Curator/Associate Curator of Ceramics – Museums at Washington and Lee University, VA

Job Description:

The Museums at W&L (MWL) seek a collaborative, passionate, and experienced Curator/Associate Curator of Ceramics (ACC) to lead the development and interpretation of the ceramics collection. The collection consists of roughly 6,000 objects dating from the 15th to the 21st century. The collection’s strength consists of Asian export, British, Continental European, and American porcelains made between 1500 and 1900, with a recently initiated collection of 20th and 21st-century ceramics, including the works of Ohi Chozaemon XI, Sharon Norwood, Michelle Erickson, Roberto Lugo, and Kathleen Wall.

To be effective in this role, the ACC will have an in-depth understanding of ceramics, a broad knowledge of art history or decorative arts, with a particular interest in modern or contemporary work with sensitivity to the historic collection. The ACC will educate, provoke, and engage others about ceramics, work with donors to enhance and grow the collection, and further position MWL as a leader in ceramics through outreach, exhibitions, and publications.

Working under the supervision of the Director of Museums, the Curator/Associate Curator will deepen engagement with the historic collection, shape the future of the modern and contemporary collection, and oversee its care and interpretation. The ACC will work with the Director to carry out the organization’s overall collecting objectives and identify funding sources for acquisitions, conservation, programs, and exhibitions. Through association with W&L, the ACC will be afforded the opportunity for scholarly interaction with colleagues and collaborative educational programming. Additionally, the ACC will work closely with the Curators of Academic Engagement and Curator of Art to engage students and faculty in research, curatorial projects, and public programming.

The successful candidate must enjoy collaborating and engaging with colleagues, as well as building relationships with key stakeholders across the W&L community and beyond. The candidate must be committed to fostering inclusion and will have well-developed project management, communication, and team-building skills.

About the Museums at W&L:

The Museums at W&L (MWL) consist of three sites: the Reeves Museum of Ceramics, the University Chapel & Galleries, and Watson Galleries. Its mission is to advance learning through direct engagement with the collections and facilitate an interdisciplinary appreciation of art, history, and culture. As an academic museum and an essential learning resource, MWL’s vision is tied to Washington and Lee University’s mission and is committed to W&L students and faculty, University stakeholders, and the Rockridge community.

The Museums’ collection contains over 13,000 objects from diverse periods, geographies, and various media. The ceramics collection, roughly 6,000 objects, ranges in age from 4,000-year-old Chinese pots to contemporary bowls for a Japanese tea ceremony. The collection’s strength consists of Asian export porcelain, British, Continental European, and American earthenwares, stonewares, and porcelains made between 1500 and 1900. The ceramics collection recently expanded to include contemporary works by Pueblo potters and Japanese ceramicists, including works by Sharon Norwood and Roberto Lugo.  The Ceramics collection is primarily displayed in the Reeves Museum of Ceramics and Watson Galleries.

The art collection, roughly 8,000 works of art, consists of early American portraits by artists such as Charles Willson Peale and Gilbert Stuart, a growing collection of 20th and 21st-century including works by Elizabeth Catlett, Fernando Botero, William Christenberry, Sam Gilliam, Sally Mann, and Andy Warhol. In addition, the collection includes American painter Louise Herreshoff Eaton Reeves, Chinese fan paintings, 20th-century Chinese brush paintings, and Japanese woodblock prints.

The History Collection, roughly 1,000 works, encompasses four centuries of material culture. It is a vital and evolving record of the academic institution and its manifold ties to the region and the nation. It comprises a historic collection associated with the Washington, Custis, and Lee families of Virginia, and a growing collection related to the history and culture of Washington and Lee University.

About Washington and Lee University:

Washington and Lee University (W&L) is a small liberal arts college nestled in the Virginia mountains, with an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,860. W&L is the ninth-oldest college in the U.S. and a top-ranked private university. W&L is located in Lexington (pop. 7,000), a vibrant and picturesque town in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

To achieve our mission as a liberal arts college, we continually strive to foster an inclusive campus community, which recognizes the value of all persons regardless of identity. Along with the University, Museums at W&L is committed to contributing to an educational environment that is rich with cultural, social, and intellectual diversity.

Essential Functions:

  • In developing exhibitions and related programs and publications, the ACC seeks to collaborate with other curators and museum staff, as well as faculty and students, the Rockbridge community, and other museum colleagues locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Contributes to the development of the Museum’s overall strategic planning initiatives. Assists with cultivating and stewarding donor relationships in collaboration with the museum director, development team, and other museum staff.
  • Manages and develops the ceramics collection and Asian art acquisition endowments in consultation with museum director. Refines the collection and makes recommendations for acquisitions and deaccessions. Ensures that curatorial initiatives and practices are in alignment with W&L’s DEIA values and strategic initiatives.
  • In collaboration with the collections team, expands physical and digital access to ceramics collections, establishes priorities for storage and display, and works with contracted specialists to identify conservation needs and treatment.
  • Conceptualizes and presents one to three exhibitions per year in a variety of formats, including utilizing the permanent collection and works on loan. Oversees installations including choosing appropriate themes, drafting and managing budgets, and implementing designs and layouts. Writes for in-gallery needs at levels required for a range of audiences, including text panels, exhibition labels, gallery guides, catalogue essays, etc.
  • Performs other related tasks and duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • An M.A., MFA, or Ph.D. in Ceramics, Art History, or a related field. Must have expertise in one or more of the following areas: Asian ceramics, European ceramics, American ceramics, or Asian Art.
  • 3-5 years of full-time curatorial experience caring for and preserving an art collection, and experience working on exhibitions.
  • Knowledge of museum ethics and the legal regulations governing collecting.
  • Demonstrated strength working collaboratively and in an innovative manner.

Minimum Pay: $63,000 – Pay Commensurate with Experience

Work Schedule: M-F, 8:30-4:30 flexible hours, with occasional night and weekend hours. Some travel may be required.

Application Instructions:  Review of applications will begin on March 15 and continue until the position is filled.  Resume and cover letter are required. Upload both required documents to the Resume/CV upload section of the application. You will be asked to provide names and contact information for three professional references.

External Applicants: Application instructions for external applicants are located on the or here.

Current W&L Employees: Apply from your existing Workday account. Instructions are located at or here.

Physical Requirements:

  • Fingering: Picking, pinching, typing or otherwise working, primarily with fingers rather than with whole hand or arm as in handling.
  • Grasping: Applying pressure to an object with the fingers and palm.
  • Repetitive motions: Making substantial movements (motions) of the wrists, hands, and/or fingers.
  • Walking: Moving about on foot to accomplish tasks, particularly for long distances or moving from one work site to another.
  • Standing: Remaining upright on the feet, particularly for sustained periods of time.
  • Balancing: Maintaining body equilibrium to prevent falling when walking, standing or crouching on narrow, slippery or erratically moving surfaces. This factor is important if the amount and kind of balancing the amount and kind of balancing exceeds that needed for ordinary locomotion and maintenance of body equilibrium.
  • Climbing: Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles and the like, using feet and legs and/or hands and arms. Body agility is emphasized. This factor is important if the amount and kind of climbing required exceeds that required for ordinary locomotion.
  • Stooping: Bending body downward and forward by bending spine at the waist. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires full use of the lower extremities and back muscles.
  • Kneeling: Bending legs at knee to come to a rest on knee or knees.
  • Crouching: Bending the body downward and forward by bending leg and spine.
  • Crawling: Moving about on hands and knees or hands and feet.
  • Reaching: Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
  • Pushing: Using upper extremities to press against something with steady force in order to thrust forward, downward or outward.
  • Pulling: Using upper extremities to exert force in order to draw, drag, haul or tug objects in a sustained motion.
  • Lifting: Raising objects from a lower to a higher position or moving objects horizontally from position to position. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires the substantial use of the upper extremities and back muscles.

Working Conditions: The worker is not substantially exposed to adverse environmental conditions.

Types of Work: Light work: Exerting up to 20 pounds of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly to move objects. If the use of arm and/or leg controls requires exertion of forces greater than that for Sedentary Work and the worker sits most of the time, the job is rated for Light Work.

Position Type:

Exempt, Full Time, Benefit Eligible

The university requires employees to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including a minimum of one booster.  New employees must provide proof of at least their first shot prior to the first day of employment. Individuals may seek a medical or a religious exemption to the vaccination requirement.

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