Associate Curator / Curator of African Art

Curatorial Staff

The Cleveland Museum of Art seeks a highly motivated curator of African art. 

In the 1920s and ‘30s, the Cleveland Museum of Art became one of the first art museums in the United States to collect and exhibit traditional African art. Several objects collected during this period were included in the landmark exhibition, African Negro Art, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, NYC in 1935; a reduced version of that exhibition traveled to Cleveland in the same year. Today, Cleveland’s African art collection includes about 300 works of tradition-based art from Africa south of the Sahara. The core of this collection is comprised of a diverse selection of masks and figure sculptures from West and Central Africa donated to the museum in the 1960s and ‘70s by the late Cleveland collector, Katherine C. White.  The past fifteen years represent a time of significant growth, including the addition of a distinguished ensemble of thirty-four Congolese sculptures that was acquired through a gift-purchase arrangement from the Brussels collectors René and Odette Delenne.

The museum is seeking candidates who possess a broad familiarity with the history and current trends in the field of African art. Of particular interest will be candidates who are committed to actively and creatively participating in the exhibitions program and originating projects ranging from ambitious, international loan exhibitions, to focused projects illuminating an object or small group of objects in the collection. The successful candidate will have a strong interest in object-based art history, issues of connoisseurship, and experience in the acquisition of works of art. 

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Proposing ideas for exhibitions, publications, and gallery rotations and working in cooperation with the Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Publications to develop projects.
  • Working together with colleagues in the Department of Education and Academic Affairs on programs and didactic materials related to exhibitions. Leveraging opportunities to utilize electronic means to interpret the African art collection.
  • Pursuing scholarly research to support the collection, acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, and gallery installations.
  • In consultation with the Museum Director and/or Chief Curator reviewing and changing as necessary the current plan for the development of the collection and acquiring major works of art through purchase and donation.
  • Working in close cooperation with the Department of Conservation to ensure that the works of art in his/her care are properly conserved when treatment is needed.
  • Collaborating with colleagues in Advancement to identify and nurture potential donors for projects related to the collection and exhibitions.
  • Working with and cultivating collectors of African art. 
  • Participating in the activities and programming of the museum’s affiliate group, Friends of African and African-American Art.
  • Candidates may choose to participate in the joint program in Art History and Museum Studies offered by Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the Cleveland Museum of Art as an adjunct faculty member and supervising interns from CWRU and other colleges and universities.

A Ph.D. in Art History is preferred with a specialization in traditional or historical African art; preference will be given to candidates with a minimum of two years of museum experience. Proficiency in English is required; knowledge of French and/or German is encouraged. Candidates will be judged on their excellence and promise, curatorial and scholarly record, and interpersonal and communication skills. Ability to work as part of a team in a highly collaborative environment is essential, as is basic supervisory experience. Excellent written and oral communication skills are essential, as is an ability to work with databases, word processing, and other computing tools that the staff is expected to use on a regular basis. Compensation commensurate with experience and qualifications. A full range of benefits accompanies this position. Candidates from outside the United States are welcome to apply.

Letters of application must include the following:

  • A cover letter that addresses the candidate’s interest in the position
  • A published paper or writing sample
  • A complete curriculum vitae of education, employment, honors, awards, lectures, and publications
  • The names of three references and their contact information

Please forward your documentation to careers [at] clevelandart.org