The Morgan Library & Museum (the Morgan) seeks an accomplished curator and collaborative leader to serve as the Acquavella Curator and Department Head of Modern and Contemporary Drawings. Deeply drawn to the intimate and historically grounded collection of the Morgan Library & Museum, the successful candidate will bring a passion for modern and contemporary works on paper and a strategic vision for the department within the context of the collection as a whole. The Acquavella Curator will conceive and implement exhibitions, publish scholarly research, participate in audience development and fundraising, pursue acquisitions, and help facilitate access to the collection for researchers, students, and the public. Embracing the Morgan’s intimate scale, art historical depth, and standards of excellence, the Acquavella Curator reports to the Director and will manage a staff of two (one assistant or associate curator, and a part-time administrative assistant) as well as occasional interns and fellows. The position partners closely with fellow curators and colleagues across the museum; contributes to the success of the Morgan Drawing Institute; and inspires and engages a knowledgeable visiting committee. The Morgan Library & Museum has a total annual operating budget of $25 million and an endowment of $280 million.
The Morgan Library & Museum has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to conduct this search. Confidential inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed to Isaacson, Miller as indicated at the end of this document.
THE MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM
A museum and independent research library located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural benefactor Pierpont Morgan. The Morgan offers visitors close encounters with great works of human accomplishment in a setting treasured for its intimate scale and historic significance. Its collection of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings, and works of art comprise a unique and dynamic record of civilization, as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process from 4000 BC to the present.
The Morgan’s collection of Modern and Contemporary Drawings spans the twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries, illuminating the diverse contributions made by artists working on paper to the history of modern art. Strengths include European modernism, with outstanding works by Juan Gris, Paul Klee, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Egon Schiele; Pop drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Paschke, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol; and American drawings of the 1960s and after by John Cage, Bruce Conner, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, and Anne Truitt. Additional highlights include drawings by Cecily Brown, Marlene Dumas, David Hockney, Chris Ofili, Martin Puryear, and Rosemarie Trockel (to name just a few), as well as sketchbooks by Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock.
The Morgan’s campus encompasses four architecturally and historically important buildings: J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library (1906), the Annex (1928), the Morgan House (1852), and an addition designed by Renzo Piano (2006).
It has an annual operating budget of approximately $25 million with a core staff of around 120 full-time and 70 part-time employees. It welcomes some 250,000 visitors annually and offers a robust schedule of exhibitions, lectures, musical performances, educational programs, and special events. The Morgan also houses the renowned Thaw Conservation Center, the Sherman Fairchild Reading Room, and the Drawing Institute, serving scholars and researchers from around the world.
Reporting to the Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, the Acquavella Curator leads the Modern and Contemporary Department and is responsible for the Morgan’s growing collection of modern and contemporary drawings. Along with an assistant/associate curator and a part-time administrative assistant, and in consultation with the Director, the Acquavella Curator conceives and implements exhibitions, publishes scholarly research, pursues acquisitions, participates in audience development and fundraising, and helps facilitate access to the collection for researchers, students, and the general public. The Acquavella Curator is a leader in the field, well-regarded among peers, and comfortable participating in a wide range of activities related to modern and contemporary drawings. They are skillful in relating to varied constituencies inside and outside the Morgan; adeptly articulating the relationship of modern and contemporary drawings within the overall collection. Departmental strategic planning, donor relations, and staff supervision and mentoring are important responsibilities of this position.
Essential Functions for the Acquavella Curator Include:
- Define collection strategy and oversee the growth of the collection of modern and contemporary drawings by identifying, researching, and proposing works for acquisitions (through purchase and gifts).
- Research and interpret the collection.
- Conceive and organize exhibitions of modern and contemporary drawings either from the collection or through loans from other institutions and private collections.
- Write/edit/contribute to exhibition catalogs and other publications related to the collection.
- Cultivate collectors, artists, donors, and other patron groups, working with the Development Department, the Modern and Contemporary Drawings Visiting Committee, and the Director.
- Collaborate with the Education Department and Morgan’s Drawing Institute in the organization of public and scholarly programs around the collection and exhibitions.
- Collaborate with the Communications and Marketing Department in the promotion of exhibitions and programs, both in-person and virtual.
- Work closely and collaboratively with other curatorial staff and departments, particularly Drawings and Prints, Photography, Conservation, Exhibitions and Collections Management, Publications, and Development.
- Hire and supervise Assistant/Associate Curator and Administrative Assistant, as well as fellows and interns from time to time. Effectively mentor members of the department and, in collaboration with the Department of Drawings and Prints, fellows in the Morgan Drawing Institute.
QUALIFICATIONS & CHARACTERISTICS
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
- Expertise in 20th and 21st century European and American art history and a strong knowledge of earlier art historical periods
- Familiarity with the world of modern and contemporary art (artists, collectors, dealers) and the current market for modern and contemporary drawings
- Established track record in organizing exhibitions
- Established track record in stewardship, cultivation, and collection growth
- Excellent writing and speaking skills
- Ease and enthusiasm in interacting with members, donors, collectors, and the public
- Commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in collection development, programming, among personnel, and in outreach
- Collaborative disposition and decision-making process
- Ability to work on several short-, mid-, and long-term projects at once and to manage overlapping deadlines; comfortable managing occasionally shifting priorities and individual and institutional needs
- Proficiency with the Windows environment (particularly Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Gmail, and Google Drive. Familiarity with museum database systems such as TMS is highly desirable
- Willingness to embrace routine and essential administrative tasks
- Ability to travel for research, colloquia, or courier trips
Education and Experience:
- PhD (preferred) in art history with a specialization in modern and contemporary art
- Record of publications and exhibitions in the field of modern and contemporary art
- Strong curatorial experience
- Familiarity with New York City and its art ecosystem, including interfacing and negotiating with galleries, is advantageous
- Direct and matrix-style management experience are a decided plus
LOCATION AND COMPENSATION
This is a permanent, full-time position in New York City with a targeted starting salary range of $125,000 - $150,000.
Some travel (domestic and international, three or four times a year) to see collections and exhibitions, for loan courier trips and to meet with colleagues in connection with research on the collection and for the organization of exhibitions and other projects.
Office environment; research in libraries; visits to collectors, dealers, other museums
- Standing for extended periods of time
- Sitting at a desk/computer for sustained periods
- Occasional lifting of boxes of drawings and framed art works
APPLICATIONS, INQUIRIES, AND NOMINATIONS
Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. Inquiries, nominations, referrals, and CVs with cover letters should be sent in confidence to:
Sarah James and Claire Hennessey