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Position Detail - Assistant Curator

Assistant Curator

Apply now Job no: 493574
Work type: Staff Full-time
Location: South Hadley, MA
Categories: Museum/ Fine Arts

Position Type: Staff Full-time

Hours per week: 37.5   

Weeks per year: 52

Work Schedule: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm Monday through Friday; Occasional evening and weekend hours

Annual salary range: $49,000-$53,000, commensurate with experience

Department Summary & Job Purpose:

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (MHCAM) is a dynamic learning resource for both campus and community audiences, serving as a laboratory for innovative interdisciplinary teaching. Founded in 1876, the Museum stewards a collection of approximately 26,000 works of global art and objects of material culture, including those of the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum. The Museum’s core program, “Teaching with Art,” serves the curriculum by annually supporting over 200 class visits across the disciplines. The Museum mounts permanent collection installations and special exhibitions, while also hosting community-driven programming with campus partners, those at Five Colleges, and others. For more information about MHCAM, please visit:

The Assistant Curator is responsible for researching the Museum’s permanent collection and supporting key Curatorial initiatives such as exhibitions, permanent collection installations, and acquisitions. The position provides the opportunity to curate permanent collection installations and small-scale exhibitions as well as propose works for acquisition while working collaboratively with the Collections and Engagement departments. This position provides support for Curatorial initiatives based on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility principles and those of the College’s anti-racism action plan, as related to the collections of the Art Museum and the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum.

The Museum’s Curatorial team represents a unique model in which Curatorial and Engagement curators work together in the planning of exhibitions and installations. Exhibitions and permanent collection installations are conceived and developed by this team and the Museum Director, in support of the Museum’s teaching mission. The qualified candidate will be a highly collaborative individual who thrives in a fast-paced mission-driven work environment. The qualified candidate will also possess stellar writing and editorial skills as well as the ability to communicate effectively and thoughtfully with Museum colleagues and those across the College.

This position reports to the Associate Curator of Visual and Material Culture/ NAGPRA Coordinator and supervises student interns. Eligible for 7.5 hours of remote work per week.

Applications are accepted until the position is filled. The anticipated start date of the position is summer 2023. Writing samples upon request.


Core Job Duties and Responsibilities: 

Conduct various duties that support the daily management of the Art Museum's collection of over 17,000 Art Museum objects and 7,000 Joseph Allen Skinner Museum objects, including scholarly research, writing, and cataloging, in order to support MHC student and faculty use and those of the Five College Consortium

• Research permanent collection and assist with ongoing improvements to Mimsy collections database and object file cataloging

• Respond to collection-related inquiries from researchers and visitors (with assistance from Art Museum Advisory Board Fellow and Student interns)

• Act as point person for updating database grounded in DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) principles and assist Associate Curator with repatriation initiatives

• Collaborate with the Associate Curator and Associate Director of Registration and Collections to facilitate outgoing loan requests

• Work with other curators and the Associate Director of Registration and Collections to identify works of art needing conservation treatment, frames, mounts, and housings

• Facilitate the use of the Museum and its collections by faculty and students

• Respond to collection-related inquiries from scholars, students, faculty, and visitors (with assistance from Art Museum Advisory Board Fellow and Student interns)

• Supervise and mentor Student interns         


Support the development of the Art Museum collection through acquisitions work, gifts-in-kind processing, and deaccessions projects

• Serve on the Museum’s Acquisitions Committee

• Draft acquisition proposals for works brought to the Acquisitions Committee

• Propose new acquisitions in support of the teaching mission and collection development

• Visit galleries and donors to assess possible gifts and purchases

• Provide support for deaccessions projects         


Provide support in the planning and execution of special exhibitions and permanent collection installations

• Support the coordination of exhibitions and permanent collection installations

• Propose and curate exhibitions and installations

• Support and facilitate occasional exhibitions from external curators (faculty, guest curators, and students)

• Coordinate exhibition budgets to support Associate Curator and Financial Analyst

• Manage occasional exhibition publication projects (including catalogs, brochures, etc.)         


Contribute to Museum communications and interpretation initiatives to broaden the outreach of the Museum both on campus and externally, in order to support MHC’s Leading with Distinction strategic goal

• Draft interpretation materials, such as chat labels and wall texts

• Manage incoming Rights & Reproduction requests

• Support the production of exhibition-related materials for class use and other audiences

• Write articles for MHCAM Journal

• Write exhibition press releases

• Write content for the Museum website

• Write and provide content for Annual Report and biennial Stewardship Report         


Support Curatorial initiatives that advance other Museum priorities including events, Art Museum Advisory Board engagement, and fundraising

• Attend Museum events hosted throughout the year, and provide support/coordination when needed

• Prepare for Art Museum Advisory Board meetings, including the Board’s Collections Committee

• Contribute to grant applications and track related funding         


Other duties

• Occasionally present gallery talks and lead tours for alum and community groups

• Attend Museums10 Curators meetings

• Monitor and assist with general Museum email traffic

• Occasional evening and weekend hours are expected

• Perform other duties as assigned


A Master’s degree in art history or related field; a minimum of 2 to 3 years at a museum; a strong knowledge of art history and a keen eye for design and museum display, and:

• Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
• Strong interpersonal skills and proven ability to develop collaborative working relationships with students, staff, faculty, and external colleagues
• Stellar research skills and the ability to synthesize and articulate complex histories and themes for didactics, proposals, and object files
• Excellent editorial, written, and verbal skills
• Ability to prioritize, anticipate deadlines, exercise good judgment, and manage multiple projects and tasks simultaneously
• Excellent attention to detail combined with creativity and innovation
• Outstanding organizational and problem-solving skills with a strong track record of reliability and efficient follow-through on tasks and projects
• Flexibility and adaptability in a fast-paced environment
• Passion and commitment to the Museum’s teaching mission at the College
• Commitment to principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and the ability and desire to work effectively with a diverse constituency
• Computer literacy and advanced familiarity with Microsoft Office, Google Suite, and Adobe Creative Suite, and an aptitude for learning new software, such as collections database programs

Preferred Qualifications:

• Preference for some academic museum experience


Compliance Requirements: 

Physical Demands: 

1. Physical Demands/Work Type

• Sedentary work: Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and/or negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise move objects. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required only occasionally and all other sedentary criteria are met.

2. Physical Activity

• Climbing: Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles and the like, using feet and legs and/or hands and arms. Bodily agility is emphasized.
• Kneeling: Bending legs at knee to come to a rest on knee or knees.
• Reaching: Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
• Standing: Particularly for sustained periods of time.
• Walking: Moving about on foot to accomplish tasks, particularly for long distances or moving from one work site to another.
• Lifting: Raising objects from a lower to a higher position or moving objects horizontally from position to position. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires substantial use of upper extremities and back muscles.
• Fingering: Picking, pinching, typing or otherwise working, primarily with fingers rather than with the whole hand as in handling.
• Grasping: Applying pressure to an object with the fingers and palm.
• Feeling: Perceiving attributes of objects, such as size, shape, temperature or texture by touching with skin, particularly that of fingertips.
• Talking: Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word. Those activities in which they must convey detailed or important spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
• Sufficient clarity of speech required includes those which permit the employee to discern verbal instructions and communicate effectively in person and by telephone.
• Employee talks in front of large groups of people on a daily basis.
• Employee speaks with students and other faculty daily by telephone, e-mail, or in person on a daily basis.
• Hearing: Perceiving the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction. Ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and to make the discriminations in sound.

3. Visual Acuity

• Visual Acuity including color, depth perception and field vision.
• Visual Acuity - Specific vision abilities required include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
• The employee is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; and extensive reading.
• The employee is required to perform extensive reading; visual inspection involving small defects, small parts, and/or operation of machines.
• Visual inspection and measurement devices; and/or assembly or fabrication parts at distances close to the eyes.
• Employee is reading and correcting assignments, evaluating student writing, presentations, projects, research assignments, etc.
• Employee operates office equipment and computers to perform essential duties and responsibilities.

Working Conditions: 
Environmental and Atmospheric

• The employee is not substantially exposed to adverse environmental conditions (such as in typical office or administrative work).
• Protection from weather conditions but not necessarily from temperature changes. Activities occur inside and outside environments.  

Background Checks:

Mount Holyoke College is committed to providing a safe and secure environment, supported by qualified employees that will allow all of its students, faculty, staff and those associated with them to successfully carry out the mission of the college. As a condition of employment, the College will conduct appropriate background checks for all new hires. Mount Holyoke has designated the Office of Human Resources as the office responsible for ensuring that background checks (CORI, SORI, Credit History, & Driver Credential) are completed and utilized in the hiring process and Five College Office of Compliance and Risk Management as the office responsible for facilitating background checks as articulated in this policy.

Special Instructions for Applicants: 

Apply online; application materials must include:

  1. A cover letter summarizing interests and qualifications
  2. A complete resume or curriculum vitae
  3. Contact information for 3 professional references

Mount Holyoke College is a women’s college that is gender diverse. The College is committed to providing equal access and opportunity in employment and education to all employees and students. In compliance with state and federal law, Mount Holyoke College does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, genetic information, sex, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, ancestry, veteran or military status, or any other legally protected status under federal, state or local law. The College does not discriminate on the basis of gender in the recruitment and admission of students to its graduate program.

Mount Holyoke College is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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