Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Research and Scholarly Engagement – Lunder Institute for American Art, Colby College

Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby’s rigorous academic program is rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Independent and collaborative research, study abroad, and internships offer robust opportunities to prepare students for postgraduate success. Colby is home to a community of 2,000 dedicated and diverse students from around the globe. Its Maine location provides easy access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.

In a period of fast-paced progress, Colby is building on its strong foundation while remaining committed to excellence, to supporting students and faculty at the highest levels, and to the College’s deep liberal arts traditions. This new chapter includes the creation of innovative academic initiatives and partnerships, strengthening the connections between the liberal arts and the professional world, revitalizing downtown Waterville, and pursuing significant capital projects for performing arts and athletics. Colby invites applicants to apply for the position of:


The Colby College Museum of Art is a collecting and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, display, and interpretation of the visual arts. We embrace within our collections works of art from diverse cultures and historical periods, with a focus on American art, and commitment to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. We manage these resources for the benefit of the Colby College community, the region, and the nation, and we aspire to display works that embody the highest standards of achievement.


Founded as part of the Colby College Museum of Art in 2017, the Lunder Institute for American Art stimulates cross-disciplinary collaboration in the field of American art among a diversity of artists, scholars, faculty, students, and community members through fellowships, workshops, convenings, mentorship, and programs. Based at the Colby College Arts Collaborative in downtown Waterville, Maine, and guided by a commitment to equity and racial justice, the Institute acts as an incubator for the field at a national level, investigating and producing new understanding about American art, past and present, and its relationship to the crucial questions of our time.


Working to advance equity and inclusion in the field of American art—and, by doing so, in the wider world—is core to our mission. The Colby Museum and its Lunder Institute feel the urgency of national and campus conversations on inequality and are keenly aware of the unique responsibility that we have as an academic art museum—as a place where we can listen, ask questions, and challenge assumptions—to engage in this dialogue, and to act. We affirm the Colby Museum of Art’s commitment to multidisciplinary teaching and learning. We also believe that our collection lies at the heart of deep engagement with students and the broader public alike, and that there is great potential to leverage it toward fighting racialized violence, injustice, and inequality. We recognize the challenges that face recent doctoral graduates when they seek to enter the museum and cultural field. This is especially true for those who come from situations of social or economic challenge, or who belong to groups that have been historically marginalized from museums. As a result, we encourage inquiries from candidates from these backgrounds, who may contribute diverse perspectives to our College and who can challenge the museum and our audiences in thinking in more expansive and complex ways about the meaning and value of works of art for the benefit of students, faculty and visitors.


The Mellon postdoctoral fellow for research and scholarly engagement will strengthen the educational, scholarly, and creative impact of the Colby Museum and its Lunder Institute for American Art by serving as a vital link between the Institute, the museum’s collection, the College, and our broader audiences. Specifically, they will manage and carry out the first phase of a comprehensive collections assessment in order to support academic and public engagement, and help the museum create a collections development plan. The fellow will help identify strengths and gaps as well as artworks or areas that can benefit from narrative development, contextualization, and re-interpretation.

The position will report to the Institute’s director. The fellow will be mentored and guided in collections research by the Lunder chief curator and a cross-museum group of staff, including collections and academic engagement colleagues. The fellow will engage faculty, students, and staff across the museum and other stakeholders, as appropriate, in the process of assessing the collection and identifying new approaches to interpretation and storytelling, with a priority focus on American art–the collection’s core strength. This collaborative research approach will enable the museum and its Lunder Institute to expand the narrative and conceptual borders of the field of American art and to concretely identify opportunities for curricular engagement and increased access.

This is a one year, grant-funded position with the possibility of renewal, as Colby Museum Postdoctoral Fellow for Research and Scholarly Engagement, for up to one additional year. As noted above, we welcome candidates from situations of social or economic challenge, or who belong to groups that have been historically marginalized from museums, who may contribute diverse perspectives to our College and who can challenge the museum and our audiences in thinking in more expansive and complex ways about the meaning and value of works of art for the benefit of students, faculty and visitors.


  • Facilitate project management of a comprehensive collections assessment, bringing an equity and racial justice lens to the process
  • Complete a comprehensive inventory of the full collection, with attention to Colby’s significant American holdings, noting artworks that fall outside of this scope as well as those with records that are incomplete or provisional; address those data gaps as is possible
  • In collaboration with curators and under the guidance from the Lunder Chief Curator, develop the checklist for a display from the collection to be presented in Fall 2022, and participate in meetings related to the project
  • Gather various sources of quantitative data regarding use, audience, display, loans to answer core research questions to identify opportunities and assess relevance
  • Analyze which artworks have been photographed and digitized for public online viewing, and identify trends and gaps; provide recommendations for prioritizing additions of photography to the collection database moving forward, to facilitate curricular use, scholarly engagement, and public access
  • With the curators’ guidance and with input from faculty across campus and museum colleagues in Academic, Education, and Public Engagement, use research questions to identify constellations of artist networks and of artworks that can benefit from contextualization, connection, and narrative development
  • Plan select workshops to both deepen and expand museum practices related to inclusive and anti-racist collection interpretation
  • Develop and present reports, sharing results with key stakeholders and when appropriate, within the museum field to be in dialogue with and to further comparable work
  • With the curators, revise overview text about the collection and its history to be included in a new collection management plan for museum re-accreditation
  • Contribute and take part in activities in the field of art and museums, staying abreast of new thinking and sharing knowledge, questions, and approaches
  • Perform additional duties as assigned; duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice


  • Ph.D. in Art History or a related field within the last five years
  • Research interests related to American art and/or Indigenous and diasporic studies with an additional broad subject knowledge across art history preferred
  • One to three years of experience working in a museum or research setting with progressively greater responsibility for managing complex projects
  • Demonstrated track-record of collaboration, ideally spanning various professional and scholarly fields and a related commitment to teaching and learning across disciplines
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, including relationship skills, and the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Strong critical thinking and creative approach to problem solving
  • Excellent organizational skills, time management, and attention to detail
  • Genuine interest in engaging undergraduate students as well as scholars, curators, and artists
  • Strong, self-motivated work ethic; flexibility; and proven ability to work both independently and collaboratively and constructively as a member of a diverse community
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office software, Google applications; familiarity with digital cloud collaboration platforms preferred
  • Deep appreciation for the value of art museums and of a liberal arts education
  • Ability to assess and act on opportunities to increase the narrative complexity and diversity of the collections and programs and advance equity in our daily practices and work culture
  • Unwavering commitment to fostering an anti-racist, equitable work environment supportive of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and life paths


This position will work closely with the Lunder Institute director, manager of operations, and manager of programs and, at the Colby Museum, the Linde Family Foundation curator of academic engagement and the Katz curator of modern and contemporary art as well as with other museum curatorial and education staff members and with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Institute guests.


General open office and campus environment. Position involves sitting, although frequent movement is necessary. Computer usage involving repetitive hand/wrist motion is also necessary. Some weekend, evening hours required


Interested candidates should apply electronically by clicking the “Apply” button on the Colby Careers website. Please submit a letter of interest including salary requirements, resume, and the contact information of three professional references. Materials should be addressed to:

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow – Search Committee
Office of Human Resources
Colby College
5500 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, ME  04901-8855

A review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

Colby is a private, coeducational liberal arts college that admits students and makes employment decisions on the basis of the individual’s qualifications to contribute to Colby’s educational objectives and institutional needs. Colby College does not discriminate in its educational programs or employment on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, or military or veteran’s status. Colby is an equal opportunity employer and operates in accordance with federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination. Colby complies with Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in an institution’s education programs and activities. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to Colby’s Title IX coordinator or to the federal Office of Civil Rights. We encourage inquiries from candidates who will contribute to the diversity of our College, including its cultural and ethnic diversity.

For more information about the College, please visit our website:

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