The Peabody Essex
Museum is pleased to announce the search for the George Putnam Curator of
American Art. The successful candidate will be a dynamically engaged American
Art specialist who is focused on exhibitions and programming and is excited by
the opportunity to create new ways of interpreting the complexities and
presenting the nuances of American art and culture. Collaborating closely with
the PEM curatorial team and broadly across the Museum, they will create
innovative experiences that promote audience engagement, as well as scholarship,
publications and acquisitions that support the Museum’s mission.
PEM’s AmericanArt collection
has expansive holdings of sculpture and paintings as well as fashion, textiles
and design that span four centuries of creative expression in the United
States. Supported by historic works that celebrate the rich and diverse
artistic and cultural heritage of Essex County, Massachusetts, the collection has
continued to grow to embrace a broader representation of the art and creative
expression of this country. Together, these objects tell compelling stories of
American life and the ongoing cultural exchanges between the people of the
region, the country, and the wider world.
The Curator of
American Art will bring bold, imaginative thinking to PEM’s cross-departmental
programs and exhibitions that are drawn from or related to collections. Some
recent examples include: In American Waters: The Sea in American
Painting, co-organized with Crystal Bridges Museum of American
Art, 2021; Jacob Lawrence: The
American Struggle Series, 2020, Georgia O'Keeffe:
Art, Image & Style, 2018 the first exhibition to explore the
art, image and personal style of one of America’s most iconic artists, and American
Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, 2015. They will be encouraged
to partner within the American art network, encompassing a variety of
perspectives and diverse narratives. The George Putnam Curator of American Art needs
to be an experienced, energetic, and creative storyteller with an ambition to
redefine the field, be open to a new way of working across media and time and have
a genuine desire for authentic community engagement. They will enjoy
cultivation of donors and bring with them a large professional network which
can help reinvigorate PEM’s American Art Visiting Committee.
The Curator will have the opportunity to build the collection through a
combination of the Museum’s acquisition funds, support from the American Art
Visiting Committee, and fundraising. The successful candidate will partner with
the Development staff in stewarding the Visiting Committee, donors, collectors
and supporters of acquisitions, and will be eager to help raise funds for
exhibitions, special projects, publications, and broader Museum initiatives.
The Museum provides travel funds to support research and networking, as well as
funds for professional memberships and development.
PEM’s culture is collaborative, and curators regularly work across
collections and departments, celebrating intersections, discovery, and
immersive, out-of-the-box visitor experiences. The Curator will work closely
with the entire PEM curatorial team, particularly the Curators of American Decorative
Art, Native American Art and the Curator of the Present Tense, as well as
across all museum departments, but specifically with Exhibition Planning and
Design, Learning and Civic Engagement, Collection Services, and Marketing and
Communications, to ensure that the program achieves the highest professional
standards of creativity, innovation, quality, relevance, and visitor
This position reports to the Director of Curatorial Affairs.
Organize exhibitions and
collection installations and oversee non-PEM traveling exhibitions that
Reflect and advance trends in the
Deliver original, dynamic, and
Create broadly appealing
Explore connections between the
historical and the contemporary
Enhance PEM’s reputation,
patronage, and relationships with other museums and cultural and community
Attract positive critical
Build and sustain partnerships
with peers and other museums to:
Secure or co-organize traveling
exhibitions that match the above profile
Ensure that PEM has the range and
quality of choice to create a balanced, highly appealing and impactful as well
as cost-effective exhibition program
Place PEM exhibitions in strategic
Collaborate with relevant
departments to develop public and patron programs that appeal broadly to
audiences regionally, nationally, internationally as well as online.
secure direct support for museum-wide initiatives and specific projects on an
annual basis from individuals, patron groups such as visiting committees,
foundations, corporations, and government agencies.
Collaborate with other curators,
executive leadership, development staff, and trustees to accomplish this goal.
The Collection & Acquisitions:
holds as one of its core values the commitment to stewarding its collection for
present and future generations of people in Massachusetts, the United States,
and the world. PEM is also committed to the ideals of diversity, equity,
inclusion and access. The Museum seeks to:
Ensure the ability of the collection to
support PEM strategic goals far into the future.
Promote the collection as an intellectual,
learning, and research resource for the benefit of the public.
Welcome audiences of all
backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientation and
gender identifications to the museum.
Ensure appropriate access to the
collection and related information for PEM staff, the museum community,
scholars, collectors, and the public, including the differently abled and those
with sensory sensitivities.
Provide adequate and expanding
documentation of the collection.
Strategically add works to the
collection to expand its scope and build on existing strengths; and
Periodically assess collecting
the Curator will:
collecting goals and an action plan that address afive-year horizon; identify
and justify specific key areas and examples;
estimate overall value or costs associated with goals; identify ways to secure new sources of support for
acquisitions,and enhance a Visiting
Committee’s membership, activities, support, and understanding of the museum’s
Secure works of superlative
quality, based on approved collecting goals and action plan, to strengthen the
museum’s ability to display and interpret the collection, attract visitors and
patrons, and make strategic loans to other museums’ exhibitions.
Leadership and Collaboration:
Create new approaches and build
awareness and support for this specific area of expertise.
Identify and implement strategies
for interdisciplinary and intra-collection experiences and connections between
the historical and contemporary.
Write and lecture for PEM and for
strategic high-profile and peer-review outlets in ways that recognize both the
museum and the curator as leaders.
Lead or serve on teams and task
forces to plan and implement specific projects and museum-wide initiatives that
align with PEM’s strategic planning.
Collaborate with the Curatorial Team and across the museum,
especially with Exhibition Planning and Design, Learning and Civic Engagement,
Collection Services, Development, and Marketing and Communications, on a
variety of projects.
Develop and administer realistic
budgets, work plans, and schedules, and practice accountability.
7-10 years or
more of curatorial practice or comparable experience, preferably in a museum or
other cultural institution.
degree in Art History or the Humanities preferred.
Essential Experience and Abilities
expertise and passion for American art and a robust professional network.
Enthusiasm for new forms of engagement in curatorial practice and
Resourcefulness and nimbleness; an
ability to work independently, and be self-directed
Can adjust easily to changing
priorities and complex situations.
Passion for collaboration and team-oriented work style; can build
team spirit and is a good listener; can recognize and reward the contribution
of others; and can communicate openly, decisively and proactively.
fully engage the community-at-large.
Excellent writing, research,
speaking, and interpersonal communication skills.
Time management and multitasking
Takes initiative in identifying
and fulfilling needs and implementing new administrative systems.
Highly organized and detail
Positive, can-do attitude and
sense of humor.