Director of Curatorial Affairs
Position: Director of Curatorial Affairs, Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA
Reports to: Executive Director and CEO
Date Written: 1/3/2024
Job Classification: Full-time, exempt
Job Summary and Key Objectives:
The Director of Curatorial Affairs is a member of the Museum's senior management team and oversees all curatorial aspects of the Museum at all three Telfair sites, including collections, internally developed, and external/traveling exhibitions. Partnering closely with the Executive Director/CEO and working collaboratively with the senior management team, the Director of Curatorial Affairs is responsible for formulating a cohesive, creative vision for the Museum's year-round schedule of exhibitions that will allow it to achieve the Museum's mission and the specific goals articulated in Telfair's strategic plan. Responsibilities include integrated long-range planning of exhibitions and collections, direction, management, and mentorship of the curatorial staff and the traveling exhibition program. The Director of Curatorial Affairs also works closely with other department heads on museum-wide initiatives and planning, including assisting with developing fundraising strategies, strategic marketing plans, and programming associated with both temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection.
Key Responsibilities and Tasks
● Lead the curatorial and collections staff, working closely with senior leadership to attract, develop, and retain talent. Current direct reports include the Chief Registrar, Curator of Decorative Arts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Assistant Curator, and any curatorial interns.
● In partnership with the Executive Director/CEO and senior management, and working closely with the Curatorial team, craft an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions and permanent collection displays for the Museum's three sites that build upon Telfair's historic strengths and achieve the Museum's vision for the future. Provide leadership and oversight for all exhibitions, including overseeing the process of proposing, conceiving, scheduling, implementing, and evaluating exhibitions, including developing exhibition and overall annual departmental budgets.
● 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 serving as a mentor to staff; rewarding and disciplining employees; timely addressing complaints and resolving problems; ultimately culminating in developing a positive and dynamic team environment within the Curatorial Department.
● Foster collaborative, interdepartmental relationships with open communications with the goal of creating an integrated institutional approach to the planning of exhibitions, collections development, interpretation, and programming.
● Oversee and implement the Scope of Collections and Collections Plan, managing and growing the collection in accordance with the priorities established in the Plan. Create and prioritize a list of acquisition goals and propose acquisitions through gifts and purchases. Identify deaccession candidates and oversee the Chief Registrar's management of the deaccessioning process in accordance with the highest standards of ethical practice and with the Museum's Collections Management Policy.
● Work closely with the Development department to identify potential fundraising opportunities and, as needed, assist with securing contributions for individual projects and annual operating support; ensure that Curators provide the Development department with the necessary information for exhibition support proposals in a timely manner.
● Act as a liaison to the Gari Melchers Collectors' Society, a member engagement group focused on raising funds for the collection. Strengthen engagement with current members and solicit new members to meet the Museum's fundraising and collecting goals.
● 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.
● As needed, oversee Telfair's publishing program, including all publications related to the collections and exhibitions.
● Attend and participate in Board of Trustees meetings as needed.
● Represent Telfair at significant art industry events and professional conferences as needed.
● Perform a variety of administrative and other related duties as assigned.
Strong candidates for the Director of Curatorial Affairs of Telfair Museums will bring at least seven to ten years of progressively responsible curatorial and art museum management experience, as well as an MA in art history or relevant degree (PhD or equivalent experience preferred), supported by significant scholarship in the field, including exhibition development, publications, and acquisitions as well as proven experience in team development and oversight.
Qualified candidates will possess the following attributes and competencies:
● Ability to galvanize internal and external collaborators and partners around a creative vision for Telfair Museums' programming across all three sites.
● Big-picture thinker who can frame thinking across all three Telfair sites while also leading strategic implementation to accomplish goals as set forth in Telfair's Strategic Plan.
● Diplomatic relationship-builder who maintains strong departmental relations with trustees, collectors, donors, artists, the media, and the public.
● A collegial team player who leads with trust and mutual respect, the Director of Curatorial Affairs will embrace a culture of collaboration and "wearing many hats" alongside colleagues in the interest of institutional goals.
● An active listener who cultivates input from across all museum departments.
● An approachable leader and mentor who brings wisdom and a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork to the role, shines the light on others, and provides substantive opportunities for growth to team members.
● An Individual with high emotional intelligence who is comfortable guiding and mentoring others, working collaboratively with colleagues at all levels, and serving as a senior representative of the Museum at internal and external meetings, events, and public speaking opportunities.
● Possesses confidence without self-importance.
● Superior communicator and presenter who is effective with a range of audiences, including volunteers, staff, business and community leaders, the media, and the general public, whether impromptu or with prepared remarks.
● Excellent writer on a scholarly and academic level.
● Thoughtful and professional leader adept at creating a positive image for the Museum among supporters and the general public.
• 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.
• Must be able to move safely throughout the Telfair campus and lift 40 lbs.
SALARY AND BENEFITS:
• Telfair Museums offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits.
Please provide the following as part of your application:
• Complete resume and references, including salary expectations.
• A cover letter addressing both your interest in Telfair Museums and your qualifications for this position.
• Indicate "Director of Curatorial Affairs" in the email's subject line or in the cover letter's body.
• Applications in electronic format are preferred and accepted at email@example.com.
• Mail applications to Telfair Museums, Attn: HR, PO Box 10081, Savannah, GA 31412.
• Position open until filled.
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, 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 neo-classical style by English architect William Jay, 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. Recent additions to the collection include the 2023 Dr. Walter O. and Linda Evans Collection gift of 30 works of art by leading African American artists.
In 2023, the Museum launched its new five-year Strategic Plan titled Telfair for All! which includes major initiatives such as the opening of the new Children’s Art Museum, funding for major exhibitions and acquisitions, the creation of a Visitor Experience and Engagement Department with a new Gallery Host staff, the opening of the new Wildflower Café, housed in the Jepson Center, and the development of Telfair Square and the Telfair Campus, and more.
Telfair Museums' permanent collection of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, and decorative arts contains over 8,000 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 230,000 visitors each year.