Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator Job Description
Founded in 1978, Mingei International Museum collects, preserves and exhibits “art of the world, art of the people,” including folk art, craft and design from all eras and cultures. Located in San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park, this highly respected Museum offers stunning exhibitions and diverse educational programs to more than 100,000 visitors each year. The Museum is a nonprofit organization.
Mingei has a deep commitment to creating a space where people are inspired to see their own world through new eyes and, in turn, rediscover, embrace and nurture their own creativity. The Museum recently completed a comprehensive, $55M building renovation to fulfill this mission in meaningful new ways. The transformed Mingei is a place where all are welcome, where the community can gather and where individuals can rest and find creative inspiration — all in the heart of Balboa Park. To learn more, please visit: https://mingei.org/transformation.
At Mingei we strive to offer a memorable and meaningful experience to our audience, and this is only possible with the hard work and dedication of a passionate and creative team. Our commitment to equity, inclusion and accessibility is reflected in the work we do. As an organization that champions “art of the people,” our goal is for the Museum’s staff, board, volunteers and audience to fully represent diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and national origin. POSITION SUMMARY:
The Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator leads the central programming of the Museum, imagining, researching, developing, scheduling, carrying out and archiving robust and lively exhibitions and publications featuring folk art, craft and design from all eras and cultures centered – though not exclusively – on handmade objects of use. This person also leads the collection acquisition and deaccession process to build and refine the Collection, working with the Board of Trustees, specifically the Collections Committee. This person works closely with the Education and Marketing Departments to develop a substantial program of related public programs to enrich the exhibitions: including lectures, artist craftsman demonstrations, films, conferences and performances. This person has oversight of the exhibition galleries including layout, design and upkeep. Finally, this person leads ongoing research on objects in the collection.
As a member of the senior administrative staff, the Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator reports to the Museum's executive director and CEO and contributes to institution-wide vision, planning and policy, as well as the cultivation and stewardship of donors. They serve as the standard bearer for the Museum's scholarship and intellectual integrity.
In addition to being an innovative thinker, the ideal candidate will bring a degree of curiosity to the position and an eagerness to vet and pursue new ideas, initiate collaborations and cultivate partnerships with other museums and cultural and academic institutions, as well as foster a network of community advisors, historians, artist craftsmen and cultural experts.
REQUIREMENTS and DESIRED EXPERIENCE:
- Work collaboratively as a member of the 4-person senior leadership team; contribute to long-range strategic planning and daily organizational management.
- Oversee the development and execution of at least six exhibitions/installations per year.
- Plan, organize, budget and adhere to a 3-5-year exhibition program, including traveling exhibitions.
- Seek and engage insight, knowledge and expertise from representatives of cultures and communities represented in the Museum’s collections and exhibitions.
- Conceptualize and produce excellent interpretive materials for the exhibitions, including full-scale publications for some exhibitions in collaboration with other departments.
- Facilitate broadly interdepartmental exhibition planning and evaluation sessions.
- Ensure delivery of interpretive materials to staff and docents in a timely manner; act as a resource for the Education Department, the Library and docents, including conducting walkthroughs and speaking at meetings.
- Recruit, hire and supervise guest curators.
- Oversee the development, use and care of the Museum’s current collections (including Library and Archives) as well as materials on loan from other sources.
- Implement a collections assessment; identify gaps and opportunities to improve range and quality.
- Guide the composition and function of a new Collections Committee; act as ex-officio member and staff liaison.
- Collaborate with the Museum’s creative director in further defining and expressing the Museum’s design mission, including the development of programs and exhibitions as part of the annual San Diego Design Week.
- Manage and develop a current staff of nine, including the following departments: Exhibitions, Registration, Collections, and Library and Archives.
- Conduct annual performance reviews including professional development plans for direct reports.
- Develop departmental annual action plans in fulfillment of the Museum’s strategic plan.
- Participate in Museum activities including speaking at membership events and events that promote audience development.
- Maintain relationships with donors and collectors, assist in cultivation of new prospects.
- Attend Board meetings
- Travel when necessary for research and to further the Museum program.
- Conform to the code of ethics governing the museum profession, represent the Museum with a high level of integrity and professionalism, adhere to Museum policies and support management decisions in a positive, professional manner.
- Follow best museum practices set forth by AAM, AAMD and museum sector professional organizations
- Network with other museums and cultural and academic institutions to gather resource information and represent Mingei International publicly.
- Passion for and commitment to the Museum’s mission and goals.
- Proven commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion, with experience in developing content and expanding access to museum exhibitions for historically marginalized communities.
- Excellent public speaking skills/ Spanish-speaking ability a plus.
- MA or PhD in art history, museum studies or a related field required.
- Demonstrated expertise in at least one major area of the Museum’s Collection
- At least 5 years of experience at a Chief Curator/Director level
- Experienced researcher in folk art, craft and/or design, published, experience lecturing
- Demonstrated experience with employee management, long-term planning, budgets, time management and excellent written communications skills.
- Knowledge of selection, intrinsic and market value, conservation, and exhibition of works of art, and of the legal regulations governing collecting.
- Ability to assess priorities and work well under pressure; excellent project management, problem solving, and analytical skills.
- Ability to work with close attention to detail and to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information.
- Ability to work with the Board, donors, volunteers, the public, and co-workers professionally, empathetically and collaboratively.
This position is based in San Diego with most work performed in the office/on site at the Museum.
This is a full-time (37 ½ hours/week), exempt position paid at $125,000 per year. Benefits include paid medical, dental, and vision insurance for the employee, a 401k plan with a company donation plus match, and generous paid time off.
To learn more and apply, please visit our website: https://mingei.org/apply/chief-curator