The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s celebrated international museum and houses important collections of art, culture and nature. ROM is the largest and most attended museum in Canada, attracting more than 1.3 million visitors per year. It has a membership of over 24,000 households and 66,700 individual members and an annual budget of $80 million CAD. ROM is a world leader in communicating its research and collections to the public. A globally recognized field research institute, home to more than 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, ROM features 40 galleries and exhibition spaces in its original heritage building and its 2007 Michael Lee-Chin Crystal designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind.
Evolving for the 21st Century
ROM’s vision is to become a distinctly 21st-century museum, one that will be globally known for expanding the boundaries of knowledge, innovation in presenting that knowledge, and public relevance within the intersecting worlds of art, culture, and nature. To realize this vision, ROM has embarked on a new strategic direction that builds on its strengths and capabilities while evolving in step with a rapidly changing world. The Museum is becoming an ever more outward-facing institution, focused on playing a central role in community and cultural life, while increasing impact – artistic, cultural, and scientific – nationally and internationally.
Situated in the most diverse major city in the world, within a province and country known for pluralism, openness and global perspectives, ROM is well positioned for the future and for an even greater role on the world stage. By leveraging ROM’s strengths and capabilities, and applying them in fresh and far-reaching ways, by investing to create greater engagement through inclusion, transdisciplinary thinking, digital practices and innovation, ROM is charting a new and bold way forward as it pursues its goal to become one of the world’s foremost museums. Learn more about ROM’s Strategic Direction.
ROM seeks a thoughtful, strategic curator, gifted at communications and alliances, with a strong background in African contemporary, historic and diasporic art for its Curator of Global Africa position. The successful candidate will lead programming and presentation of ROM’s Global Africa collection in galleries, exhibitions, and other initiatives developed through collaboration with local communities, artists and scholars and with a commitment to using community-engaged curatorial models. This Curator will develop and implement a strategy to reinterpret the existing Global Africa collection that ROM has built in the past and to expand its holdings, especially in representation of contemporary Global Africa. The curator will expand the reach of ROM scholarship and museum initiatives through publications, lectures, and academic work. In the context of ROM’s strategic direction toward a more global, transdisciplinary storytelling model, the Global Africa curator will champion cross-cultural and transdisciplinary perspectives that highlight the relevance of ROM’s collections of art, culture, and nature in contemporary societies.
The Curator of Global Africa is responsible for the development and care of ROM’s Global Africa collection, which counts over 12,000 objects from the African continent and beyond. This is the largest collection of African art in Canada and one that offers endless opportunities for engagement and collaboration with the diverse African and African diaspora communities in the Greater Toronto Area as well as researchers and students. This position will also be responsible for expanding the research on the provenance of ROM’s historical holdings, strategic deaccessioning, repatriation, and expansion of the collection in keeping with contemporary museum practice and thought in the field. In a moment when the push for repatriation recurrently questions the historical foundation of the encyclopedic museum, gallery development, exhibitions and collecting strategies must connect the past with the present in an ethically grounded, visually effective, community-minded and emotionally engaging way.
ROM welcomes candidates who are passionate about the study and interpretation of the arts of Global Africa, and who are invested in new ways of thinking about and presenting arts of Africa and its diaspora communities in an encyclopedic museum. Applicants with research specializing in historical and contemporary aspects of African art history, visual studies or material culture are encouraged to apply.
The successful candidate will work closely with local Black communities, including both Anglophone and Francophone diaspora communities, global African partners, donors, scholars, and diverse ROM audiences. Critically, the successful candidate will take a leadership role in reinterpreting ROM’s art and heritage from Global Africa and developing a new vision for both permanent and temporary displays. The curator will be a specialist within the field but also interested in broad issues and questions related to Indigenous art and cultures that have relevance in Canada and the contemporary world. Curatorial knowledge should extend widely regarding historical periods and media.
ROM is open to considering a range of candidates from an Associate Curator level to Senior Curator, consistent with the candidate’s experience and the strategic goals of the Museum. The position reports to the Co-Chief Curator, Art and Culture, and the Curator will be a member of the ROM Curatorial Union (ROMCA).
Duties & Responsibilities
Exhibitions and Collections
- Steward the Global Africa collection, including study, rotation and display, care and record-keeping, provenance research, digitizing and publication.
- Curate ROM’s Global Africa collection with a commitment to collaboration, including with external community stakeholders and with internal curatorial colleagues and interpretive staff to generate important visitor-centric and transdisciplinary exhibitions.
- As part of an integrated team of ROM curators and staff, develop innovative and relevant interpretive approaches for the Global Africa Gallery as a part of ROM’s Gallery Master Planning.
- Establish a 10-year Global Africa collection development plan in alignment with ROM’s mission, vision, and strategic planning, and acquiring and repatriating in accordance with ethical standards.
- Work with African partners and museum leadership in stewarding collaborations that may lead to repatriation or restitution of objects.
Public Programs and Outreach
- Work collaboratively with museum educators and engagement staff to initiate programs and school curriculum related to the arts and cultures of Global Africa and with community stakeholders to ensure programming is aligned with issues relevant to broad, contemporary audiences.
- Working with interpretation and education colleagues, propose, prepare and give public programs, lectures, tours, and workshops to the general public, professional colleagues, volunteers, local cultural organizations, and other groups.
- Engage the many African diaspora communities in Toronto, Ontario and Canada including business and cultural communities.
- In collaboration with fundraising staff, actively cultivate support for exhibitions, galleries, programs, symposia, acquisitions, research grants, and fellowships through association with cultural and professional organizations, foundations, and patrons at the local, national and international level.
Research and Publications:
- Maintain professional affiliations in scholarly and museum curatorial organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.
- Strengthen connections with colleagues from the University of Toronto and other academic institutions in the city.
- Explore, maintain and promote relationships with museums and other cultural organizations in Africa and abroad.
Education & Experience:
- A Ph.D. in African or African diaspora art history, contemporary art, culture, anthropology or a closely related field at the time of appointment, or the equivalent in relevant experience, exhibitions and/or publications.
- A strong curatorial record focusing on the arts and heritage of Global Africa and /or a strong academic record in a relevant discipline.
- A keen interest in the dynamics of cultural heritage and contemporary culture is a plus.
- A strong background of work within a museum environment, knowledge of peer institutions, and experience developing and implementing programs and exhibitions, and working with internal and external stakeholders; experience working with issues of provenance is an asset.
- Track record of working successfully with community partners to establish institutional trust and repair relationships. Experience facilitating difficult conversations around race, equity and social justice is a plus.
- A record of peer-reviewed publications is an asset. There is an opportunity for cross-appointment to the University of Toronto.
- Intellectually curious with an appetite to engage a wide array of topics and to work with colleagues across disciplines.
- Ambitious for the institution and its efforts to develop strong networks into the local community and with established international scholars and institutions.
- Has an interest in leveraging interdisciplinary possibilities and programs to build collaborative partnerships internally and externally.
- Responsive to the ideas of others. Has high emotional intelligence.
- A strong communicator and a door-opener, proactively seeking partnerships, networks and input from community members. Able to build alliances.
- Able to prioritize competing demands within a large, multi-layered, and active museum.
- Enjoys working as part of a strong and integrated team to build new experiences for ROM’s visitors.
- Aspirational to build high caliber programs, but patient and flexible, able to set incremental goals.
- Sensitive to cultural heritage and aware of the complex societal pressures present in this work.
ROM curators are also expected to:
- Participate in fulfilling the learning mission of the museum, through university teaching and/or through supervision of interns and students at the museum.
- Facilitate research on the collection by outside/visiting scholars and develop one’s own program of original, scholarly research, usually relating to ROM collections and exhibitions.
- Work with the ROM Library to build resources on the study of the arts of Global Africa.
- Salary range is $68,487 – $150,000 CAD.
- ROM is open to considering a range of candidates from an Associate Curator level up to Senior Curator, consistent with the candidate’s experience and the strategic goals of the museum. The salary increases according to rank and experience; the range is governed by Collective Agreement.
- Full benefit coverage includes medical and dental plan, life insurance, long term disability, and pension.
- NOTE: This is a unionized position, and the Curator will be a member of the ROM Curatorial Association (ROMCA).
To apply in confidence, email 1) letter expressing interest in this particular position, giving brief examples of past exhibition, programs and collections experience and proposed research areas and projects; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) names of three references with contact information. Submit application by May 12, 2023, to retained search firm: Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference, SearchandRef@museum-search.com. For additional information, visit: http://museum-search.com/open-searches/. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply for this international search. However, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. Nominations are welcome.
Short-listed candidates subsequently will be asked to provide publication samples.
ROM is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. ROM considers equity, diversity, and inclusivity to be foundational to their institutional success. They seek to foster a workplace that reflects the full breadth of the communities they serve and welcomes applications from women, racialized persons, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, LGBTQ2S+, and people with disabilities. Upon request, suitable accommodations are available under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) to applicants invited to an interview.
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