The Honolulu Museum of Art calls for Director of Curatorial Affairs

16 June 2020


Job Summary:

Working as a strategic thought partner to the Museum Director and as the lead administrator for the Curatorial Department, the Director of Curatorial Affairs is a part of the senior management team and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Curatorial Department and for fostering a collaborative culture within the department and across the museum. This position will shape and implement the Museum’s curatorial objectives; champions a vibrant and innovative approach to art and is committed to exploring the evolving relationship between art museums and their audiences with an emphasis on visitor’s experience. In collaboration with the Director, the Director of Curatorial Affairs sets the tone and substance of curatorial initiatives by working with the senior management team, curators and curatorial staff to creatively utilize the collection and exhibitions to engage, educate, and expand participation, with the overall objective of enlivening the institution and enhancing its reputation locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. By integrating a world renowned encyclopedic art collection with contemporary exhibition strategies, the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) is positioned to be a regional and international leader in creating a range of art experiences for diverse audiences.

  • FLSA Status: Exempt
  • Work Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm Some evenings and weekends

HoMA was founded in 1927 by Anna Rice Cooke, the daughter of a
prominent missionary family. She married Charles Montague Cooke, also of a prominent missionary
family, and settled in Honolulu, building a home in 1882 on Beretania Street, on the site where HoMA resides today.
From the beginning, Anna Rice Cooke, who spoke fluent Hawaiian, wanted a Museum that reflected the
unique attributes of Hawaiʻi’s multicultural makeup. Not bound by the traditional western idea of art
Museums, she also wanted to create an institution that showcased the island’s natural beauty and climate
in an open and airy environment. Her thoughtful consideration is evidenced in the charming courtyards
that interconnect the various galleries throughout the Museum.

HoMA is dedicated to the collection, preservation,interpretation and teaching of the visual arts, and the presentation of exhibitions, performing arts and public programs specifically relevant to Hawaiʻi’s ethnically diverse community.
The permanent collection has grown from 500 works to more than 50,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years.
The Museum has one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States, including an unrivaled collection by artists of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. The collection also contains significant holdings in American and European painting and decorative arts, 19th- and 20th-century art, an extensive collection of works on paper, Asian textiles, and traditional works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Other highlights include the Samuel H. Kress collection of Italian Renaissance paintings and the James A. Michener collection of ukiyo-e prints. In July 2011, The Contemporary Museum gifted its collections and assets to HoMA, merging the two art museums and ushering in a renewed commitment to the art of our time.

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Advanced degree in art history, museum administration, or commensurate experience required; PhD preferred.
  • 10 years applied knowledge of professional museum principles, practices and procedures; 10 years curatorial experience managing substantial departments, projects and program budgets.

Strategic Leadership and Management Acumen

With previous senior-level museum experience expected, the Director of Curatorial Affairs is skilled at building and leading high-performing, diverse teams of the highest degree of professionalism and guiding team members’ growth and development; has the ability to set clear priorities, delegate, and guide investment in people and systems. The ideal candidate will provide a productive work environment that matches the skill set and abilities of staff members as well as professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and engagement. The Director of Curatorial Affairs will foster a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, and teamwork within the Curatorial department and throughout the institution. The successful candidate will be an inclusive leader and manager of the highest integrity, with the ability to motivate, inspire, and engage staff around a shared vision; able to encourage and celebrate the talents of the team while also holding each accountable to mutually agreed-upon goals. Additionally, the Director of Curatorial Affairs will approach the Curatorial department’s operations and finances with focus and balance and will make decisions based on a clear understanding of the strategic objectives of the Museum. The Director of Curatorial Affairs will have excellent interpersonal skills, be systematic, detail oriented, patient, a self-starter, and works well under pressure. This individual manages time efficiently, analyzes and solves problems collaboratively.

Curatorial Leadership

The Director of Curatorial Affairs will have a sophisticated understanding and passion for art and art history, the materials, techniques, and condition of art objects, along with a robust record of exhibitions and scholarly publications; will have demonstrable success conceptualizing, designing, and executing creative and innovative exhibitions on complex subjects designed to appeal to broad audiences, and will be adept at working with the staff to bring the best out of them; has an ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects simultaneously. The Director of Curatorial Affairs brings a robust network of colleagues and collaborators in and outside of the art museum field, is comfortable in the broader arts and cultural community to advance the mission of HoMA locally, nationally, and internationally. This leader will have excellent presentation, verbal, and written communication skills.

Building Relationships and Using Influence

The successful candidate must establish rapport and cultivate relationships across all levels of the Museum, including serving as a consultative thought-leader and partner to the Director. The Director of Curatorial Affairs will have a demonstrated ability to connect with and build bridges with members, visitors, community leaders, trustees and donors. As a leader that brings an executive presence, the Director of Curatorial Affairs must be highly articulate and a strong communicator. This individual will foster trust and collaboration among team members and will possess the ability to manage through change with flexibility and poise; will be a strong leader, communicator, and collaborator who is skilled at listening to and learning from leadership and staff. This leader will embrace the culture of HoMA, while always having an eye on opportunities to foster best-in-class practices in a productive manner with colleagues. The Director of Curatorial Affairs will naturally inspire fellow leaders and staff to develop deeper relationships, leading the charge by example.

Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing the mission of HoMA, the relationship with the community and the commitment to its various stakeholders, the Director of Curatorial Affairs will be passionate about working in partnership with the staff, donors, and other partners to advance the mission and curatorial agenda. The Director of Curatorial Affairs is someone who has an anchor in history and understands how historic collections intersect with our contemporary world. The ideal candidate will possess and promote a deep appreciation for the collections, history, research, and scholarship and will demonstrate a commitment to public engagement and the visitor experience. Embracing HoMA’s culture while continually innovating alongside the leadership team, Trustees, staff, and volunteers, the Director of Curatorial Affairs will help expand the Museum’s brand and reach.

Essential Duties:

  • Develop a strategic approach to achieving the Museum’s goals for sustaining and caring for the collections and archives, conceiving and organizing collections displays and temporary exhibitions, and creating and presenting programs that engage HoMA’s diverse audiences creatively and effectively.
  • Assess department functions, priorities, and processes to ensure efficiencies, excellence, and alignment with museum best practices and AAM accreditation standards.
  • Encourage and celebrate the talents of the team while holding each accountable to institutional goals. Serve as a mentor and coach to staff in order to strengthen leadership skills, team dynamics, and collaboration within curatorial groups and across HoMA’s other departments.
  • Spearhead development of a comprehensive three- to five-year programmatic calendar for the Museum’s collections, galleries, and featured exhibitions that showcase the breadth of the collection, works outside of HoMA’s collection, all considered for engaging multiple constituencies.
  • Collaborate with staff for exhibition, collection-management, presentation, interpretation, publication and archive strategies consistent with key initiatives, goals and objectives of HoMA.
  • Manage high-level aspects of the exhibition schedule, assuring an appropriate balance of exhibitions. Ensure that the exhibition themes and ideas set forth are presented in a timely manner and within budget parameters.
  • Work collaboratively with the Director of Advancement in the cultivation of donors and general fundraising activities to benefit the acquisitions, conservation, exhibitions & publications, education and audience engagement programs.
  • Work collaboratively with the Director of Learning and Engagement to inform interpretation and audience engagement initiatives for collections and exhibitions.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Collections in identifying and shepherding acquisitions and deaccessions; facilitate decisions on exhibition loan requests and long term loan opportunities.
  • Advocate for internal initiatives that modernize, streamline, and integrate collection content, aligned with industry standards and using existing and new processes, to better communicate and connect with defined stakeholders and the general public, onsite and via the web.
  • Keep trustees and related committees informed on exhibition plans. Participate in Board meetings and standing committees of the Board; be the staff liaison for the Collections Committee.
  • Represent the Museum in professional, academic, and social forums with local/regional, national, and international colleagues and the broader cultural community through exhibition and research programs.
    Develop and monitor departmental and exhibition budgets, contracts, agreements, and other administrative documents.
  • Provide private and public presentations; widely represent the curatorial interests of HoMA
    Collaborate with curators and collections in prioritizing conservation initiatives.
    Recruit, hire, manage performance, and facilitate the training of staff as necessary.
    Perform other tasks and duties as assigned.

Traits and characteristics:

  • Strong yet collegial management; broad experience with a full range of strategic development and planning, and the ability to take charge of a wide range of situations and address or overcome misunderstandings or concerns.
  • Ability to analyze the impact of a strategic direction, understand its long term impact and advocate for either keeping course or modifying direction.
  • Must be diplomatic, analytical, of the highest integrity, and possess sound judgment.
    The successful candidate should demonstrate an ability to initiate and sustain momentum without close supervision.

Working Conditions and Atmosphere:

Members of the Senior Leadership Team at the Honolulu Museum of Art are expected to devote significant amounts of time and energy to the successful pursuit of their jobs. The Director of Curatorial Affairs must be prepared to work evenings and weekend hours on an occasional basis, in addition to fulfilling the performance obligations of a routine workday. Occasional travel may also be required.
The Director of Campus Operations works with minimum supervision. Work will often be performed with short deadlines and situations sensitive to the Museum. Regular office hours are required. Due to the nature of the responsibilities, evening and weekend work is sometimes required, and at times may be on an emergency basis.

The statements contained herein describe the scope of the responsibilities and essential functions of this position, but should not be considered to be an all-inclusive listing of work duties and requirements. Individuals may perform other duties as assigned including work in other areas to cover absences or relief to equalize peak work periods or otherwise balance the workload.

The Honolulu Museum of Art maintains a policy of nondiscrimination in all employment practices and decisions, ensuring equal employment opportunities for all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, including gender identity and expression, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, reproductive health decisions, marital status, arrest and court record, citizenship, credit history, military service, victim of domestic or sexual abuse status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law. This applies to both Honolulu Museum of Art employees and applicants for employment with the Museum. Any form of harassment of any employee because of any protected status is also prohibited.

To learn more about the position and to apply visit here.

Job description