The Huntsville Museum of Art seeks a Chief Curator to advance the exhibitions and collections programs of the Museum. This is an opportunity to set new initiatives for the curatorial program and build on the accomplishments of Peter Baldaia, who will be retiring as Chief Curator after 27 years of service. Among the goals is a desire to expand the collection to include works by emerging and established national artists complementing the Museum’s longstanding interest in Southeast contemporary artists, a particular strength of the collection. The vision includes presentation of the history of American art interwoven with exhibitions and collection development that reflects the history and diversity of American artists and the vibrant voices of the art of our time.
This is an exciting, multifaceted senior-leadership position reporting to Christopher Madkour, the Executive Director. The next Chief Curator should be a visionary, creative forward-thinker, attuned to American art, changing audience interests, increasing diversity, and new opportunities as well as challenges facing traditional cultural experiences in a multimedia, online world.
The HMA environment is highly collaborative, hardworking and professional in a relaxed workplace that values collegiality, trust, respect and teamwork. Creativity, nimbleness, inclusion, exploration and inspiration are guiding principles that propel HMA forward.
About the Huntsville Museum of Art
The Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA) was established in 1970 by the City of Huntsville, which owns the facilities, and is an independent 501c(3). HMA is centrally located in downtown Huntsville, a thriving community that is experiencing enormous professional and cultural growth. The Museum comprises 75,034 square feet with fourteen galleries covering 20,000 square feet including the 2010 Davidson Center expansion, which includes seven exhibition galleries. HMA is in 12-acre Big Spring International Park, noted for its year-round fairs, festivals, outdoor music scene and many program partnerships with HMA. The Museum received AAM accreditation in 1980 and was re-accredited with distinction in 1989, 2004 and 2020. The annual budget is $2.6 million, plus significant City of Huntsville in-kind contributions, a staff of 12 full-time and 20 part-time employees, and annual attendance of 60,000. The curatorial department budget is $287,000 with a staff of 3 plus part-time employees and volunteers. There are 12 members of the Board of Trustees and an Art Foundation Board of 22 who help secure resources necessary to expand the Museum’s impact, presence and permanence in the community. The Museum endowment is approximately $2.2 million.
The permanent collection of the Museum comprises over 3,200 objects, primarily focused on 19th, 20th, and 21st century American art with an emphasis on art from the Southeast and expanding collections that include a national context to complement its significant collection of American artists with ties to Alabama including works by William Christenberry, David Parrish and Stephen Rolfe Powell, to name a few. Of significance, in 2008, the Museum acquired the prestigious Sellars Collection of Art by American Women, a landmark collection of over 400 paintings, drawings, and sculptures that heralds achievements of more than 250 American women artists active between 1850 and 1940. There is opportunity to expand this historic collection to establish one of the most significant holdings of American women artists in the nation.
In addition, the collection holds some 400 works on paper by 19th, 20th and 21st century artists such as James McNeil Whistler, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Since 1998 nearly 70 contemporary works in wood, glass, metal, clay and fiber have been added to the collection including works by Dale Chihuly, William Morris and Philip Moulthrop. In 2014, HMA was the recipient of a collection of works by John James Audubon: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, thirty-six original large-format Audubon prints from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Told, Jr. Over the years, HMA has acquired through purchases and donations, a variety of works by contemporary Southern artists.
The Museum offers a robust education program that includes the Museum Academy, which for over 40 years has offered creative and engaging hands-on art classes. The Academy’s programs include artist master classes, hands-on learning for all ages, and scholarships. Classes are held in two classrooms on the Plaza Level in the Museum overlooking Big Spring Park, the epicenter of the dynamic and evolving city center that is Downtown Huntsville, and works as a magnet for cultural activities.
Huntsville is a city on the rise and is defining a new south much like cities of Austin and Chattanooga. The Museum is viewed as an important center of engagement, inspiration and cultural experience amidst one of the fastest growing communities in the country. Its donor base is longstanding, dedicated and eager to support the next Chief Curator. Embracing the past while presenting fresh ideas and experiences through temporary exhibitions and the collection is paramount. Leading and collaborating in a roll-up sleeves manner to address all the daily tasks that make up curatorial responsibilities is essential. Budget planning and oversight, research, exhibition and content development, interpretation, collection development and care, along with donor and community relations make for a busy and rewarding set of responsibilities.
The Chief Curator will have a background in American Art, along with five years of experience as a chief curator or working at the full-curator level in a larger museum. Master’s degree in Art History is required (PhD is preferred), as is American art expertise. A record of exhibitions and collection development, donor/collector engagement, grant writing and community engagement is expected. Excellent research and writing skills, evidence of exploring new topics and ideas to further scholarship and cultivation of new and diverse audiences are important.
1. Conceive and organize exhibitions with the curatorial team, the Executive Director, and other key stakeholders.
2. Oversee the permanent collection, master planning, acquisitions, deaccessions, conservation, and research on the collection.
3. Work with the Executive Director and the Board’s Collections Committee strengthening the collection.
4. Explore new topics and ideas to present exhibition and collection programs that further the Museum’s reputation and cultivation of new and diverse audiences.
5. Present gallery talks and public lectures in conjunction with the Education Department and Docent Committee.
6. Bring out the best in staff through effective leadership and mentorship resulting in a cooperative and enthusiastic team in a calm and efficient work environment.
7. Through research, scholarship, national networking and collaboration strive to be a leader in the field known as a networker and a convener.
8. Work closely with the marketing and education departments to build audiences and engagement and participate in the greater Huntsville community.
9. Work closely with development efforts to grow support through donor cultivation, sponsorships and grant writing.
10. Management and oversight of the curatorial department through effective problem-solving, timely decisions in a well-organized, efficient and effective department.
11. As a senior-level leader, participate in the Museum’s full decision-making process, budgeting and operations, helping set priorities, supporting staff on a wide range of issues and work across departments.
12. Demonstrate the highest ethical standards in all activities.
The anticipated salary is $85,000-$100,000 commensurate with experience, plus an attractive benefits package including health care, vacation and sick leave, 403b, dental and vision insurance, and relocation expenses. Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States.
Diversity and inclusion
The Huntsville Museum of Art values diversity in all its forms and actively encourages candidates with diverse backgrounds to apply. It does not discriminate against any candidate or employee based on race, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion or veteran status.
About Huntsville and the region
Huntsville is in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama and is the largest city in the state with a population of 215,000 and a metro-area population of 500,000. It’s recent growth reflects national and international interest in the region and expanding opportunities to leverage a highly educated workforce, business development opportunities, its central location to other major cities, mild climate and abundant outdoor recreation. U.S. News and World Report ranked Huntsville first in the 25 best places to live in the U.S. for 2022-2023. The Report said the 25 cities selected offer the best combination of jobs, desirability, cost of living and quality of life. The city of Huntsville jumped up 2 spots as it was ranked number 3 in 2021. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
Nicknamed “Rocket City,” because NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is in Huntsville, it is now more apropos of Huntsville’s economic vitality and overall attractive work-life environment. Huntsville is home to 25 biotech firms, colleges and universities, excellent public and private schools and vibrant, family-friendly neighborhoods. Cummings Research Park is the second largest research park in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. There are 165 arts, culture, and humanities organizations in the greater metro area that include the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville Symphony, Broadway Theatre League, and Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre. The City has a revitalized and walkable downtown in the Twickenham Historic District that includes restaurants, shops, entertainment, and new housing. Huntsville is also a city of affordable neighborhoods compared to other parts of the country with options that include new rental complexes, historic neighborhoods, family communities and renovation opportunities. Given its mild southern climate, Huntsville offers year-round recreational opportunities. The combined size of nearby Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest is 866,468 acres. Southern hospitality and a genuinely friendly community that values diversity and respects creative enterprise are signature elements of this beautiful city.
How to Apply
Please submit a cover letter, résumé/CV, and names of 3 references and your professional relationship, with contact information by July 5, 2022 to: Dan Keegan, Search Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.
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