Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion
In late 2021, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) announced a transformational $25M gift from an anonymous donor to elevate and build out the Textile Art and Fashion department, creating a new Institute of Textile Art and Fashion within DAM. DAM seeks an experienced curator to serve as inaugural Director of the institute and as Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion. The successful candidate will be known and respected within their field of either textile art or fashion. They will bring significant exhibition and programming experience, research knowledge and networks to build a multi-faceted set of activities that give greater prominence to the institute as a whole. The head of institute will be expected to bring to fruition dynamic exhibitions that engage broad audiences and to create a space for scholarly research and exchange in both textile art and fashion. The new endowment offers a significant opportunity to grow the permanent collection and the head of institute will work with donors, collectors and patrons to build both the textile art and the fashion collections and to undertake research and conservation initiatives. They will supervise an assistant/associate curator (the position will be posted after the position of Director is filled), a curatorial assistant and a fellow (2 years position). The Director of the Institute will participate in the search and hire of the second curator, who will complement the expertise of the Director. The position of Director reports to the Chief Curator.
The successful candidate will be skilled in three areas: 1) developing dynamic exhibitions and learning and engagement programs for broad audiences that illuminate aspects of the collection and the relevance of both textile art and fashion; 2) building and supporting national and international scholarship and research in textile art and fashion that will include symposia and, occasionally, publications; 3) developing the textile art and fashion collections through strategic acquisitions and forward-looking relationships with donors, patrons, collectors, artists and others.
The Avenir Foundation Curator must have leadership qualities and excellent communication skills. They will communicate the value and excitement of the collections to the many constituencies of the DAM community. Much of the work at DAM is cross-departmental, and exhibitions are developed through advisory committees that often invite external perspectives. The successful candidate will be someone who enjoys collaboration, welcomes input from other museum staff and from external constituencies, and is willing to have guest- and co-curators for exhibitions in the department.
The candidate will come with active international networks that include a variety of individuals and organizations in the art, textile art, fashion, and museum sectors. The curator must enjoy working with donors, collectors, artists, and the department’s Collectors’ Group, and will welcome wide audiences, including families and students.
The Textile Art and Fashion department encompasses over 5,000 objects from Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and ranges from archaeological textiles to contemporary works of art in fiber and fashion from the 18th century to today. In 2012, the Avenir Foundation directed significant support to the department which allowed for the remodeling of the sixth-floor Textile Art and Fashion Galleries. The gallery has about 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, in addition to the PreVIEW textile conservation lab and the Nancy Lake Benson Thread Studio. The endowment for the Institute includes significant acquisition funds for both textile art and fashion, and the curator will have the opportunity to develop both collections.
- Take responsibility for the textile art and fashion collections and oversee their study, care, display, record keeping, publication, and provenance research.
- Develop and implement ambitious exhibitions and programs, working collaboratively with internal and external partners; oversee collections-based installations and permanent collection rotations in the Textile Art and Fashion Galleries.
- Build and refine both collections and collaborate with collectors, patrons, curatorial colleagues, and cultural organizations to generate important exhibitions, publications, and public programs.
- Actively cultivate funding for acquisitions, exhibitions, research grants, and fellowships through association with professional organizations, foundations, and patrons on regional, national, and international levels.
- Prepare and give lectures, tours, and workshops to the public, professional colleagues, and other groups.
- Maintain professional affiliations in scholarly organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.
- Participate in institutional planning and budgeting processes.
- Supervise department support staff, volunteers, and contract workers as necessary.
- Work collaboratively with educators, project managers and designers in the development, creation, interpretation, and installation of permanent galleries and special exhibitions organized or booked by the museum.
- Work actively with collecting and support groups.
- Must be willing to travel, if deemed safe (see COVID-19 restrictions and Institution’s guidelines).
- Familiarity with both textile art and fashion collections and profound knowledge in either textile art or fashion history.
- Strong network of professional colleagues, collectors, dealers, and artists.
- Solid record of exhibitions and publications, and fundraising and public speaking abilities.
- Must have an excellent command of spoken and written English, able to generate content in English for broad audiences.
- Spanish, French or other languages desirable
Education or Formal Training:
- M.A. required (minimum), preferably in related field
- Five or more years as a curator, or equivalent professional experience.
- Experience in museum installations and collaborative projects.
- Experience in publication editing and/or conference organizing.
Qualified candidates are expected to exemplify the DAM’s internal values, which include being dynamic, respectful, inclusive, creative, and curious. The ability to maintain effective and positive working relationships with visitors, employees, volunteers, representatives of public and private entities, policy-making bodies, and contractors is critical to the success of this position.
- The hiring salary for the position is $93,000-$115,000, based on experience.
- A comprehensive benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision coverage; 100% paid life insurance; short- and long-term disability insurance; paid time-off for vacation, sickness and holidays; 403(b) Retirement Plan with immediate eligibility to contribute and, after one year of employment, an employer contribution and match; a free RTD Eco pass and additional benefits.
HOW TO APPLY
Nominations and inquiries welcome. To apply: email cover letter and résumé and names of 3 references with contact information by July 8, 2022, to: Connie Rosemont, Senior Search Consultant at: email@example.com. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; application review will begin on or about July 11, 2022, on a rolling basis until a hire is made. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant, and all applications and nominations are kept confidential. For full details, visit www.museum-search.com/open-searches/.
DAM provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.
The Museum believes vaccination is an important measure to protect the health and safety of employees, volunteers, visitors, clients, family members, and those who visit the workplace, from significant illness due to COVID-19 infection. Effective August 15, 2021, as a condition of employment, employees hired after August 15, 2021, must present proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the commencement of employment, or receive an exemption or other reasonable accommodation due to circumstances protected under federal or state law that prevent the employee from being vaccinated.
About the Textile Art and Fashion Collection
The origins of the department date back to 1927 with the gift of a Saltillo serape and a Kashmir shawl to the museum. Over the ensuing decades, the diversity of the collection grew dramatically under the tenure of several curators, alternately specializing in textiles and fashion, starting with the appointment of the first curator, Lydia Roberts Dunham, in 1955. Following major acquisition and publication support by the Neusteter Fashion, Costume and Textile Institute starting in 1962, Imelda Gatton DeGraw served as curator from 1965 to 1992. DeGraw was followed by Alice Zrebiec, who curated the collection through 2014.
In 2012, the Avenir Foundation endowed the department, which allowed for the remodeling of the sixth-floor textile art and fashion gallery, which was completed in 2013 and includes the PreVIEW textile conservation lab and the Nancy Lake Benson Thread Studio. In 2015, Florence Müller became the department’s curator and successfully grew the fashion collection through international and local acquisitions. In 2021, an anonymous $25 million endowment gift was announced, which will support programming, collection acquisitions and outreach for the department.
Adjacent to the main galleries, PreVIEW shares a behind-the-scenes look at museum textile conservators’ work examining and repairing works in the collection, as well as how objects are prepped for exhibition by the curatorial staff. The Nancy Lake Benson Thread Studio offers interactive activities and displays to engage visitors with the role of textiles in daily life and to highlight the creativity and ingenuity of textile artists and designers across time and around the world. Learn more about the Textile Art and Fashion Collections.
About the Denver Art Museum
Founded in 1893, the museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. DAM has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of world art between Chicago and the West Coast. Internationally known for its holdings of Indigenous arts of North America, the museum has also assembled an extensive group of objects from the art of the Ancient Americas as well as Latin American art, now considered one of the finest collections anywhere. Other areas of concentration are western American art, European and American painting and sculpture, architecture and design, modern and contemporary, Asian, African, Oceanic, and fashion art and textiles.
DAM celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018 and through the years has experienced remarkable growth, with exhibitions and programs engaging more than 700,000+ visitors per year. The museum’s historic 210,000-square-foot Gio Ponti-designed Martin Building opened in 1971 and recently underwent a $150-million renovation that included the addition of a 50,000-square foot welcome center.
As an institution, DAM is both a platform for and an amplifier of the voices of people of all races. DAM acknowledges that Black lives matter and that communities of color – Latinos and Latinas, Indigenous, Asian and Black, among others – have been underrepresented in art museums over decades, both internally and externally. DAM is committed to elevating all voices, artworks and perspectives and strives to support racial equity inside and out. Candidates with a firm commitment to this institutional position are encouraged to apply. Visit www.denverartmuseum.org to learn more.
The Mile High City is now the 19th largest city in the U.S., larger than Washington, D.C., Boston, or Atlanta. It is known for the young, creative, entrepreneurial populations it attracts from both Coasts and for fabulous skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Arts, culture and creativity are fully integrated into daily life in Denver, and the city is home to numerous museums and performing arts venues. It also hosts public art, a downtown theatre district, art districts, an indie music scene, creative-sector businesses and microbreweries and distilleries. Despite its size, Denver is a livable, friendly city where many DAM staff walk or bike to work. Its temperate climate boasts 300 days of sunshine per year. The city of Denver includes a well-established Asian American community featuring a rich variety of cultural organizations and events.
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