Curator, Native American Art

  • 16 Jan 2023 3:57 PM
    Message # 13059744

    Position Summary

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art recognizes the colonial history of American art and American museums. As a cultural institution, we have a responsibility to engage with dismantling historical and systemic invisibility of Indigenous peoples past, present, and future. We intentionally hold ourselves accountable to appropriate conversations, representations, connections, and education to facilitate measurable change.


    To assist in this important and long-term work supported by the institution, Crystal Bridges seeks a Curator of Native American Art to guide the evolving vision and strategic planning for Native American Art at the museum in dialogue with American Art. Building on the museums collaborations with Indigenous communities, exhibitions such as Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices 1950s to Now, collaborations with the University of Arkansas, and collections, including recent acquisitions by Native American artists, and the holdings of the University of Arkansas, the Curator will continue to meaningfully develop the Native American art collection and program. A sustained commitment to this challenging work is key to this position.


    As Crystal Bridges expands and grows, the Curator must help to build and sustain relationships with tribal leaders and Indigenous communities regionally and nationally as well as with Native consultants and advisors, professional organizations, area museums, including the Museum of Native American History located in Bentonville, and the academic community, including the expanding School of Art and graduate program in art history at the University of Arkansas. With support from the Chief Curator, the Curator of American Art and Director of Fellowships and Research, and the Curatorial team more broadly, the Curator will position Native American art as vital to American art and history and central to expanding the field. The Curator will engage with a wide range of Native American and Indigenous art from what is now known as the United States, consulting and guiding conversations about ancient, historic, modern and contemporary art. The Curator will seize opportunities to be creative and experimental as well as flexible, innovative and collaborative to help develop new methodologies for interpretation and exhibition of Native American art at Crystal Bridges. The Curator will form a collection assessment and development plan for Native American art, cultivate and steward donors, supporters and stakeholders, and help foster broad public engagement with Native and American art.


    Positions Principal Responsibilities


    • The Curator position will be responsible for the curation of the collections and Native American art broadly across time and geographic regions; activating community relationships; developing exhibitions and interpretation; and programming as well as cultivating and stewarding donors and stakeholders.

    • Crystal Bridges embraces a collaborative approach, and the Curator will work closely with colleagues across the Curatorial division and museum departments, particularly Learning and Engagement, Exhibitions, and Interpretation as well as with external stakeholders including tribal representatives, to develop collections, changing exhibitions, interpretation and display, publications, and programs.


    Additional Responsibilities


    Collections-based and subject-focused:

    • Craft a program encompassing collection development, loans, exhibitions, research and publications, and broad public engagement.

    • Conduct research and contribute to catalogues and scholarly and popular journals when appropriate.

    • Contribute to long-term curatorial vision for the museum.

    • Provide guidance and advice to museum staff and audiences on cultural competencies as they relate to the presentation, care and interpretation of Native American art and artists.

    • Supervise guest curators in area of specialization, consultants and support staff including curatorial assistants and interns, as required.

    • Serve as an ambassador for Crystal Bridges locally, nationally, and internationally, being an active member in the field as well as with the general public.


    Community and field related:

    • Established tribal relationships are critical.

    • Engage tribal leaders and Indigenous communities regionally and nationally.

    • Consult and collaborate with Native American art scholars and experts.

    • Help establish and act as liaison to a new Native American art advisory board.

    • Collaborate with University of Arkansas faculty in Indigenous Studies and School of Art and colleagues at the Museum of Native American History.


    Exhibitions and interpretation:

    • Develop and implement installation and interpretation plan for Native American collections across the museum in close collaboration with Curatorial and Exhibitions and Interpretation team; write labels and texts for use in collection galleries and exhibitions.



    • Work in close partnership cross departmentally with Learning and Engagement and Interpretation colleagues to collaboratively contribute to programs related to the collection and special exhibitions, with a special focus on Native American topics, including, but not limited to, lectures, workshops, gallery presentations and other in-gallery interpretation and community engagement efforts.


    Minimum Qualifications


    Education, Training, and Traits

    • Demonstrated passion for Native American art, knowledge of Indigenous Art and Culture, including historic and ancient.

    • Knowledge of Native American history, contemporary issues among Native American communities, and material culture required.

    • Demonstrated experience in community outreach and a collaborative approach to working with Native American communities and tribal representatives are critical.

    • Masters degree in a humanities discipline with a specialized focus in Native American art.

    • Demonstrated commitment to new methodologies for interpreting and exhibiting Native American art.

    • Ability and willingness to work with a wide range of audiences and donors/stakeholders.


    Work Experience

    • 7 to 10 years of experience with cultural organizations, academic institutions, or museums.


    Skills and Abilities

    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including public speaking and writing for audiences ranging from the general public to international scholars.

    • Excellent working relationships with collectors, donors, curatorial colleagues, scholars, and the art market.

    • Strong research skills.

    • Ability to meet deadlines and handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

    • Demonstrated project management skills.

    • Ability to interact respectfully, collegially, and professionally with all employees and volunteers at all levels of responsibility.

    • Ability and willingness to be a team player both within the department, and throughout the entire organization.

    • Ability to maintain the highest ethics as they relate to all aspects of curatorial endeavor, and to understand and maintain the highest levels of confidentiality.

    • Proficiency with standard office equipment including basic computer literacy (word processing, spread sheets, e-mail, etc.) telephone, fax and copy machines.


    Physical Demands and Work Environment

    The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    • Physical demands: The position requires verbal and written conversation with others. Vision abilities required by the job include close vision and color perception.

    • Work environment: Work will be performed in an office environment, museum spaces, and in communities served. The noise level in the work environment is usually low to moderate.

    • Flexibility: Position requires ongoing flexibility in work hours due to events, staffing needs and other factors.


    About Crystal Bridges

    The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding American art. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by arts patron and chair of the museums board of directors, Alice Walton. Since opening to the public on 11-11-11, the museum has welcomed more than 5 million visitors and garnered 15,000 membership households. Some 280,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost.


    Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house the galleries and amenities such as a restaurant, museum store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. In addition to the museums architecture, a Usonian house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was preserved, acquired, and moved to the museum grounds in 2015, and a rare Buckminster Fullers Flys Eye Dome was installed in 2017, both providing access to American architectural masterworks in a natural setting.


    Sculpture and walking trails link the museum's 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. A new entrance, elevator tower, and pedestrian bridge was added to the north side of the building in 2017, increasing access to the museums north lawn and newly enhanced North Forest Trail. More than 600,000 visitors a year utilize the museums five miles of walking trails.


    Crystal Bridges permanent collection spans five centuries of American artworks from early American to the present, and is always free to view. Crystal Bridges is committed to telling broad and inclusive stories by acquiring and showcasing the highest quality works by artists underrepresented in art history and conventional museum frameworks. Works such as Asher B. Durands Kindred Spirits, Gilbert Stuarts George Washington, and Georgia OKeeffes Jimson Weed are displayed alongside contemporary artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Maya Lin, Fritz Scholder, Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Amy Sherald represent some of the finest achievements in American art. The collection continues to grow, while the museum also offers temporary exhibitions that complement the collection and can also reveal arts connections to equality and justice.


    Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. In 2019, more than 800 public programs and events were offered, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. Crystal Bridges stays connected online with the full collection available via eMuseum, an award-winning app, a podcast called Museum Way, all available for free, and many of the museums lectures such as the Distinguished Speaker Series are on Crystal Bridges YouTube channel. An online-learning initiative provides opportunities for students and teachers with arts-based courses, as well as SmartHistory with arts history videos and essays. Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program encourages and supports full-time scholarship that seeks to expand boundaries and traditional categories of investigation into American art and visual culture. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences. In addition, Crystal Bridges administers the awarding of the Don Tyson Prize, an unprecedented award recognizing significant achievements in the field of American art. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at


    About the Momentary

    The Momentary is a new contemporary art space that opened to the public on February 22, 2020, in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. A satellite to Crystal Bridges, the Momentary presents visual, performing, and culinary arts. The mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary arts role in everyday life and explore the unfolding story of contemporary American arts in an international context by actively commissioning and exhibiting outstanding works that explore new ideas and inspire action. The Momentary was founded by the Walton family, based on the vision of Tom, Olivia, and Steuart Walton. The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this project as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas. The Momentary welcomes all with free general admission. Additional offerings include an artist-in-residence program, culinary experiences including an Onyx Coffee Lab, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, an outdoor festival space, and a gift store. For more information, visit The Momentary is located at 507 SE E Street, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.