Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History seeks a Chief Curator.

Home to the largest collection of Roger Tory Peterson’s work, RTPI is a leader for the study, exhibition and nurturing of art that matters to the planet. Through world class exhibitions and programs, RTPI illuminates the beauty of nature; challenges us to confront environmental issues of regional, national and global concern; and inspires us to preserve the earth’s biodiversity – with a particular emphasis on the natural area wonders of Western New York.

About the Chief Curator Position: Roger Tory Peterson’s unique and most widely-known contribution to the arc of the American Conservation Movement is the modern field guide. His artwork for the field guides – reminiscent of Japanese scroll ink paintings in the haiga tradition, “the essence of graphic minimalism guided by the…principle of expressing the most by means of the least” – facilitated quick and easy identification in the field. The experience of using the field guide helped millions of people across the globe really see the natural world. To be inspired by it. To fall in love with it.

Under the leadership of a new CEO and a reenergized board of directors, RTPI seeks its first-ever Chief Curator to help to guide RTPI’s vision as a living embodiment of the Peterson guide – a trusted source of information, inspiration and illumination about the natural world; a gateway to the natural area wonders that inspired Roger to his career as one of the world’s premier artist-naturalists and international ambassador for the protection of nature.

Building upon Peterson’s legacy, the primary responsibility of the Chief Curator is to curate exhibitions and related programming to reveal the beauty and wonder of nature; to foster awareness and understanding of the threats to nature; to empower and inspire creative solutions for healing nature.

In addition to being experienced in developing and managing dynamic exhibitions and related programs, the ideal candidate must be comfortable working both independently and collaboratively within a small, close-knit team. They must be extremely detail oriented, excel at time and project management, and embody a collaborative spirit among board, staff, volunteers, partner organizations and the public.

A demonstrated passion for the natural world, as well as for art, is a must.

Curatorial Responsibilities: The Chief Curator shall guide all curatorial activities, including RTPI exhibitions, programs and the Peterson Collection. They shall serve as the in-house curatorial expert and a key spokesperson for elevating RTPI’s national reputation among artists, conservationists and scholars in these and related fields.

RTPI typically hosts three special exhibitions per year. Negotiations are underway for RTPI to host one or more major annual/biennial exhibitions in partnership with national organizations. Each special exhibition fills the entire museum, comprised of several gallery spaces. Exhibitions may extend to RTPI’s outdoor spaces and its 27-acre preserve. Exhibitions may extend to popup locations, i.e., storefronts in downtown Jamestown.

  • Specific curatorial responsibilities include:
  • Develop three- to five-year exhibition plan
  • Develop and manage the implementation of the annual exhibition plan
  • Supervise the development and delivery of a robust schedule of exhibition programming
  • Produce/supervise copy for exhibition signage, publications, promotions and social media, etc.
  • Supervise installation and deinstallation for each exhibition
  • Supervise management of the Peterson Collection

Management Responsibilities: The Chief Curator reports to the CEO and works collaboratively with the entire staff. Direct reports to the Chief Curator include the Assistant Curator (FT), the Education and Program Manager (FT-to be hired) and the Peterson Collections Manager (PT.) The curatorial team, led by the Chief Curator, consists of the Assistant Curator, Peterson Collections Manager, the Director of Science and Education, the Education and Program Manager and the CEO.

Specific management responsibilities include:

  • Manage the curatorial team’s activities in accordance with the strategic plan and approved budgets
  • Staff the Collections and Exhibitions Committee
  • Work collaboratively with staff and board on fundraising events
  • Assist in the preparation of materials for grant proposals and reports, related to curatorial activities, exhibitions and programs
  • Participate in staff meetings, program team meetings and board meetings; other scheduled meetings with funders or professional colleagues as requested

Desired Skills/Qualifications:

  • Minimum Master’s Degree in Art History or related discipline
  • Minimum five years of professional curatorial or museum experience, overseeing staff and working with a permanent collection preferred
  • Ability to organize, present and communicate messages effectively through design
  • Creative thinker/stickler for details
  • Ability to manage simultaneous priorities and meet deadlines
  • Passion for cultivating a creative, professional work environment
  • Exceptional research and interpretation skills
  • Excellent oral, written, and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to maintain a flexible work schedule
  • Ability to mentor junior staff

Salary range: $65,000 to $75,000. RTPI offers a competitive salary and a generous benefits package, including health, vision and dental insurance and an employer-funded 403(b) retirement plan.

Job classification: full-time; salary

To apply: Send your applications materials to [email protected] and include "Chief Curator" on the subject line. Only those applicants we feel are strong potential fits will be contacted. Due to the high volume of applications we anticipate, we will not be able to respond to phone calls or emails.

RTPI is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees and to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment. All employment decisions at RTPI are based on organization needs, job requirements and individual qualifications, without regard to race, color, religion or belief, family or parental status, or any other status protected by laws or regulations. RTPI will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on any of these characteristics.

For more information, visit https://rtpi.org/were-hiring-a-chief-curator/We plan to start contacting candidates for interviews the week of March 22.

Posted: March 1, 2021

Support OMA with your
tax-deductible donation!

A contribution to the Ohio Museums Association will help us continue to provide important programs and services to Ohio’s Museums.