Assistant, Associate, or full Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art

Posted by
Published 22 days ago

Job Announcement - Assistant, Associate, or full Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston functions as an integrated visual arts experience centered in one of the nation’s great cities. Counted amongst North America’s largest museums, MFAH has permanent collections spanning more than 6,000 years of history with 64,000 works from six continents. The main campus encompasses 14 acres in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, with buildings contributed by world-renowned architects housing permanent collections; 450,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition spaces; a variety of horticultural features and visually stunning gardens, fountains and outdoor exhibition areas; restaurants and arts-themed retail shops; school, classrooms, research and lecture hall facilities; archives, libraries and conservation facilities; and administrative offices. During most of the transformative Campus Redevelopment that has been in process since 2012, annual attendance reached a high of 1.25 million despite significant construction.  

Houston stands among America’s largest cities by population and area, is incredibly diverse racially and ethnically, and is an economic powerhouse with a very strong arts ecosystem that attracts over 7 million visitors alone to the Museum District where MFAH is centered. MFAH employs over 663 permanent and temporary staff funded solely by MFAH. 400 docents support the educational mission, and 1,500 volunteers support a broad range of MFAH activities.


The Position Summary:

Working in close cooperation with the Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, this curator will be a key member of the entire curatorial team, working closely with the director and colleagues to conduct research, plan installations, organize exhibition projects, enrich the permanent collection, develop interpretive materials, participate in community outreach and communications, and uphold the MFAH’s commitment to diversity, equity, access and inclusion (DEAI), to advance the mission of the MFAH. 

This position offers an opportunity to build upon the Museum’s historic role in producing innovative exhibitions, publications and programs in modern and contemporary art. Essential functions and responsibilities will include: 

·        To propose acquisitions of modern and contemporary art, especially but not exclusively by African Americans and members of the African Diaspora.

·        To collaborate on presentations of the permanent collection and special exhibitions, and to conceive and execute new projects within the candidate’s area of expertise. 

·        To work closely with local and national collectors, especially the Museum’s African American Art Advisory Association (5A), a special patron group that has been a vital part of the Museum’s activities over the past thirty years.

·        To act as an ambassador of the Museum and to represent the Museum locally, nationally, and internationally.


General Departmental Requirements:

·        To serve as an integral resource to internal and external constituencies on matters of scholarship related to modern and contemporary art.

·        To collaborate with internal and external curators, Learning and Interpretation staff, and MFAH exhibition designers in the creation of program content, and with Marketing and Communications staff to expand audiences and support for the collection, exhibitions and programs.

·        To collaborate with Development staff to identify appropriate funding opportunities, cultivate potential individual prospects, formulate strategies, and assist with grant applications, to build and steward the MFAH’s strong donor base, and to lead initiatives to secure financial resources for programs. Works closely with affinity groups, advises on programs, and participates in their activities.

·        To champion the MFAH’s strategic initiatives and vision, providing enthusiastic leadership that strengthens the organization and supports a positive workplace culture.

·        To provide gallery talks, lectures, and other presentations for various audiences including the general public, MFAH membership, MFAH affinity groups, and the scholarly community on topics relating to the collection and programs. May create opportunities with local colleges and universities for teaching from the collection.

·        To foster relationships with members of the public including scholars, critics, community groups, and other relevant audiences in encouraging interest in the MFAH, its collections, and its mission.

·        To participate in regional and national professional communities and organizations in order to enhance the general and scholarly understanding of the MFAH, its collections, and its mission.

·        To perform special projects and other related duties as required, directed, or as the situation dictates.


·        To establish partnerships with colleagues and outside institutions to promote exhibition opportunities.

·        To present the Museum’s exhibitions and traveling exhibitions to the MFAH Exhibitions Committee and other staff committees.

·        To collaborate across all departments to coordinate logistics for exhibitions and related publications, including contracts, loan agreements, rights and reproductions, packing and shipping, design and installation, editing, publicity, and fundraising.



·        To collaborate with curatorial colleagues and work with advisory committees to establish collection priorities.

·        To foster and maintain positive relationships with collectors locally and nationally, actively soliciting their help in enhancing the collection.

·        To foster and maintain positive relationships with artists and their dealers.

·        To research works recommended for acquisition and present these recommendations to the appropriate Museum committees.

·        To maintain on-going research of works in the collection, ranging from art historical documentation and interpretation to conservation issues.

·        To contribute to collection publications and on-line collection resources.



Assistant curator, associate curator, or curator, commensurate with career experience.


Supervisory Responsibilities 

This is considered a role of influence and leadership. The curator may directly supervise and mentor interns and volunteers and indirectly guide and lead support staff and associates throughout the organization. As directed, will also participate in interviewing and selection, training and development, scheduling, and evaluating performance.


Required Qualifications: 

Education and Experience 

·        M.A. or Ph.D. in Art History or a related field (American Studies, Anthropology, History, Museum Studies, etc.) required with at least 3 years of museum, gallery, or related professional experience.

·        Knowledge of foreign language(s) strongly preferred.

·        Extensive publication history strongly preferred.


Skills, Knowledge and Abilities 

·        Broad knowledge of art history with emphasis on modern and contemporary art.

·        Expertise in pre-1950s African American and African-diasporic art history.

·        Advanced research skills and clear, lucid writing style demonstrated through scholarly accomplishments.

·        Exemplary writing skills, compelling public speaking presence, and excellent oral communication skills.

·        Ability to communicate effectively and to establish, maintain, and foster positive and harmonious working relationships with a variety of individuals contacted in the course of work.

·        Proven ability to conceive and execute exhibitions, including exhibition development, publication development, and collection care.

·        Excellent problem solving, planning, and organizational skills, with the ability to execute multiple projects and responsibilities simultaneously in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.

·        Working knowledge of standard computer programs with demonstrated interest in and working knowledge of museum technologies, including in-gallery technological innovations and collection management software.

·        Ability to handle sensitive and confidential information with discretion.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands 

The majority of work is performed in a normal office environment not subject to extremes of noise, temperature, odor, etc. Regular attendance on campus required with intermittent telework options available.  

Ability to operate computer, printer, photocopier, fax machine, and other office equipment. Work involves extended sitting and computer use. Ability to work flexible hours so that evening and weekend work for special events can be accommodated. Some local, regional, national, and international travel may be required.


Work and Culture at the MFAH - Benefits Offered  

·        Medical, Vision and Dental Insurance,

·        Life and Long Term Disability Insurance,

·        MFAH Retirement Savings Plan (403b),

·        Flexible Spending Plans,

·        Paid Time Off, Reserve Time Off, Volunteer Time Off, Holiday Pay,

·        Museum Membership and Discounts 

The MFAH has extensive COVID mitigation protocols in place to provide for a safe working environment, including: 

·        Masks required at all times;

·        Plexiglas partitions for staff members who do not work in offices;

·        Temperature checks at entrances;

·        Onsite COVID testing for staff who work in close contact with colleagues or visitors;

·        Sanitizing stations;


Equal Opportunities for All 

At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston we believe that diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity are fundamental to our organization. We welcome all candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our organization and to our pledge for workplace diversity, inclusion, and excellence. 

Our commitment to our policy and practice of nondiscrimination represents more than good intentions. It provides for employment decisions that are made without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, or veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law or any other reason unrelated to your ability to join and contribute to our organization and support our mission to provide a museum experience for all. 

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is equally committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals interested in employment with the organization. As part of this commitment, we want to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation needed to 1) participate in the job application or 2) interview process; 3) perform essential job functions; and/or 4) participate in the benefits and privileges of employment with the MFAH. If reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact the human resources department:

How to Apply / Contact  

·        Please visit our site

·        Click on All Current Employment Opportunities or the link below –

·        Locate this posting and submit your resume or CV, cover letter and list of professional references for immediate consideration.


Job Announcement - Assistant, Associate, or full Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston functions as an integrated visual arts experience centered in one of the nation’s great…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Education
    Master's Degree Required
  • Professional Level


1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, USA

How to Apply

Join Idealist

Sign up today to save your favorite jobs and get email alerts when new ones are posted.