Senior Director, Curatorial & Collections: Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum

POSITION:                                    Senior Director, Curatorial & Collections

CLIENT:                                           Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum
University of California Davis

LOCATION:                                   Davis, CA


The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Museum at UC Davis seeks a Senior Director, Curatorial & Collections who will be inspired by the creative and educational potential of connecting contemporary art across diverse fields of study. The Senior Director will report to the Founding Director and join an energetic team in defining the purpose, mission and impact of a new museum at a top-ten public research university, which is also the repository of an important art historical legacy.  She/he will complete the Museum’s founding leadership team and will recruit the Curatorial & Collections departments. The Senior Director will work closely with the leadership boards of the Museum. The new Museum is anticipated to open 2016-17.


During the 1960s UC Davis established a fledging Department of Art that drew a diverse faculty including artists such as Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud and William Wiley, creating a unique experimental environment. The UC Davis Department of Art is now recognized as the progenitor of a generation of artists of national prominence including Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield and Nancy Rubins.

In 1967, in the introduction to UC Davis’s first master’s exhibition, Roy De Forest wrote: “In a time of social disruption, scientific rationalization, and political instability, the creation of art is an act of dangerous faith.” The Manetti Shrem Museum takes this prescient statement as a mandate and a starting point. As such,   it is a contemporary art museum that defines itself anew through its relationship to art history and the life of the university.

The Fine Arts Collection at UC Davis contains more than 5,000 objects. It is encyclopedic in scope, including notable holdings of antiquities, works on paper and ceramics central to the history of UC Davis. As the new Museum is being constructed, there is a concurrent community-wide effort to grow and strengthen the depth of the Fine Arts Collection.


The innovative “Grand Canopy” design for the new Shrem Museum is being realized by the design-build team of Whiting-Turner, a national construction company, teamed with two recognized architectural firms, SO – IL from Brooklyn, New York and the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.


The Senior Director will contribute to making the Manetti Shrem Museum a dynamic site for an artistic program that crosses time periods and cultures and investigates issues of broad contemporary relevance.

The ideal candidate brings expertise in contemporary art with a diverse perspective and the demonstrated ability to work beyond their area of specialization to support the Museum’s inclusive artistic program. The Senior Director will be committed to collaborative praxis and will develop and implement interdisciplinary projects. The Senior Director will demonstrate a progressive vision for curatorial and collections activities in keeping with the innovative and irreverent history of the University.

The Senior Director represents the Museum locally at UC Davis and to national and international audiences.


Artistic Program

Working closely with the Museum’s senior leadership team, the Senior Director oversees the process of proposing, conceiving and implementing original exhibition and event projects that build upon UC Davis’s historic strengths and the Museum’s vision for the future. She/he is responsible for all aspects of research, planning, budgeting, organizing, and implementation of exhibitions and events, including projects proposed by guest curators and borrowed from other institutions. The Senior Director will champion exhibitions and projects across contemporary practices from painting and installation to multimedia and new genres.

Participant Engagement

The Senior Director actively partners with the Director of Participant Experience to create a dynamic educational program that is integral to curatorial exhibitions and events. In addition, the Senior Director is an institutional ambassador who regularly lectures, attends university programs, and contributes to the Museum’s communications strategies. She/he will also oversee the creation of the department’s printed material.

Supervise the Curatorial & Collections Department/ Collection Building & Fundraising

A primary responsibility of the Senior Director is to oversee management and growth of the Museum’s collections. She/he will help to develop a vision for the collection and identify strengths and weaknesses. The Senior Director will define an acquisitions wish list and solicit acquisitions through gifts and purchase.

The Senior Director will work with the Senior Director of Development and other campus resources to develop and cultivate relationship with donors and collectors as well as raise funds for exhibitions and acquisitions.

Overseeing the Registrar/Collections Manager, the Senior Director is responsible for research, documentation and collection development, and an annual plan that attends to the needs of the collection.

The Senior Director will lead the Museum’s Curatorial and Collections team, and will oversee the recruitment of departmental positions

Museum Board and Collections Committee

The Senior Director participates in many Museum board activities and leads the Collections Committee, which has oversight over the Fine Arts Collection and the university’s public art program.


This position includes the opportunity to teach courses on occasion, but does not require a minimum commitment to teaching.


  • MA in art history, studio practice, or equivalent education and experience.
  • Expertise in the field of contemporary art with skills to work beyond area of specialization to support the Museum’s inclusive artistic program.
  • Five years management experience in a museum or non-profit venue and curatorial experience at the same, or as an independent curator with implemented projects.
  • Track record of significant, academically rigorous and compelling exhibitions and publications.
  • Acquaintance with and enthusiasm for all areas of visual arts education.
  • Experience providing effective vision and strategic direction to curatorial and collections department staff and supporters.
  • Facility with public presentation and convening diverse public groups.
  • Demonstrated experience managing substantial department, project, and program budgets.
  • Experience using managerial and leadership skills to lead by example and encourage collaborative efforts.
  • Writing skills to prepare a variety of correspondence, reports, policies/procedures, informational documents, position descriptions, training manuals, and performance evaluations.
  • Strategic planning and analytical experience.


  • PhD in art history, studio practice, or related field.
  • Experience working in a higher education environment.


The town of Davis is the largest city in Yolo County in Northern California, 11 miles west of the state capital of Sacramento and 70 miles northeast of San Francisco. The population is over 65,000, not counting the 5,000 residential students at UC Davis. UC Davis is the largest campus in the University of California system and most of its 32,000 students live off site in the town of Davis. The greater Sacramento area of which Davis is a part has a population of over 2,000,000.

More information about the Manetti Shrem Museum is available on its website:

 Send applications, inquiries and recommendations
in confidence to (e-mails are preferred):

Freda Mindlin or Nancy Kaufman

Opportunity Resources Inc.

New York, NY

(212) 744-4409

University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

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