The Smithsonian American Art Museum seeks an outstanding emerging scholar of American art for a curatorial fellowship funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Beginning in fall 2019, this two-year position, with a possible third-year renewal, will provide an invaluable professional development opportunity to a scholar interested in a curatorial career in an art museum. It will also support scholarly research on SAAM’s permanent collection, one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. The selected fellow will work under the supervision of an experienced curator and in collaboration with a team of staff from various departments. The appointee will develop practical skills in all four areas of curatorial practice: research, exhibition development, collections management and planning, and public service. He or she will also participate fully in the intellectual life of the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, home of its research fellowship program and journal, American Art.
Under the guidance of the supervisory curator, the fellow will assist with the research and planning of a major exhibition or collections development project. The appointee will gain experience in various phases of the planning process, from research to writing, fundraising to conservation, and design to interpretation. In the second or third year, the fellow will have the opportunity to propose his or her own exhibition drawn from the museum’s permanent collection (gallery, traveling, or online), applying interpretive strategies that will result in a print or web-based publication or resource. Throughout his or her appointment, the selected fellow will have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of museum activities, including researching the collection, writing gallery text, delivering lectures to diverse audiences, leading gallery tours, and contributing to the museum’s social media presence.
The ideal candidate will demonstrate scholarly excellence and promise in addition to a strong interest in a museum career. A PhD in art history within the last five years is preferred; however, the fellowship is open to individuals with other academic specialties, such as African American and Women’s Studies. Applications are requested from scholars whose interests and areas of expertise align with one of the museum’s collection strengths and current curatorial initiatives:
Sculpture: SAAM holds the largest collection of American sculpture in the world with deep strengths in 19th- and 20th-century bronze and marble sculpture and key holdings in works by Hiram Powers, Edmonia Lewis, Paul Manship, and Luis Jiménez. The fellow will work closely with the curator of sculpture to develop a major collections-based project and book tentatively titled, “Skin Deep: Race and American Sculpture.” This research project aims to use sculpture, with its intrinsic and enduring ties to the body, as a tool for charting shifting attitudes on race in American public life.
20th-Century Art: The museum’s rapidly expanding holdings include in-depth collections of painting, photography, graphic art, Latinx art, African American art, sculpture, and time-based media. The fellow will work closely with SAAM’s curator of 20th-century art on research and planning for the reinstallation of the museum’s 20th-century collections. This project aims to articulate collection strengths as well as amplify the presentation of art and artists currently under-recognized within the museum’s holdings, including conceptual, performance, and feminist artists, as well as women and artists of color. The curatorial fellow will be a full member of the curatorial team planning the larger reinstallation and reinterpretation of the museum’s permanent collections.
The fellowship is categorized as a term trust position (IS-9, not-to-exceed three years) with a starting salary of $59,657 plus benefits, and an allowance for research and conference travel. Applications must be received by Monday, July 15, and include:
- A cover letter outlining the candidate’s interest in the fellowship
- A statement of 750 to 1,000 words that describes the applicant’s area of research and how it relates to one of the two areas of curatorial focus outlined above.
- A published paper or other writing sample
- Curriculum vitae with two references
Please submit applications to SAAMFellowship@si.edu.
All applications will be reviewed by a committee comprised of the chief curator, deputy chief curator, mentoring curator, and chair of academic programs. The fellowship must begin by December 31, 2019.
SAAM believes that recruiting and maintaining an equitable, inclusive, and diverse staff is critical to our mission. We welcome and encourage applications from qualified persons of color; with disabilities; who are gay, lesbian, and transgender; who are veterans; and/or with other underrepresented backgrounds and experiences. The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, or disability.
Additional Salary Information: plus benefits, and an allowance for research and conference travel.