Employment at the KIA

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a leading nonprofit art museum and school. Since 1924, the institute has offered art classes, exhibitions, lectures, events, activities and a permanent collection. The KIA's mission is to cultivate the creation and appreciation of the visual arts in West Michigan. We believe the visual arts are for everyone. They inspire, fulfill, and transform. Throughout the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, numerous individuals work every day to enrich the lives of others through the visual arts. In addition, faculty members in the Kirk Newman Art School instruct students of all ages in a wide variety of media. The KIA is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary and benefits package that includes medical, dental, life, retirement savings, and more.

Position Title: CHIEF CURATOR

Reports to: Executive Director
Classification: Full time, exempt

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, one of the largest museums in the state of Michigan, is seeking a collaborative curatorial leader who will assume a critical role in shaping and implementing the Institute s curatorial program. Kalamazoo is a collecting institution and has a collection numbering approximately 5,000 works of art.

The museum's exhibition and collecting emphasis is on American art and the art of Japan, China and Korea. The American art holdings are extensive, representing painting and sculpture from the 19th century to present day. The sizable works on paper collection holdings embrace American and European artists from the 17th century to contemporary. The collection includes artists as aesthetically and stylistically varied as Eastman Johnson, Andy Warhol, Henry O. Tanner, Alexander Calder and Robert Mapplethorpe. A well-respected Pre-Columbian collection, the core of which is gold objects, is a gift from one of the Institute's generous benefactors. American photography is an important and growing part of the collection.

The Institute encompasses over 70,000 square feet and includes both a museum and the Art School, which provides classes for 3,000 students ages 4 through adult in state-of-the-art classrooms and studios. The school's more than 50 part-time instructors teach courses and workshops in 9 major disciplines from painting and photography to ceramics and fiber.

The Museum maintains a busy schedule of approximately 13 exhibitions a year with related public and educational programs. Presently on view in the galleries are My Hero! Contemporary Art and Superhero Action; Vibrant Bounty: Chinese Folk Art from the Shaanxi Region; and Passion on Paper: Masterly Prints from the KIA Collection. Upcoming in June will be Global Glass: A Survey of Form and Function. The Institute maintains a strong commitment to regional, community and school exhibitions.

Executive Director Belinda Tate envisions the future of KIA as a thriving Institute having significant cultural impact locally, regionally and nationally. The KIA embraces diversity and inclusion that contributes to a healthy environment within the institution and also in the community which it serves.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Art operates with a budget of over $3.5 million and a staff of 31 full- and part-time employees (exclusive of faculty members and security guards).

The Chief Curator reports to the Executive Director. The curatorial staff (reporting to the Chief Curator) will include the Curator, Registrar, Preparator, Curatorial Assistant, and potential Curatorial Fellow. The Chief Curator will play a pivotal role in bringing innovative thinking and curatorial leadership in support of KIA s institutional goals.

Essential Responsibilities

  • In partnership with the Executive Director, lead the curatorial department in presenting a dynamic program of exhibitions.
  • Serve as KIA s primary scholar. Research and study the permanent collections for publication in appropriate journals, exhibition catalogues and other publications, for enrichment of the database and docent training, and in preparation for a future catalogue of the collection.
  • Document and propose acquisitions for presentation to the Executive Director and Board Acquisition Committee.
  • Develop innovative, engaging and accessible exhibitions, and with the Education Department, prepare materials and programs to enhance the viewing experience.
  • Implement and evolve a long-term vision for the KIA curatorial program based on demographics and an understanding of audience participation concepts, which will embrace diversity and draw non-traditional art audiences to the Institute.
  • Ensure that the permanent collection is properly installed, interpreted, and documented to enhance viewing experience and appreciation.
  • Oversee proper storage and conservation of the permanent collection.
  • In collaboration with the Development office, play an active role in the cultivation and solicitation of contributions. Cultivate gifts for the permanent collection and secure funds for exhibitions and acquisitions.
  • Participate in KIA public programs. Prepare and deliver lectures and general talks both for visitors and for communities outside of KIA.
  • Attend key local, regional and national conferences to stay abreast of scholarship, market trends and current professional best practices, build professional relationships and enhance professional growth.
  • Supervise, inspire and mentor staff to achieve the Curatorial department s goals, foster cross departmental collaboration and adhere to best museum practices

The successful candidate will have an M.A. in art history or its equivalent (Ph.D. preferred); general knowledge of the field of American art and culture from 1800 to the present and expertise in some area of American art. Solid knowledge of contemporary art is a plus. A minimum of 4 years of management-level experience and 5 years of applied curatorial experience is essential.

Also required:

  • Demonstrated excellence in conceiving and organizing exhibitions
  • Track record in both scholarly and general publications based on a thorough grounding in research tools and methodology
  • Experience working with Board committees
  • An innovative approach to exhibitions and programming
  • Strong staff management and mentoring skills.
  • A flair for public speaking, both to general audiences and to an audience of peers
  • Flexible and non-hierarchal in working inter-departmentally
  • Excellent writing and overall communication skills
  • Demonstrated organizational ability and proficient computer skills
  • Ability to create and maintain an annual departmental budget
  • Some national and international travel

In addition, the successful candidate will:

  • Be self-directed, motivated and able to work independently
  • Be an out-of-the box, creative thinker.
  • Thrive in an atmosphere of growth and change
  • Be a good listener
  • Have excellent interpersonal skills
  • Have a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic and a sense of humor

Applications and recommendations
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to diversity and inclusion. KIA has engaged Opportunity Resources Inc. to execute this search. Confidential inquiries, applications and recommendations are welcome. Please send cover letter and resume electronically to the search team: Freda Mindlin and Nancy Kaufman, Opportunity Resources Inc., New York, NY search@opportunityresources.net.