The Denver Art Museum (DAM) seeks a curatorial leader to develop and promote the museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art (PIWAA). The Director-Curator (DC) will bring a track record of developing relevant exhibitions and will be expected to bring to fruition exhibitions, scholarship, research and programming that will solidify PIWAA’s reputation as a preeminent resource for the study of western American art. The DC will report to the Chief Curator and will oversee DAM’s notable collection of western American art, spanning the historical to the contemporary.
The successful candidate will be skilled in three areas: 1) developing creative exhibitions and programs that illuminate aspects of the collection and the broad reach and importance of western American art; 2) building and supporting national and international scholarship and research in western American art through an annual symposium and through publications; 3) communicating the value and excitement of the collection and the genre to the public, potential donors, collectors, and stakeholders.
The Director of PIWAA must have leadership qualities and excellent communication skills. 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 DC will come with active networks in the U.S. and, ideally, abroad, that include a variety of individuals and organizations in the art, culture, and museum sectors. The Western art curator must enjoy working with donors, collectors, and the department’s Friends group, and will welcome wide audiences, including families and students.
All of the western American art galleries have been recently reinstalled and just re-opened in October 2021 in conjunction with the re-opening of the Martin Building, which was closed for four years for major renovations. The reinstallation of the permanent collection galleries, from historic through contemporary, reflects two decades of ambitious planning and vision. Since its founding in 2001, PIWAA has become a leader in the field, producing scholarly research and programs, including 24 exhibitions, more than 18 books, and 15 years of annual symposia.
The museum’s collection of western American art has particular strengths in the Taos Society of Artists, Early Modernism, and nineteenth-century bronze sculpture. Today, it stands as one of the finest collections of its kind and, because of its unique location in the Rocky Mountain West, allows the Denver Art Museum to tell the story of American art from a western perspective.
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.
- Take responsibility for the western American art collections and oversee their study, care, display, record keeping, publication, and provenance research.
- Build and refine the 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).
- Knowledge of western American art and its historical context.
- 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.
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.
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 $80,000-$100,000, 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; an RTD Eco pass at a discounted rate; and a free Family-level membership to DAM.
HOW TO APPLY
Nominations and inquiries welcome. To apply: email cover letter and résumé (Word documents preferred) and names of 3 references with contact information by November 28, 2021, to: Connie Rosemont, Senior Search Consultant at: email@example.com. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; application review will begin on or about November 22 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.
MORE ABOUT THE PETRIE INSTITUTE OF WESTERN AMERICAN ART
DAM has collected art related to the West for over 60 years. PIWAA’s holdings date from the early 1800s to the present and include an impressive mix of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by renowned artists who worked in and depicted the West. The collection of bronze sculptures, several significant paintings by members of the Taos Society of Artists, and examples of 20th-century modernism make the collection one of national significance.
Paintings by Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Hill represent some of the museum’s most important nineteenth-century landscapes. These provide visitors many opportunities to enjoy signature icons of the West’s rugged and dramatic scenery. Other significant nineteenth-century holdings include painted and printed portraits by Charles Bird King, such as Hayne Hudjihini (Eagle of Delight), that are important records of the Indian delegations that visited Washington, D.C. in the 1820s, as well as Charles Deas’s Long Jakes, “The Rocky Mountain Man,” an iconic portrayal of the storied “mountain men” that populated accounts of the West.
The Cheyenne by Frederic Remington is, according to former Director Lewis I. Sharp, “the single most important Remington bronze in existence,” owing to its innovative composition and exceptional quality, and it is joined by other Remington bronzes, including The Broncho Buster, as well as examples by Alexander Phimister Proctor and James Earle Fraser. Along with paintings by Charles Marion Russell, including Buffalo Hunt and In the Enemy’s Country, these depictions of the Old West have captured audiences’ imaginations for over a century.
Important paintings by the Taos Society of Artists, including Victor Higgins’s Taos, New Mexico and E. Martin Henning’s The Rabbit Hunt, allow PIWAA to trace the friendships and intersecting careers of this group of artists who were some of the first Euro-American artists inspired by the light, landscape, and local inhabitants of New Mexico.
One of PIWAA’s great strengths is its modern and Regionalist works, including Robert Henri’s Tom Po Qui, Marsden Hartley’s New Mexico Recollection #6, Kenneth Miller Adam’s The Reapers, and the later abstraction Springtime in the Mountains by Ethel Magafan. These paintings allow the museum to tell the story of American modernism’s rise and expansion throughout the West and a more comprehensive story of the region’s artistic legacy. Learn more: https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/collection/western-american-art.
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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