Current Opportunities

Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art


Job Title: Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Job Status: Full-Time, FLSA Exempt

Work Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Some evenings and weekends.

Job Summary:

The Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) seeks a versatile and visionary curator with deep experience in modern and contemporary art, issues, and practices to join our team. Reporting to the Director of Curatorial Affairs, the ideal candidate will bring an international network, a contagious sense of enthusiasm, and a proven record of success driving dynamic and robust curatorial initiatives at a museum(s) of comparable quality, size, and caliber to HoMA. They should be able to demonstrate success by offering examples of museum initiatives that bolstered civic engagement and expanded community awareness and understanding of contemporary art in their community. A familiarity with Hawaii's complex, multi-cultural history and knowledge of Pacific-Rim art and artists is essential.

HoMA’s Modern and Contemporary Collection area is comprised of 12,000 works, spanning a broad range of 20th and 21st century art and practices. Highlights from this collection include paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Helen Frankenthaler, Phillip Guston, Alice Neel, Richard Diebenkorn, and Francis Bacon, while sculptural highlights include three-dimensional or new-media works by Lee Bontecou, Jennifer Bartlett, Kara Walker, Robert Rauschenberg, Sam Gilliam, Donald Judd, Nick Cave, Nam June Paik, Jennifer Steinkamp, Yun-Fei Ji, and Edgar Heap of Birds among others. A cornerstone of the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art’s duties will include the care, research, interpretation, and expansion of the museum’s permanent collection. They will serve as a creative collaborator across the organization, including with the Museum’s Director and the Director of Curatorial Affairs, to introduce artist-centric methodologies and non-traditional approaches that align with newer developments in the museum field at large.

Working collegially with curators of Pan-Asian, Hawaiian, European and American Art—as well as with specialists in textiles, works on paper, contemporary craft, film, and performance—the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art will set curatorial standards of the highest level and help further expand permanent collection holdings with an eye toward diverse, provocative, awe-inspiring, and immersive works that draw connections to our time and place, as well as to historic works from our deep collection of Global art. The successful candidate should also exhibit strengths in art historical methodologies, research, written and verbal communications, community outreach, audience engagement, editing, and collection interpretation and care, particularly in the areas of American and international art of mid-twentieth century art to the present day. This curator will also assist colleagues in the Advancement Department in securing grants and funding sources for exhibitions, acquisitions, conservation projects, and other curatorial initiatives as needed, and will supervise the work of support staff, interns, research fellows, and the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art to ensure the highest professional standards. Like all curators, they will help us build and maintain relationships across the museum and community with artists, members, donors, new audiences, and art professionals.

Another route to expanding public engagement with—and understanding of—modern and contemporary art in our community will include working with colleagues in the Learning and Engagement Department on initiating and serving as the curatorial and artists installation lead on HoMA’s Visiting Artist Program. A new public platform for artists of international renown, this initiative seeks to pair artists interested in developing career-enhancing museum projects for and in consultation with the local artists community. The Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art will ideate, plan, and host artist-led projects and conversations as part of this initiative that includes hands-on demonstrations, panel discussions, residencies with open studios, live performances, and collaborative installations in the museum or at select sites across Hawai’i. By attracting iconic living artists to Honolulu for exhibitions and programs, this curatorial thought-leader will further the museum’s engagement with celebrated contemporary luminaries and stimulate high-level exchange between artists from around the world and local artists in furtherance of Honolulu’s rising profile in the arts sector.

As a host, community ambassador, and content provider, the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art must be proficient in leading projects and discussions that are both intellectually rigorous and accessible. They will write for general museum audiences in dynamic ways that expand art interpretation and discussions beyond traditional art historical narratives and prioritize more insightful and inclusive perspectives. A demonstrated commitment to cultivating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion by amplifying the voices of women, LGBTQ artists, and artists of color within and outside our community is essential, as is an understanding and appreciation of Hawai’i’s complex, multi-ethnic history.

Working closely in consultation with Learning and Engagement colleagues, the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art will also work to gain constructive feedback and diverse perspectives from Hawai‘i’s various cultural communities to increase the relevancy of special exhibitions, permanent collection installations, programs, and overall interpretive capacity at the museum. They will also be expected to keep abreast of current art market and museum-field trends, widen HoMA’s artistic and museum-field networks, and help ensure efficacy and creative collaboration within the department. We seek a creative, responsible, and collegial candidate who can gracefully balance multiple projects simultaneously. This candidate will be able to think creatively and work respectfully with and for the many diverse communities that we serve, in alignment with HoMA’s key initiatives and strategic objectives.

About HoMA, the Honolulu Museum of Art:

Opened in 1927, the Honolulu Museum of Art is a home for art and education created for the benefit of the entire community. Originally established as the Honolulu Academy of Arts, founder Anna Rice Cooke envisioned a museum that would bring people together through the power of art and “the deep intuitions that are common to all.” The museum was conceived of as a place of meaningful exchange and dialogue, celebrating the diverse artistic and cultural traditions of Hawai‘i’s multi-ethnic population. From this founding intention grew the museum of today, with a world-class encyclopedic collection of more than 55,000 works of art, representing a stunning breadth of places and eras, from all corners of the globe and from the ancient past to the present day. Over the decades, the museum has become known for its strong tradition of art classes and community engagement, both inside the walls of the museum and beyond. In 2011 the Honolulu Academy of Arts merged with the dynamic and vibrant Contemporary Museum, reinvigorating the museum’s contemporary holdings, and ushering in an opportunity for renewed commitment to the art of our time. The Honolulu Museum of Art was born.

With a dynamic global art collection and a dedication to innovative exhibitions and engagement with contemporary artists, HoMA strives to create a broad range of meaningful art experiences that are inclusive and accessible. Over the past century, the museum’s permanent collection has grown from 500 works to more than 55,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years. The museum has one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States, including an unrivaled collection by artists of Hawai‘i. The collection also contains significant holdings in European and American paintings, contemporary art, sculptures, and decorative arts; 19th- and 20th-century art; an extensive collection of works on paper and photography, textiles, decorative arts; and traditional works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Other highlights include the Samuel H. Kress Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, the James A. Michener Collection of Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and contemporary art.

Education has been an integral part of HoMA since its founding, and the Learning & Engagement Department supports the museum vision by advancing knowledge and fostering a thirst for creative thought, agency, and artistic excellence. Programs, which range from classes and lectures to tours and workshops, are designed to inspire and spark wonder in people of all ages and skill levels. Through Learning & Engagement initiatives, HoMA strives to instill a love and appreciation for art in children at an early age, promote a culture of lifelong learning, and foster artistic excellence and support a healthy arts ecosystem in Hawaiʻi.

As HoMA approaches its centennial in 2027, it is poised to embark on a new chapter guided by a renewed vision and Strategic Plan that focuses on HoMA’s core purpose: to be a home for art and education that exists for the benefit of the entire community, presented in a setting that prioritizes beauty, harmony, and promotes learning, self-awareness, and connection. With acknowledgment of HoMA’s history and purpose at the forefront, the Strategic Plan charts a course for HoMA’s next chapter in a rapidly changing world. It will transform HoMA into a relevant and sustainable 21st century museum where people of all ages and from all walks of life will be welcome, reinforcing HoMA’s ability to bring the art of the world to Hawaiʻi and the art of Hawaiʻi to the world.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A graduate degree in modern or contemporary art history, museum or curatorial studies, or a related field of academic study, and at least five years of related experience and skills in a museum environment or nonprofit organization.
  • Must demonstrate broad knowledge of applied professional museum principles, practices, and procedures.
  • Five years of curatorial experience managing substantial exhibition projects and support staff in a museum of comparable size and caliber to HoMA.
  • Experience working successfully with lenders, supporters, and donors.
  • Must have the ability to communicate and listen effectively with a diverse population of service users, with demonstrated success in multiple locations and work environment. 
  • Established positive working relationships with artists and professional counterparts, collectors, and donors.
  • A respected profile in the national/international art community and a demonstrated history of managing successful projects or exhibitions and programs focusing on national or international contemporary art.

Desired Qualifications:

  • PhD in art history, museum studies, or the equivalent preferred.
  • Broad working knowledge of art history, as well as familiarity and eagerness to work with contemporary artists and practices.
  • Seven years of curatorial experience managing substantial exhibition projects and support staff in a museum of comparable size and caliber to HoMA.
  • Understanding of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s established identity and dedication to advancing it.
  • Familiarity with Hawaiian culture and history.
  • Ability to successfully manage and lead people, including artists, interns, research associates, and fellow curators.
  • Intelligent self-starter who is committed to the museum’s mission and the community’s embrace of collaborative art projects. 
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively with a driven, bright, diverse team, as well as coach a top-notch work, research, and volunteer force.
  • The traits of honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, curiosity, and perspective; a strong work ethic, supported by commitment and follow-through.

Core Competencies:

  • Adaptability
  • Business and Aesthetic Acumen
  • Change Management
  • Effective Communicator
  • Cost Consciousness
  • Initiative and Judgment
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Professionalism
  • Problem Solver
  • Technology Savvy
  • Creativity
  • Curatorial Leadership

Essential Duties:

  • Conceives of and administers energetic and bold strategies for connecting established, international visiting artists with local creatives and arts professionals, thereby expanding exposure, practices, methods, and connections locally.
  • Ideates, plans, and hosts artist-led projects that include hands-on demonstrations, panel discussions, residencies with open studios, live performances, and installations in the museum or at select sites across Hawaiʻi.
  • Expands public engagement with contemporary art
  • Presents high-quality art installations and nontraditional approaches to curating, cultural programming, and art making.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to cultivating and persevering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion by amplifying the voices of women, LGBTQ artists, and artists of color within and outside of the community.
  • Researches, expands, refines, and interprets HoMA’s contemporary collection and communicates that knowledge in fun, relevant ways that appeal to professional artists, art specialists, and members of the public.
  • Serves as a partner and mentor to the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, researchers, and interns. 
  • Displays curatorial leadership by modelling the highest level of curatorial standards.
  • Strengthens team dynamics, efficiency, creative collaboration, and permanent collection activation.
  • Stimulates and leads artistic exchanges and dialogues around provocative and pressing cultural issues of our time and place with artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds.
  • Collaboratively conceives and directs cross-collection reinstallations and contemporary interventions of the permanent collection.
  • Serves as curator-in-charge and content lead in the area of modern and contemporary art practices. Provides clear, compelling research and written content in this area and other cultural areas as needed.
  • Recommends acquisitions, deaccessions, and conservation/framing projects.  
  • Works with Learning and Engagement colleagues to use evaluation tools for ongoing assessment and refinement of interpretive strategies and audience engagement.
  • Works collaboratively with colleagues in the Advancement Department in the cultivation of donors, particularly in the areas of mid-20th century art; assists with general fundraising activities, and grant prospects to benefit acquisitions, conservation, exhibitions and related publications, and other curatorial initiatives. 
  • Positively represents HoMA’s curatorial interests locally, nationally, and internationally through private events, community collaborations, artist-led programs, and public lectures.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion through respectful communication and cooperation with others at all times, continuous training, and modeling inclusive behaviors.
  • In partnership with HR, supports the leadership team in ensuring equitable experiences, strengthening inclusion acumen, and promoting a culture of inclusivity and belonging that embraces the contributions of all staff.
  • Other duties as requested.

Traits and Characteristics:

Traits consistent with HoMA’s values, which include honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, perspective, a strong work ethic, supported by commitment and resolve.

Work Conditions and Atmosphere:

The Modern and Contemporary Curator works with minimum supervision. Work will often be performed with short deadlines and situations sensitive to the Museum. Regular office hours are required. Due to the nature of the responsibilities, evening and weekend work is sometimes required, and at times may be on an emergency basis.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusivity:

HoMA welcomes people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and this is reflected in our diverse community of employees. We encourage applications from candidates across a wide variety of backgrounds, including, but not limited to, people of all races and ethnicities, people with disabilities, women, veterans, and all members of the LGBTQ community. 

Equal Employment Opportunity:

HoMA is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants. HoMA recruits, hires, trains, promotes, compensates, and administers all personnel actions and benefit programs without regard to race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, including pregnancy and gender identity and expression, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, reproductive health decisions, marital status, arrest and court record, citizenship, credit history, military and veteran service, victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse victim status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

The statements contained herein describe the scope of the responsibilities and essential functions of this position but should not be considered to be an all-inclusive listing of work duties and requirements. Individuals may perform other duties as assigned including work in other areas to cover absences or relief to equalize peak work periods or otherwise balance the workload.

HoMA maintains a policy of nondiscrimination in all employment practices and decisions, ensuring equal employment opportunities for all qualified individuals. This applies to both HoMA employees and applicants for employment with the Museum. Any form of harassment of any employee because of any protected status is also prohibited.

Salary Range: 
Commensurate with Experience

About This Job

  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Category: Professional
  • Salary Range: Commensurate with Experience
  • Posted: June 15, 2022