Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Modern/Contemporary Art – University of Michigan Museum of Art

About UMMA

Founded in 1946, the University of Michigan Museum of Art is free and fully accessible to the public, providing local, regional, and national audiences with unique opportunities to explore and grapple with current issues, art, and ideas about the present and past. Recently ranked the number one public university art museum in the country, UMMA welcomes more than 240,000 visitors every year and engages over 40,000 of these visitors through 900 annual educational and public programs. UMMA’s permanent collections include more than 21,000 objects acquired over 150 years; special exhibitions, which number between 12 and 15 annually, feature both emerging and internationally acclaimed artists. Under the direction of Christina Olsen who was appointed Museum Director in 2017, UMMA is experiencing great momentum and a dramatically higher level of ambition. With a renewed focus on campus collaborations, nationally important exhibitions, and building its capacity for research and partnerships, UMMA has launched several strategic initiatives that expand its international profile and commitment to partnering with a broad and diverse public. The Museum has also strengthened its core work in teaching and learning. It produces groundbreaking research, offers broad and deep access to collections and teaching resources, and works closely with the public and the campus to continually re-examine the roles of a 21st century museum.

Position Summary

UMMA seeks a creative, dynamic Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs to help develop and lead an ambitious artistic program while providing strategic vision and managerial oversight for the Museum’s exhibitions, collections, and publications. Reporting to the Museum Director, s/he is responsible for the administration, coordination, and successful implementation of all aspects of curatorial affairs. The Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs will be a proven administrator with experience mentoring staff and a well developed curatorial practice. Expertise in late-19th century, modern, or contemporary art is required, with a focus on global, European or American art. Candidates under-represented in the museum curatorial field are strongly encouraged to apply.

 This unique opportunity will appeal to candidates who thrive in a cohesive, team-based environment, and who are excited by the possibilities of working in a large, research-based university while also understanding its challenges.

Duties and Responsibilities

Strategic Leadership (40%)

  • Collaborates with the Director to conceive and shape a distinctive and dynamic exhibition program that advances the Museum’s visibility and reputation, and includes exhibitions that travel nationally and internationally to ensure the Director’s strategic vision is realized. The Museum’s program includes both contemporary and historic exhibitions, and it prioritizes projects that are innovative and current in approach, material, and point of view.
  • Directs the creative work of the curatorial team to produce well-researched, exciting, and original exhibitions and programs relevant to contemporary culture and issues, and that achieve established goals for audience engagement and impact.
  • Provides strategic direction for the collection’s long-term growth through key acquisitions and the development of a collection plan.
  • Directs long-term planning and priorities for the Asian Conservation Lab.
  • Oversees and conceives innovative print and online publications and programs that expand collections strengths and key initiatives.
  • In partnership with the Deputy Director for Public Experience and Learning, oversees the nascent Power Family Program for Inuit Art, including hiring guest curators, guiding ongoing Inuit art installations, and building partnerships and collaborations with other institutions and programs.
  • Plays a key role in UMMA’s long-range institutional planning efforts, such as establishing programmatic and collection development priorities, conservation planning, and strategic planning.

Administration and Supervision (40%)

  • Supervises the curatorial, exhibitions and publications, collections and registration, and conservation staff, encouraging their professional growth and collaboration.
  • Actively mentors curators, interns, and students in current curatorial practices, theories and evolving discourse around curatorial practice, and in particular works to strengthen exhibitions ideas, writing, and implementation.
  • Collaborates with the Director of Exhibitions & Publications to develop exhibition and publication budgets.
  • Oversees curatorial rotations of works of art in the European, American, and Modern/Contemporary American and European galleries. and incoming and outgoing loans, working closely with the Chief Registrar.
  • Collaborates with UMMA development staff on fundraising, actively cultivating relationships with existing major and potential donors, foundations, collectors, and alumni.
  • Collaborates with other key staff to develop strategies for the Museum’s collections and exhibitions on digital platforms.
  • Directs priorities for the acquisition committee, working closely with development staff.
  • Serves as a key member of the management team.

Creative Output/Service to the Field (20%)

  • Occasionally curates exhibitions in area of expertise. This might include one modestly scaled exhibition per year, or a more ambitious and complex exhibition every several years.
  • Writes and edits exhibition and publication materials that convey sophisticated ideas while also appealing to a broad range of visitors and readers.
  • Builds and maintains a network of professional relationships with artists, curators, gallerists, critics, and other specialists locally, nationally, and globally.
  • Contributes actively to programs, talks, symposia, and electronic media.
  • When possible, teaches courses and workshops to undergraduate and graduate students.

 Required Qualifications

  • PhD in Art History or equivalent experience preferred, with extensive knowledge and emphasis in modern, contemporary, or late 19th-century art, and appreciation for the full range of the field and its global reach.
  • Minimum of eight to ten years relevant work experience in a museum environment.
  • A minimum of five years of proven experience leading and managing museum projects, programs, supervising staff and leading teams, and mentoring others.
  • Advanced knowledge of and proven experience in museum curating, research, and collection development.
  • Understanding of, and sensitivity to, diverse communities served; locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex concepts about history, visual arts, and cultural practice to a public that ranges from casual museum-goers to academics.
  • High-level cultivation and grant development experience.
  • Ability to collaborate internally and externally, and cultivate strong relationships with faculty, donors, and colleagues.
  • Ability to balance the creative and intellectual work of curatorial oversight with administrative, financial, and practical management duties.
  • Ability to maintain the highest ethical standards related to organizational responsibilities and public accountability.

 For full consideration please provide a resume with cover letter, describing how your experience and qualifications relate to the position requirements. Please apply online at

UMMA seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitment to serve the diverse people of Michigan, to sustain the excellence of the university, and to offer our students richly varied disciplines, perspectives and ways of knowing and learning.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art seeks to transform individual and civic life by promoting the discovery, contemplation, and enjoyment of the art of our world.

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended.

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

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