Astor Curator and Department Head of Printed Books and Bindings

(Full-time)

The Morgan Library & Museum seeks an ambitious, experienced and outgoing curator to lead its Department of Printed Books and Bindings. The Astor Curator and Department Head stewards and interprets the Morgan’s renowned printed book collection, which extends from the invention of printing to modern first editions. Subject strengths include incunables, fine bindings and printing, illustrated books, children’s books, association copies, and notable publications of major authors in England, France, and America. Among the highlights are three Gutenberg Bibles, a remarkable run of Aldines, Grolier bindings, French book illustration 1700 to 1914, World War I poetry, Man Booker Prize fiction, and the Carter Burden collection of American literature.

The Astor Curator will conceive, initiate, and execute exhibitions and projects, including sophisticated and compelling exhibitions from the Morgan’s own holdings, exhibitions based primarily on loans from other institutions, and traveling exhibitions. The Astor Curator will be responsible for overseeing the long-term growth, preservation, and documentation of the collection and for supporting the work of outside researchers, and will be an advocate for the collection and the mission of the Morgan, building understanding of the collection through new scholarship, public programs, publications, and digital projects.

The Astor Curator will be a dynamic leader in the field, known and well-regarded among peers, who is comfortable and happy participating in activities on- and off-site related to the rare-book world. They will be able to move easily between scholarly work and engagement with the Morgan’s various communities. The Printed Books and Bindings department has a sizable acquisitions budget and candidates should be expert in developing collections and comfortable making strategic acquisitions through both purchases and gifts.  

Candidates must have excellent donor-cultivation skills and be eager to forge strong relationships with collectors and donors, and to serve as liaison to the department’s Visiting Committee. The ideal candidate will be an articulate ambassador for the Morgan in the scholarly community and with donors and the general public.

The position oversees a staff of two associate curators.


The Morgan Library & Museum is committed to diversity and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. The Morgan strongly encourages applicants with a demonstrated commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in programming, outreach, hiring, and collection development.

Responsibilities: 

Specific duties include:

  • Exhibitions, Programming, and Publications
  • Propose and organize exhibitions that highlight the collection and tell stories that deepen engagement with the material in innovative ways.
  • Secure loans or exhibitions organized by other institutions that help bring attention to the Morgan’s mission and collections.
  • Develop public programs and events in collaboration with other Morgan staff to promote awareness and understanding of the collection and to bring attention to the  contemporary relevance of the collection’s holdings in diverse ways.
  • Develop publications and digital projects to accompany exhibitions and programs.
  • Collections Stewardship and Scholarly Access

Identify and implement strategic acquisitions for the department.

  • Oversee and prioritize departmental activities related to the collection, including research, care, storage and conservation initiatives.
  • Build and maintain active relationships with booksellers and auction houses, staying abreast of acquisition opportunities for the collection.
  • Build and extend networks with other museums, libraries and collections.
  • Support the work of outside researchers. 


Departmental Management

  • Mentor and manage a professional departmental staff and foster a culture of excellence and collaboration.

External Relations

  • Cultivate and help secure external support for the department, in conjunction with the Director and the development staff.
  • Serve as an ambassador for the Morgan’s Printed Books and Binding collection on- and off-site, and enthusiastically attend events at the Morgan and in the community with collectors, book dealers, scholars, professional colleagues, the press and members of the general public.
Qualifications: 
  • Seven to ten years’ experience working with and cataloguing primary materials in libraries or other special collections.
  • A notable record of exhibition and publication development; experience with exhibition loans and traveling shows desirable.
  • Knowledge of the antiquarian book trade and experience with acquisitions and building special collections. Strong network and contacts with book dealers and auction houses preferred.
  • Graduate degree in relevant field, PhD preferred.
  • Strong liberal-arts foundation, especially in Western European and American literature and history. A broad generalist with primary expertise in the 16th – 18th centuries preferred.
  • Knowledge of printing history and analytical bibliography. Familiarity with the care and handling of rare books.
  • Demonstrable experience working with donors and identifying funding sources.
  • Experience managing staff and a track record of mentorship, collaboration and teamwork.
  • Ability to interpret literary, historical and bibliographical scholarship for the general public.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues, researchers, students, and critics. Strong writing and public speaking skills. 
  • Experience with OCLC and online cataloging systems such as Voyager in a special collections environment.
  • Reading knowledge of Latin and at least one other foreign language (French, German, Italian). 

Personal Characteristics

  • Dynamic leadership skills, a person who is confident and resourceful and able to inspire others.
  • Has a collaborative work style, comfortable sharing credit and resources with peers and other staff to fulfill the Morgan’s mission; able and interested in mentoring staff.
  • Passionate about the world of printed books and special collections and eager to foster broader interest in the field for museum visitors.
  • Able to juggle many balls at once, concurrently setting priorities, meeting short-term deadlines, and pursuing long-term goals and initiatives.
  • Comfortable at and enjoys social interactions with members, donors and collectors.
Compensation: 

Competitive salary; excellent benefits.

To apply: 

Nominations welcome.

Qualified candidates should email their cover letter, résumé or CV (Word documents preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by July 15, 2019 to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference, SearchandRef@museum-search.com. New applicants only. Apply in confidence. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant. For additional information, visit: www.museum-search.com/open-searches/

The Morgan is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed (religion), color, sex (including gender expression), national origin, sexual orientation, military status, age, disability, marital status or domestic violence victim status.