The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a cultural institution that showcases art, culture, and nature from around the world and across the ages. Among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America and Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum, ROM has a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects, and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. ROM’s mission is to transform lives by helping people to understand the past, make sense of the present, and come together to shape a shared future. The museum is known globally for expanding the boundaries of knowledge and presenting that knowledge in new and innovative ways within the intersecting worlds of art, culture, and nature. ROM’s extensive exhibition schedule and public programs attract approximately 190,000 students and 1.3 million visitors or more in a typical year.
ROM’s collection of Indigenous Art and Cultures is significant within Canada, featuring more than 40,000 cultural objects, or belongings, and works of art from diverse lands and cultures. The collection includes important Indigenous ceremonial and cultural heritage items from many Indigenous communities spanning the last two centuries as well as important works of contemporary art.
Toronto, located on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, is the largest city in Canada and the most diverse city on the planet (as designated by the United Nations) with over 50% of the population being foreign born. The provincial capital of Ontario, it has a vibrant arts and culture scene, with over 164,000 culture jobs and numerous museums and performing arts organizations. Combining its original heritage architecture with the contemporary Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, ROM serves as a national landmark and a dynamic cultural destination in the heart of the city surrounded by universities, colleges, and specialized research centers.
Toronto was the first city in Canada to be designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts and is also the fastest-growing technology market in North America, with 80,100 jobs created—greater than the job growth in New York City, Seattle, and Boston combined. The city has also been undergoing a construction boom over the last decade. This increased commercial development is coinciding with major transportation upgrades, including the $640 million revitalization of Union Station, Canada’s busiest transportation hub. Toronto also plays a significant role in the global film industry, serving as home to an international film festival and as a filming location for numerous television shows and movies. With vibrant neighborhoods that offer both urban and suburban living options, quality schools and access to over 50 kilometres of waterfront with beaches, parks, marinas, and waterfront trails; Toronto consistently ranks as one of the most livable cities in North America.
Sources: census.gc.ca; cbc.ca; thestar.com; utoronto.ca; travelandlesisure.com; financialpost.com
Toward a Deeper Indigenous Partnership
A top priority of ROM’s strategic direction is forging new and stronger relationships between Indigenous nations and communities, and museums. Indigenous people must have a leading voice in determining how their cultural heritage is cared for and shared.
In doing this work, ROM is informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the recent Canadian Museums Association’s Moved to Action report as well as its 1994 Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples, and by current museological practices.
ROM is currently recruiting staff with robust ties to Indigenous nations or communities for key positions across museum departments and activities. These critical positions include the Vettoretto Curator of North American Archeology, the Hatch Curator of Indigenous Art & Culture, and an Interpretive Planner in the Exhibitions Development department. These colleagues will join the recently appointed Manager of Indigenous Learning and Programs in a cross-departmental cohort to play a leading role in establishing protocols and practices for the care of Indigenous collections and cultural belongings, cultivating formal relationships with First Nations governments, developing exhibitions and galleries, and presenting Indigenous cultures. Recognizing ROM’s origins in colonial practices, the museum is expanding staff training and building internal capacity to create a welcoming work environment for Indigenous colleagues. The museum is in contract discussions with an Indigenous expert in policy and protocols to help us in this regard.
For over 35 years, ROM has worked with Indigenous communities to repatriate ancestors and objects of cultural patrimony from its collection. Over the course of the last year ROM hosted collections visits for 38 Indigenous groups and provided extended consultation with 19 Indigenous groups or individuals, as well as ongoing consultations.
Since 2014, ROM has offered a robust program of Indigenous education, led by Indigenous educators. This work has been guided by an Indigenous Advisory Circle. Indigenous learning remains the most in-demand school program offering at ROM.
Over decades, ROM’s Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art and culture was developed with Indigenous consultation and partnership. In late 2022, however, ROM closed the Gallery, recognizing it needed to be rethought to further centre Indigenous perspectives. After a brief pause, ROM reopened the gallery and launched a series of updates led by two Indigenous museum consultants. These ongoing changes put Indigenous voices in the lead and establish a new direction as the Museum develops a fundraising plan for a more comprehensive gallery reinstallation and conducts searches to fill critical positions.
ROM’s commitment to working collaboratively with members of Indigenous communities fits within a larger effort to acknowledge its colonial history and become a vital community focal point where people of all cultures feel a sense of belonging.
Reporting to the Co-Chief Curator, Art and Culture, the position will lead a collaborative approach to stewarding ROM’s Canadian Indigenous Art and Culture collection, creating exhibitions and presenting programs with Indigenous communities and for broad audiences. The newly created position will be a key voice in re-thinking colonial patterns of practice and centering Indigenous perspectives and will interpret ROM’s Canadian Indigenous Art and Culture collection in collaboration with communities through inclusive, transdisciplinary thinking, digital practices, and innovation. The Hatch Curator of Indigenous Art and Cultures (Curator) will lead the repatriation of Indigenous ancestral belongings through deep engagement with relevant communities, in close partnership with the Vettoretto Curator of North American Archaeology. The Curator will collaborate with ROM’s Learning Department and Indigenous Museum Educators to develop Indigenous-centred educational and outreach programming, including supporting the Ontario curriculum in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies. The Curator will champion cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary perspectives to highlight the relevance of ROM’s collection of art, culture, and nature in contemporary societies, and have ambitions for a flourishing relationship between ROM and Indigenous communities.
Roles and Responsibilities
Collections, Research, and Exhibitions
- Lead the repatriation of Indigenous ancestral belongings through deep engagement with relevant communities, in close partnership with the Vettoretto Curator of North American Archaeology, responding to developments in the field and community expectations, and establishing staff repatriation strategies and priorities.
- Establish and lead a vision for the Indigenous belonging collection at the ROM and develop a 10-year collection care and learning plan, in alignment with ROM’s mission, vision, values, and strategic plan, and in integration with ROM’s full collection.
- Steward the Indigenous belonging collection, through research, communication, rotation and display, care and record-keeping, provenance study, digitization, and publication.
- Interpret and care the Indigenous belonging collection in new directions and through active community engagement and scholarly endeavor.
- Develop original, scholarly research and publications relating to ROM collections, exhibitions, and related topics.
- Conduct and facilitate research and visitation on the Indigenous belonging collection by visiting scholars, community leaders and researchers, and Indigenous representatives.
Exhibition and Gallery Development
- Collaborate with community stakeholders, curatorial colleagues, and interpretive staff to generate innovative visitor-centric and transdisciplinary gallery and exhibition projects.
- Participate in Master Gallery Interpretative Planning (MGIP), and work with ROM exhibition staff to continue re-development of ROM’s Daphne Cockwell Gallery Dedicated to First Peoples Art and Culture.
- Oversee content development for gallery interventions, rotations, programs, and special exhibitions in Indigenous art and culture, and contribute to larger cross-institutional and transdisciplinary exhibition and gallery projects.
Public Programs and Community Engagement
- Work collaboratively with Indigenous Museum Educators and engagement staff to initiate on-site and virtual programs and school curriculum related to Indigenous heritage.
- Provide lectures, tours, and workshops to the general public, volunteers, professional colleagues, and museum supporters.
- Cultivate support for exhibitions, galleries, programs, symposia, acquisitions, research grants, and fellowships through association with professional organizations, foundations, collectors, and donors.
- Maintain professional affiliations in scholarly and museum curatorial organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.
- Embrace other collections, research, exhibition, gallery development, public program and community engagement duties as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Hatch Curator of Indigenous Art and Cultures will be receptive to and will effectively communicate innovative ideas, methods, and opportunities in honouring the past while framing relevant contemporary societal issues. They will seek to learn and acquire new knowledge and will bring an understanding of people, values, and systems to ROM, demonstrated through a respect for differences, a deep understanding of appreciative inquiry, and an ability to build consensus across difference. An enthusiastic and persuasive team member, they will develop strong relationships with colleagues, supervisors, Indigenous communities, exhibition partners, and many other stakeholders who impact, and are impacted by ROM programs.
Other key competencies include:
- Diplomacy – The ability to effectively and tactfully handle difficult or sensitive issues, taking numerous perspectives into account, and advancing productive conversations. ROM’s work intersects with many social and cultural initiatives (Truth and Reconciliation, Repatriation, among others) that can engender trauma and challenging conversation with internal and external stakeholders. Diplomacy in all communications is needed to ensure safety and belongingness across the ROM community.
- Influencing Others and Interpersonal Skills – The dexterity to effectively communicate and personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking while building rapport and relating well to various stakeholders. All ROM initiatives are a group effort; thus advocating for one’s professional recommendations and expertise is always part of building respectful relationships across the institution.
- Resiliency – The capacity to quickly recover from challenging or adverse situations, learn, grow, and evolve in contemporary society. The art of working across a large organization engaged in dynamic work in the museum sector to guide collaboration with diverse individuals and groups of stakeholders. Embracing positive momentum while maintaining institutional objectives to drive organizational and sectoral evolution.
- Teamwork and Personal Accountability – The ability to cooperate with others to meet objectives while being answerable for personal actions. ROM is a collaborative environment where individuals must work across departments with their counterparts and be responsible for advancing a variety of initiatives.
- Time and Project Management – The acuity to prioritize and complete tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within planned budgets and time frames. Being adept at working on multiple projects simultaneously and demonstrating a long-term commitment to delivering results on time and within available resources.
The successful candidate will have advanced studies in Indigenous art history or a closely related field. Professional experience in a cultural center, museum, or related environment is an asset, as is a research and publication record specialization in some aspect of Indigenous art and cultures A deep understanding, education, and/or practical experience in understanding of the complexities and societal pressures involved in collections and exhibitions is required. It is required that the successful candidate have an excellent command of both spoken and written English and a working knowledge of an Indigenous language is an asset. Qualified applicants may have lived experience of the culture, language, and lifeways of an Indigenous community that bring new perspectives to the position and to ROM.
The Hatch Curator of Indigenous Art and Cultures search is part of an Indigenous Cohort Hiring initiative that seeks to demonstrate ROM’s commitment to having Indigenous staff throughout the organization whenever possible and to ensuring that Indigenous employees find a welcoming environment and a supportive community.
Compensation and Benefits
ROM offers a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package, including a base salary estimated to be in a range between $87,664 and $146,234 (CAN), dependent on experience, with full medical and dental insurance, a total of 22 days of pro-rated paid time off, and inclusion in the ROM pension plan (via CAAT). This position is part of the ROM Curatorial Association union.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:
Menon Dwarka, Senior Vice President
Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Senior Vice President
2 Toronto Street, Suite 217
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2B5
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 206 (Mr. Dwarka) or Ext. 225 (Ms. Lynch-McWhite)
Royal Ontario Museum acknowledges that this museum sits on the ancestral lands of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Anishinaabek Nation, which includes the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, since time immemorial to today.
ROM is committed to fair and accessible employment practices and considers equity, diversity, and inclusivity to be foundational to its institutional success. ROM seeks to foster a workplace that reflects the full breadth of the communities it serves 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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