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Chief Curator of American Art - Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Chief Curator of American Art - Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a world-class research and educational institution precisely because the dedicated people who bring their exceptional talent and expertise to work everyday make it not just a wonderful place to work, but truly a magnificent treasure for members and visitors.

Job Description:

Classification: Exempt, Regular Full-Time, 37.5 hours per week

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens seeks a highly motivated, experienced, collaborative, and visionary chief curator of American art. Reporting to the Director of the Art Collections, the chief curator of American art is responsible for the care and development of the collection of American art, its growth, display, interpretation, publication, and programming. Consisting of objects in all media spanning the colonial era to the late 20th century, the American art collection has grown exponentially since its birth as a Huntington collecting area more than thirty years ago, while the American art galleries, having undergone significant expansion in the last several years, are now approximately 30,000 square feet in size, including the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing, which opened in October 2016.

As the Huntington prepares to celebrate its Centennial this fall, we are seeking a leader who will help us build on our strong foundation to maximize both scholarship in the field and public impact for our nearly 800,000 visitors per year. The chief curator of American art will help us reconsider what our extraordinary historical collection means in the present, at this unique time in history and in the particular place (greater LA). We are looking to tell a more expansive story through our collection, one that recognizes multiple definitions of what it means to be “American,” and one that situates the artworks within a larger public discourse--a discourse that is not only national and hemispherical, but even global, recognizing the impact of transatlantic and transpacific trade on American art over many centuries.

The successful candidate should have a proven record of building relationships across all levels of an organization, must be an effective manager of resources (both human and financial), and fit well within an institutional culture that values collegiality, trust, and transparency. In addition to a specialization in American art, s/he will be an advocate for multidisciplinary scholarship, and be willing to think creatively about how to create synergies between the art collection, the library, the research division, and the botanical gardens. The successful candidate will also have a wide-ranging knowledge of the history of art in general; a knowledge of and interest in the art of today; and a commitment to welcoming broader audiences through diverse programs and acquisitions.

Essential Functions

  • Builds and leads a dynamic American art team; supervises the assistant/associate curator of American art; the assistant curator of American decorative art; and curatorial fellows and interns

  • Pursues scholarly research to support acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, and gallery installations

  • Oversees installation of the permanent galleries of American art, with periodic reassessment and re-installation, particularly as the collection grows

  • In consultation with the Director of the Art Collections, advises on long term acquisitions strategy that relates to the mission and larger strategic initiatives of the institution, fills historic gaps, and also includes more female artists and artists of color

  • Researches and develops potential acquisitions, and makes appropriate presentations to Trustees, Board of Governors Art Committee, Art Collectors Council, and other Huntington supporters

  • Proposes and organizes temporary exhibitions of significance, both travelling exhibitions and rotations of the permanent collection

  • Acquires important works of American art across media through purchase and donation. Secures important loans of American art when appropriate

  • Works with staff across the Huntington, and with the Education, IT, and Research departments in particular, on programs related to the American collection and didactic materials, including all interpretive digital media

  • Works with the Advancement department to identify, nurture, and steward potential donors and/or art collections, and is a keen advocate for the Huntington’s American art collection within the Los Angeles donor community, the region, and beyond; helps secure support for mission critical initiatives from corporate and other philanthropic foundations and from government agencies

  • Works closely with the chief curator of European art on short and long term divisional strategic initiatives

  •  In consultation with the Director of the Art Collections, develops a sustainable program for contemporary art within the context of the historical art collections. Cultivates external relationships with artists

Other Functions

  • Other duties as assigned.


  • A Ph.D. in art history, with a specialization in American art, is strongly preferred

  • Flexible, collaborative approach

  • Commitment to welcoming diverse audiences

  • Exemplary written and verbal communication skills

  • A strong record of publications, exhibitions, and collection responsibilities

  • Proven track record of donor cultivation and stewardship


  • A minimum of 10 years’ museum experience

  • A minimum of 3-5 years’ experience managing others, projects, and budgets

Working Conditions

Office environment, performs work on a personal computer, extensive face-to-face discussions.

How to Apply

Along with the online application, submissions must include the following:

  • A cover letter addressing the candidate’s interest in the position

  • A published paper or writing sample

  • A complete CV of education history, employment, honors, awards, publications, etc.

  • Names and contact information of three references

  • Please note that you can upload these files during the "My Experience" step in the online application process by clicking the "Upload" button

At The Huntington, we believe that having a team of diverse backgrounds and voices working together will enable us to support and promote the appreciation of the humanities, the arts, and botanical science. The Huntington is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing employment opportunities regardless of race, religious creed, color, national origin, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by local, state or federal law.