Chief Curator – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Reports to: Executive Director
Classification: Full-Time, Exempt

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.

Summary of Position: 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 Curatorial Fellow. The Chief Curator will play a pivotal role in bringing innovative thinking and curatorial leadership in support of KIA s institutional goals.


  • 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
  • Perform additional functions as assigned by Director of Museum Education.

Job Qualifications:

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

Physical Job Requirements: While performing this job, the employee will be required to sit, stand and work, to lift up to 30 lbs occasionally, do close work with a computer monitor and perform repetitive hand movements. Employee must be able to communicate verbally.

The KIA offers a competitive salary and benefits package that includes medical, dental, life, retirement savings, and more. The KIA is an equal opportunity, equal access employer that is fully committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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

Posted on the MMA website 8/7.

 The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721

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