Title: Senior Curator
Reports to: VP of Operations
Compensation: Benefits. Regular, full-time, salary, exempt position
Direct Reports: None
Dotted Line Report: Director of Collections, Director of Aircraft Collections
The Senior Curator serves as the academic leader and aerospace subject matter expert for the museum at-large and provides curatorial guidance across museum departments. The Senior Curator is a champion of the Museum’s mission, vision and values and will visibly promote these to internal and external audiences as a spokesperson for the Museum. The Senior Curator is an informed leader with knowledge about aviation and aerospace history and current advancements in aerospace.
As a key spokesperson for the Museum and the collection, the Senior Curator will provide interviews when requested, and participates in public programs and speaking engagements, including lectures for internal, community and professional groups. The Senior Curator writes articles for the Museum’s bi-monthly magazine as well as industry publications, and participates in the activities of appropriate professional organizations such as the American Aviation Historical Society.
The Senior Curator collaborates with the Director of Collections to develop collecting strategies and policies, to ensure that the Museum is developing its collection thoughtfully with a view towards preserving key elements of aviation and aerospace history, as well as considering the Museum’s exhibit needs and those of the researchers who patronize our dedicated Research Center. The Senior Curator participates in the evaluation process for incoming donations, by providing input on what we should and should not accept based on its historical significance and intrinsic value, usefulness for researchers and exhibit potential, and makes recommendations for library acquisitions. The Senior Curator also works with the Museum’s Registrar to establish accurate insurance values for all collections materials.
The Senior Curator collaborates with the Collections Department staff to research the history and provenance of aircraft and artifacts in the collection to establish their identity and historical significance, providing staff with information for catalog records, finding aids, and website content. The Senior Curator also makes recommendations for processing, cataloging and digitization projects, based on the significance of collection materials. The Senior Curator participates in the review of collection finding aids and the metadata of digitized materials to ensure materials are accurately identified and described. The Senior Curator also plays a key role in the reference activities of the Museum’s Research Center, including answering reference questions and making resource recommendations for patrons.
In collaboration with the Director of Aircraft Collections & Restoration and the Director of Collections, the Senior Curator develops conservation and restoration guidelines to preserve and restore the authenticity of each aircraft to museum quality.
In collaboration with the Director of Exhibits, the Senior Curator assists in the development of exhibits and artifact displays to engage and educate the Museum audience, including conducting research, providing content, writing and reviewing exhibit text and labels, and making recommendations on objects and artifacts from the Museum’s collection to exclude in exhibits.
This position will interact with the Board of Trustees as a staff representative on the Collections, Space Flight and Exhibits committees. The Senior Curator attends Executive Board Meetings and will periodically present materials to the Trustees at Board, Committee and other relevant meetings and events.
Education: A Master’s degree in a related field or equivalent professional experience. A PhD preferred.
Experience: Minimum of five years curatorial oversight in an aviation museum.
Licensing & Certification: None
Knowledge and Skills:
Knowledge and experience with industry best practices regarding the handling and care of museum collections, including objects, archival and library materials
Highly skilled in public speaking as well as excellent writing skills, with the ability to present information and materials to diverse populations
A clear and persuasive communicator in positive and in negative situations, provides productive meeting leadership and proactively relates to internal and external constituents
Comfortable interfacing and collaborating with various groups including volunteers, patrons and researchers, museum staff, and board members
Topical expert in the history of the aerospace industry
Museum Specific Qualifications:
At time of job offer candidate must be able to pass a criminal background check
Customer service/client driven focus with a positive, collaborative, solution-based attitude that stays within and upholds Museum’s policies and procedures
Onsite attendance is essential to perform the duties of this position
Reliable and available to work flexible hours which may include some weekends and/or evenings as needed
At time of job offer references will required
Essential Job Functions
Serves as the academic leader and subject matter expert for the museum at-large.
Serves as the public face and key spokesperson for the Collection (and the Museum when applicable), including providing interviews (television, “expert” interviews for National History Day students, etc.), public programs, Coffee with the Curator, museum podcast, etc.
Provides focus and guidance for the development of the collection, including: working with the Director of Collections to define the scope of the collection; participating in the evaluation process for incoming donations, providing input on what we should and should not accept based on its historical significance, usefulness for researchers, etc.; and making recommendations for library acquisitions
Works with the Museum’s Registrar to establish accurate insurance values for all of the Museum’s collections.
Increases the visibility of the collection through outreach activities and ensuring that museum’s collection is developing to meet the needs of the patron-base and in line with AAM best practices and industry standards.
Ensures the intellectual integrity of all of the Museum’s exhibits by working with the Exhibits Department to devise and develop new exhibits. Acts as a liaison between the two departments.
Assists members of the Collections Department with various capacities, including: researching and establishing the identity and historical significance of collection materials; identifying aircraft in photographs; providing historical context for collection descriptions and finding aids; participating in finding aid reviews; making recommendations for digitization and processing projects (i.e. what would be most helpful for researchers, what needs the most attention, etc.), and providing accurate descriptions and captions for digitized materials.
Assists with reference requests, including performing research and directly responding to patrons
Provides support to the Museum’s Oral History program, including making recommendations for interview subjects, performing research, and conducting interviews.
Assumes primary responsibility for training new Docents about aerospace history, and the Museum’s aircraft and spacecraft. (The other aspects of docent-training, such as administration, touring techniques, emergency procedures, etc., can be handled by the Education Department.)
Assists the Director of Aircraft Collections and Restoration to develop guidelines for the care, preservation and restoration of the aircraft, including establishing the historical accuracy of restoration projects.
Publishes articles and books that will enhance the Museum’s reputation as a subject expert and, by extension, will enhance the standing of the Museum.
Develops and maintains professional relations with fellow Curators in other museums, as well as relevant professional organizations such as the American Aviation Historical Society, etc.
Participates in board committee including the Collections and Restoration Committee, Space Flight Committee, and Exhibits Committee.
Assists the Vice President of Operations and Director of Collections with facility/artifact long-range growth plans.
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.
This full-time exempt position regular work week is Monday through Friday 8am-5pm, with the understanding that based on operational requirements there may be occasions where it is necessary to work extended hours, evenings and/or weekends.
Normal office conditions apply, including repetitive wrist and arm movement and long periods of sitting or standing
Ability to lift 30 pounds with assistance
The ability to focus, bend, carry, reach to the side, front and overhead, push, pull, walk, stand, twist and squat are occasional requirements in a normal office setting
This position requires one to be able to travel which may subject one to inclement weather, flight delays or other travel related inconveniences
Travel is primarily local during the business day, although some out-of-the-area and overnight travel may be expected.
About The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, the Museum and its people bring mankind's incredible history of flight to life.