Current Opportunities

Curator

The Cahoon Museum of American Art, located on Cape Cod in Cotuit, Massachusetts, seeks a Curator to guide the museum’s interpretive framework, exhibition programming, and collections management as it enters an exciting time of revisioning and growth. Created forty years ago in the historic home and studio of renowned folk artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon, the museum today celebrates the variety and complexity of the American artform as it relates to the region.

The Cahoon Museum of American Art

The Cahoon Museum was established in 1984 and today is a dynamic cultural hub on Cape Cod dedicated to cultivating art from contemporary artists who connect with New England’s heritage and the wider story of American art. Open to the public between March and December, the museum presents a robust schedule of exhibitions, public programs, and events that enriches the lives of the Cape’s summer visitors and permanent residents alike.
The museum’s facilities include a historic building united with a modern addition and an adjacent historic property with two acres of gardens. The iconic Zenas Crocker House, built between 1775 and 1782, is a stately Georgian home that constitutes the original part of the museum. Between 2014 and 2015, the museum underwent a major renovation of its historic building and added a new wing, which doubled the exhibition space to more than 5,000 square feet.  The blending of old and new architecture accommodates the museum’s broad presentation of American art from the 1800s through today.
In 2022, the Cahoon Museum acquired the adjacent 1736 Ebenezer Crocker House and its two-acre property, embarking on an expansion that, when completed, will provide a campus for educational programs, new galleries for exhibits, space for events and gatherings of community groups, and a garden for reflection and renewal. 
The museum serves about 10,000 annual visitors. The 501(c)(3) organization has a budget of $1.2 million, collection of about 600 artworks, Board of eleven Trustees, and nine full- and part-time staff.

Ralph and Martha Cahoon

The Cahoon Museum of American Art celebrates the legacy of the prominent Cape Cod folk artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon. A permanent exhibition of their life and work is featured in the Zenas Crocker House, which the Cahoons purchased in 1945 and used for more than fifty years as their home and studio.
Married during the Great Depression, Ralph and Martha Cahoon started their artistic careers decorating furniture in the Swedish, Pennsylvania German, and American folk traditions. Eventually, both began to paint folk designs of their own invention. Ralph often gravitated to scenes with sailors and mermaids. Martha specialized in country scenes and such natural motifs as flowers, shells, and birds.
In the 1950s their work was “discovered” by wealthy art collectors who summered on Cape Cod, and their artistic careers took off with gallery exhibitions in Boston, New York, and across the U.S. Over time the Cahoons’ work was collected by such notables as Jacqueline Kennedy (who drove over to their studio from the Summer White House in Hyannis Port), Jean Kennedy Smith, Maxim Karolik, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Lily Pulitzer, Joan Fontaine, and several members of the Mellon and du Pont families.
Today their work continues to be in high demand with collectors and is recognized as significant in the evolution of the American folk-art tradition.
The Opportunity

The Curator at the Cahoon Museum of American Art will join an organization that is on an upward trajectory. The museum’s budget has grown from $350,000 to $1.2 million over the past decade, reflecting a vigorous expansion of exhibitions, programs, staffing, and fundraising capability. This expansion was accelerated with the recent purchase of an adjacent historic property, which will more than double the museum’s footprint and enable a new vision of its possibilities. An architectural master plan is currently underway for the new campus as well as a feasibility study for an associated capital campaign.

With this growth, the museum is seeking its first dedicated Curator to lead the organization’s artistic and interpretive vision, establish its curatorial “voice,” coordinate its exhibitions, and steward its collection. Reporting to and working alongside Executive Director Sarah Johnson, Ph.D., the Curator will serve in a senior-leadership role that assists with the formulation and implementation of strategic direction for the museum.

The museum is focusing on several initiatives that make this an outstanding time for the incoming Curator to offer an important contribution:

• Expand the museum campus and outdoor spaces to accommodate new programs and opportunities to showcase art.
• Uplift the work and legacy of Ralph and Martha Cahoon through the publication of a catalogue raisonné, biography, and online presence.
• Create a sustainable exhibition plan that reflects the museum’s ambitions and energy while optimizing collaborations with other institutions and collections.
• Develop standards and write an exhibition style guide.
• Undertake a collections management strategy and grant-funded archives assessment project.
• Make the museum more accessible to diverse audiences and inclusive of artists traditionally underrepresented in art museums.

Responsibilities and Expectations

The Curator will have administrative and budget responsibility for three principal areas: curatorial services, exhibition management, and collections management.
Curatorial
• In collaboration with the Executive Director, develop a curatorial strategy, interpretive framework, and “voice” for the museum.
• Conduct research on objects in the collections and exhibitions. Provide written interpretation for labels, exhibit text, publications, newsletters, social media, and related communications.
• Prepare and present talks and tours for museum stakeholders and visitors. Represent the museum at professional conferences and community events.
• Collaborate with staff to create and implement educational initiatives, public programming, and promotional materials pertaining to exhibitions.

Exhibitions Management
• Organize approximately eight changing exhibitions per year, rotations of the permanent collection, and installations of commissioned work. Manage guest curators and traveling-exhibition logistics. Oversee exhibition design, following high standards of exhibition production and presentation.
• Identify, negotiate, and secure exhibition loans. Identify grants and funding for exhibitions. Prepare facility reports and manage contracts, loan agreements, and insurance for incoming and outgoing loans. 
• Oversee all exhibition fabrication, preparation, and installation; schedule and supervise art installers and vendors, including painters, fabricators, art handlers, packing/crating, and transportation.

Collections Management
• Manage all aspects of collection care, following and implementing accepted museum professional standards and practices.
• Serve as collections manager and registrar; fulfill all registration, collections care, and collections documentation requirements. Identify grants and funding for collections care.
• Manage the collections database and develop project budgets for maintenance, establish object conservation priorities, and manage any conservation initiatives or treatments.

Experience, Skills, and Attributes

• At least four years of museum experience curating or partnering on a variety of exhibitions and implementing collections care. Ability to co-create strategy and oversee a small departmental budget.
• BA or equivalent experience, preferably in art history, museum studies, arts administration, or closely related field.
• Demonstrated knowledge of and experience in American art.
• Communication and interpersonal skills with the ability to network and connect with artists and audiences.
• Ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects.
• Ability to work collaboratively with museum colleagues. Emotional intelligence that builds a culture of trust and respect within the staff team and museum audiences.
• Conversant with current events in the museum field and professional museum associations.
• Evidence of commitment to DEIA in ways that that advance diversity and access. Enthusiastic support for serving diverse constituencies.
• Facility with museum databases, including Past Perfect or comparable, and with Microsoft Office.

Compensation

The salary range is $65,000 - $75,000 commensurate with experience, plus benefits.

How to Apply

To apply in confidence, submit application by April 12, 2024, to: Dan Yaeger, Senior Search Consultant, Museum Search & Reference, via SearchandRef@museum-search.com.
Please include:
1) A cover letter expressing interest in the position and giving brief examples of past related experience.
2) A résumé.
3) The names and contact information for three professional references, indicating their relationship with the candidate.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early as candidates will be considered on a rolling basis. All applications and nominations are kept confidential; we will not contact references without your permission. Nominations are welcome. For more details, visit: www.museum-search.com/open-searches.
Research shows that women and people from underrepresented groups often apply to jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications. We recognize that it is highly unlikely that someone meets 100% of the qualifications for a role. If much of this job description describes you, then please apply for this position.

Salary Range: 
65,000 -75,000

About This Job

  • Cahoon Museum of American Art
  • Cotuit, MA
  • Category: Professional
  • Salary Range: 65,000 -75,000
  • Posted: February 21, 2024