|The Harvard Art Museums seeks a rising intellectual authority on pre-1900 American art. Tasked with organizing innovative exhibition and scholarly projects, the Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art will work with a range of partners and collaborators. Engaging with scholarly and public debate on the Harvard University campus and beyond, the curator will help to complicate the art-historical narrative and propose fresh perspectives on the definition of American art for the 21st century.
The Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art will assume the full range of curatorial responsibilities for the important collection of American art pre-1900 at the Museums, including crafting an ambitious exhibition, research, and publication program, and working closely with students and faculty to foster significant and sustained curricular use of the collection for both undergraduate and graduate teaching. The curator functions successfully within a team environment and promotes dialogue, engagement, and collaboration with colleagues within the division and with curatorial departments that have overlapping collections holdings and expertise, as well as the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Study. The curator will also collaborate on selected projects and acquisitions as well as displays of the collection with relevant curators of works-on-paper collections and European paintings in the division of European and American Art, as well as with colleagues in the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art. Works by indigenous artists from the Americas are held by Harvard’s Peabody Museum, and offer the potential for curatorial collaboration.
The curator works to promote and strengthen the presence of American art at the Museums and in the wider world, and works closely with fellows, interns, and junior staff towards this end. The curator recommends purchases and solicits gifts for the collection, works to diversify the collection, and assumes an active role in soliciting funds for museum purposes, including acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications, from individuals, foundations, federal agencies, and other sources.
Areas of recent growth in the pre-1900 American art collection include still life paintings by William Michael Harnett and members of the Peale family, as well as the acquisition of a rare portrait by Julien Hudson, a nineteenth-century painter of African descent working in New Orleans, and the purchase of an early stoneware jar by Dave Drake. Shown in galleries that mix media and schools of art from Europe and America, the American art collection at Harvard is both justly-celebrated in its own right and understood as part of a larger story of artistic expression in the west and beyond. Harvard University began acquiring American art in the seventeenth century, and the Museums contain nearly 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and works of decorative arts made in the Americas. The collection of late-seventeenth-century Boston silver is particularly significant, and the Museums represent almost every phase in John Singleton Copley’s painting career. Some of these works are part of the 1,300-strong University Portrait Collection, now overseen by curators at the Harvard Art Museums. The bequest of Grenville Winthrop in 1943 added a group of major works by nineteenth-century artists including Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler. The wider Harvard Art Museums hold strengths in nineteenth-century portrait photography, and American modernism, abstract expressionism, and color-field painting. While the Curator of American Art does not directly oversee these last areas, they may advise from the point of view of these objects’ relationship to the story of art-making in America.
The Associate-level position is a 5-year term position with the possibility of extension and promotion.
Salary Grade: 059
Union: 00 – Non Union, Exempt or Temporary
Candidates MUST meet the following basic qualifications in order to be considered for this role:
Ph.D. in art history or related field; minimum of three years’ progressively responsible curatorial experience, teaching, or field-related experience. [All candidates who may be interested in the Stebbins curatorial position in American art and AT LEAST meet the basic qualifications should consider submitting an application.
Demonstrated record of scholarship and achievement in the field of American art pre-1900, and commitment to collaborating and playing an active role in a lively and rigorous university setting.
Demonstrated record of teaching, working with students, and/or mentoring preferred
Demonstrated record of successfully working with donors, collectors, and museum patrons preferred.
Commitment to equity and inclusion in museum practice and to engaging with a wide range of audiences and constituencies.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER: We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.