addition to the Museum of Contemporary Art and Clyfford Still Museum, Denver’s many other museums include the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado), Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art (of 1875 – 1990), Children’s Museum of Denver, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, Denver Zoo, and Denver Botanic Gardens.  Enjoy symphony, ballet, opera and Broadway shows at cultural organizations including The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Denver Center Theatre Company. Architectural monuments include the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Denver Public Library, and Colorado State Capitol.  Enjoy Colorado Rockies baseball at Coors Field or take in a football game at Mile High Sports Authority Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos.  Denver is also home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche professional hockey team.

Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or biking at nearby resorts such as Loveland (only 50 minutes away), Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper Mountain, or travel to Aspen or Vail.  Draw inspiration from the area’s unrivaled natural beauty at Mt. Evans, Denver Mountain Parks or Rocky Mountain National Park near Boulder.

Visit: and for information.

About Colorado

Colorado’s relaxed, high-quality lifestyle is attracting cosmopolitan, creative people who seek work/life balance, farm-to-table food, a green mentality, and incomparable outdoor beauty.  Visit: to learn more about all the state has to offer.

Job Information
  • Denver, Colorado, 80204, United States
  • 28357481
  • May 4, 2016
  • Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Pre-Columbian Art
  • Denver Art Museum
  • Curator
  • No
  • Full-Time
  • Indefinite
  • Master’s Degree
  • 5-7 Years