|Date Posted:||February 18, 2021|
|Reports to:||Executive Director/CEO and Director of Curatorial Affairs/Chief Curator|
Scope of Position:
The Curator of Historical Collections and Programs is responsible for the display and interpretation of the museum’s collection of decorative arts at the museum’s three sites, as well as for curating and organizing temporary decorative arts exhibitions in accordance with the museum’s overall exhibitions strategy. The Curator of Historical Collections and Programs is specifically responsible for overseeing the historic interpretation strategy of the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters (OTHSQ) and Telfair Academy. The Curator of Historical Collections and Programs works closely with the Executive Director/CEO and Director of Curatorial Affairs/Chief Curator to develop a compelling forward-looking vision for the future of the Telfair Academy. The Curator of Historical Collections and Programs also sets strategic plans and budgets; designs, implements, and fundraises for exhibitions and special projects; conducts scholarly research, writes, and gives lectures on topics of expertise; and serves as a visible senior representative of the museum to external constituencies to enlist their ongoing support and partnership.
The Curator of Historical Collections and Programs will lead Telfair Museums’ Legacy of Slavery (LoS) program, including the Legacy of Slavery Symposium, and coordinate the planned publication with the University of Georgia Press.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Create and oversee a long-range strategy for the historic interpretation of the museum’s two historic sites that promotes excellence in preservation and interpretation, aligns with the museum’s overall strategic direction, raises the museum’s national profile, and drives attendance and earned income, in consultation with the Executive Director/CEO, Director of Curatorial Affairs/Chief Curator, Buildings Curator, and other staff.
- Continually update the historic interpretation of the museum’s historic sites, including conducting scholarly research on 18th- and 19th-century history, specifically on Telfair Academy’s and Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters’ former occupants, the founding of Telfair Academy, and related thematic subjects (e.g., architecture, decorative arts, American museum movement, and history of slavery in America antebellum and postbellum).
- Collaborate with the Education Department and consultants to develop tours, educational programming, and exhibitions that tell a complete and integrated social history of the historic sites.
- Produce scholarly articles and writings related to the museum’s history and decorative arts collections and seek opportunities to publish in relevant journals and publications.
- Oversee the display and interpretation of Telfair Museums’ permanent collection of decorative arts at all three sites.
- Create and develop interpretative materials, educational programs, and outreach activities related to the museum’s historic sites and decorative arts to increase audience understanding and appreciation.
- Propose, plan, curate, and oversee the successful implementation of temporary exhibitions of decorative art that meet the museum’s strategic goals, including curating exhibitions and coordinating traveling exhibitions from other museums.
- Create budgets and exhibition checklists, write exhibition wall text and labels, oversee the creation of exhibition-related publications, and collaborate closely with the Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Preparators on the installation of all decorative arts exhibitions.
- Present lectures and gallery talks to raise the museum’s profile in the local community and nationally.
- Identify potential acquisitions of decorative arts for the collection and cultivate relationships with art collectors to encourage gifts of art.
- Research and seek grants and donors by writing grant proposals and soliciting donors for funding, in collaboration with the Development Department.
- Write, review, and edit copy for press releases, newsletters, website, social media platforms, and other media.
- Organize tour rotation and ensure that the museum achieves maximum visitation within the boundaries of capacity as relates to state and local fire codes and safety ordinances, structural stability, and preservation of the historic sites.
- Create and develop in-depth scholarly research and writings concerning the individual enslaved inhabitants of the OTHSQ and their ancestry in association with the City of Savannah and other cultural partners.
- In collaboration with the museum’s Education Department, oversee the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System 8th-Grade “Slavery and Freedom: An Exploration of Antebellum Savannah through the Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters” partnership.
- Plan and oversee the activities of the Friends of the Owens-Thomas House (FOT), a membership group. Strengthen engagement with current FOT members and solicit new members to meet the museum’s fundraising goals.
- Analyze and incorporate visitor feedback received through comment forms, online visitor reviews, and social media to ensure high-quality content and service delivery of historical tours at OTHSQ and other historic sites. Monitor visitor activity to ensure compliance with museum policy.
- Special Project: Manage and deliver the Legacy of Slavery (LoS) program, including organizing and conducting the Legacy of Slavery Symposium and coordinating the planned publication with the University of Georgia Press.
- Act as a senior representative of the museum at internal and external meetings, events, and public speaking opportunities.
- Act with discretion and professionalism to create a positive image for the museum among supporters and the general public.
- Maintain good departmental relations with trustees, collectors, donors, artists, the media, and the public.
- Supervise Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, historical interpreters, and curatorial contract workers. Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance and conducting annual performance reviews of direct reports; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.
Skills and Attributes
- Superior communication and presentation skills.
- Superior writing skills on a scholarly and academic level.
- Able to work a flexible schedule including, evenings, weekends, and holidays.
- Able to present information on sensitive issues.
- Interest and experience in ongoing and in-depth study of 18th- and 19th-century American history and
African American culture.
- At least three to six years of progressively responsible curatorial and art museum management experience.
- An MA (or Ph.D.) in art history, material culture, history, American Studies, African American studies,
African Diaspora, archaeology, or museum studies.
- Ability to perform various functions such as standing, sitting, walking across uneven surfaces, climbing stairs, lifting, seeing in varying light conditions, and participating in some physical activities.
SALARY AND BENEFITS
- Telfair Museums offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits.
Please provide the following as part of your application
- Complete resume, references and including salary expectations.
- A cover letter addressing both your interest in Telfair Museums and your qualifications for this position.
- Indicate “Curator of Historical Collections and Programs” on the subject line of the email or in the body of the cover letter
- Applications in electronic format preferred, and accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mailed applications: Telfair Museums, Attn: HR, PO Box 10081, Savannah, GA 31412.
Telfair Museums offers compelling expressions of visual culture — embracing three unique buildings and three distinct collections that bridge three centuries of art and architecture. The museum develops awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and serves as a dynamic cultural center connecting people of all ages and backgrounds.
Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South, founded in 1883 through the bequest of prominent local philanthropist Mary Telfair, who left her home and its furnishings to the Georgia Historical Society to be opened as a museum. Today, Telfair Museums consists of three unique buildings: Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, two National Historic Landmark sites built in the early 19th century, and the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts.
Designed in the Regency style by English architect William Jay, the Telfair Academy houses 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts. Highlights include fine examples of American Impressionism and Ashcan School Realism, with major paintings by Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, Gari Melchers, Robert Henri, George Bellows, and George Luks. The Telfair Academy is also home to Sylvia Shaw Judson’s iconic Bird Girl statue, made famous in the Jack Leigh photograph on the dust jacket of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is considered one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in the country. In addition to the historic house museum and decorative art ranging from the late 18th to the early 19th century, the site includes rare intact urban slave quarters and a lovely parterre garden. The site underwent an award-winning reinterpretation in 2018, providing audiences with a broader understanding of how slavery impacted urban life in and beyond the home.
The Jepson Center, designed by acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, is devoted to temporary exhibitions and today’s art and home to the Telfair’s Kirk Varnedoe Collection, a cornerstone of the museum’s contemporary holdings. The collection features works on paper by some of the most pivotal artists of the past 50 years, including Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Richard Avedon. Other contemporary artists include Carrie Mae Weems, Helen Levitt, Sam Gilliam, James Brooks, and many notable Georgia artists.
Telfair Museums’ permanent collection of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, and decorative arts contains over 4,500 objects from America, Europe, and Asia, dating primarily from the 18th to 20th centuries. Telfair provides a range of educational initiatives, including youth and family programming, school tour programs, preplanned field trips for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools fourth and eighth graders, youth classes, and summer camps. Telfair offers adults a variety of virtual and onground classes and workshops, ranging from drawing and painting classes with established local artists to workshops related to current exhibitions and exhibition opening lectures. Telfair (www.telfair.org) welcomes approximately 225,000 visitors each year.