Houghton Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; Head, Division of Modern and Contemporary Art

Updated: 2 months ago


Harvard Art Museums


Job Summary

The Harvard Art Museums seeks a leader in the field to become the next Houghton Curator and the Head of the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art. Reporting to the Chief Curator, the Houghton Curator will engage in scholarly and public debates on the Harvard University campus and beyond, will inspire and guide, and will bring fresh perspectives into the narratives and presentations of the art of the 20th and 21st centuries both through their own scholarship and initiatives and through setting direction for the Mod-Con division. *Please note: This position will also take on the role of Division Head of Modern and Contemporary Art for a period of three years, which may be extended. Particulars will be discussed with candidates during the interview process.

Position Description

The Houghton Curator and Division Head will join the staff at the museums as they implement a broad, multi-year rethinking and reframing of the permanent collections and galleries, a key goal of the museums’ newly-formed five-year Strategic Plan. Working in a team environment, the curator promotes dialogue, engagement, and experimentation. The curator collaborates with colleagues across the museums, in particular in the two other curatorial divisions—European and American Art; Asian and Mediterranean Art—as well as the Division of Academic and Public Programs and the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. The curator will work closely with the curator of Prints and the curator of Drawings who are both situated in the Division of European and American Art. The Houghton Curator will seek programmatic partnerships across the Harvard campus and lead conversations on critical issues in contemporary art.

As Houghton Curator:
Make new acquisitions to diversify the collections and craft an ambitious exhibition, research and publication program; create exhibition checklists, propose and oversee loan requests and other exhibition-related project management, and public programs; work closely with students and faculty to foster significant and sustained curricular use of the collection for both undergraduate and graduate teaching; actively cultivate donors and supporters; in collaboration with development colleagues in Institutional Advancement, conduct outreach to individuals, foundations, and governmental agencies to raise funds for a range of museum priorities, including acquisitions, exhibitions, conservation, and publications; mentor and supervise postdoc curatorial fellows within the institution, as well as Division graduate interns and undergraduate student workers.

*As Division Head:
Lead the activities of the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art, including implementing aspects of the strategic plan; annual budget planning, preparation and submission; staff management, including performance management and goal-setting; exhibition planning for the division (with the Chief Curator and other colleagues); supervising provenance research on objects in the permanent collection and potential acquisitions; participating as a member of the Museums Management Team.

Basic Qualifications

Minimum of A.B.D. in Art History or related field, with expertise in modern and contemporary art; minimum eight years of progressively responsible curatorial, teaching, and/or field-related experience; supervisory experience.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

Significant progress on the dissertation or a PhD strongly preferred; academic museum experience and/or a commitment to fostering appreciation and understanding of modern and contemporary art through teaching is a plus; demonstrated work to support and implement institutional EDIB goals; experience working with donors, collectors, and museum patrons; excellent communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills, as well as fiscal management skills and experience.

Working Conditions

Harvard University supports a hybrid workplace model which will actively support some remote work. Specific days and schedules for on-site work and remote work will be discussed during the interview process. Please note hybrid workers must reside in a state where Harvard is registered to do business (CA, CT, GA, IL, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VA, VT, and WA).

Additional Information

Application and Additional Information:
There is an accelerated application timeline and applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by April 11, 2023. However, applications will continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Please submit a cover letter, CV, and list of three referees. Additional materials may be requested later.

Harvard University requires pre-employment screening.

The museums value staff diversity and are committed to building a culturally diverse community. We encourage candidates from underrepresented groups to apply.

The Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums—encompassing the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum—continually seek to expand their impact as a premier teaching institution and a dynamic part of the Boston cultural landscape, harnessing the strengths of its over 100-year history.

The museums are poised to launch the implementation of a five-year strategic plan, which centers EDIB values and ecological sustainability, and will encourage critical interventions into collection stories and histories; foster new research and museum-based teaching methodologies through campus-wide and community collaborations, and promote expanded audience engagement.

Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
The Division of Modern and Contemporary Art encompasses a global art collection dating from 1901 to the present day and includes more than 110,000 drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, installations, objects of decorative art and of time-based media. The Houghton Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art specifically oversees paintings, sculptures, works on paper including drawings and prints, objects, film and new media works.

Existing strengths in European modernism, especially cubism, surrealist sculpture, and social realism, provide important insights into the first half of the century. The collection also holds significant postwar examples of figurative work and mid-century abstract paintings and is especially strong in mid-century sculpture. The strength in works from the 1960s and ’70s lies in works on paper and by Fluxus artists. Building on important recent purchase and gift of works by Nam June Paik, there has been an evaluation of works in time-based and new media in the HAM’s collection. The collection of contemporary art, beginning around 1970, includes works that extend the Duchampian tradition of the readymade and the introduction of language into the visual arena as well as sculptures and installations by women artists from Latin America and the U.S.

Some areas of potential growth include modern and contemporary Asian art, works by living artists of the African diaspora, Latin American, Latinx and indigenous artists. A key focus of the Houghton Curator will be diversifying the representation of the U.S. experience.

Harvard University continues to place the highest priority on the health, safety and wellbeing of its faculty, staff, and students, as well as the wider community. Please note that all new employees will be required to provide confirmation of primary series COVID-19 vaccination upon hire, as detailed on our COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Webpage . Harvard University Health Services employees and other health care individuals are also required to be up to date on vaccination as described by the CDC. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. Additional information regarding this requirement, exemptions, verification of vaccination status, and other related policies and resources may be found on the University’s COVID-19 Information Website .


We invite you to visit Harvard’s Total Rewards website to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.

Department Office Location

USA - MA - Cambridge

Job Code

390061 Museum Manager

Work Format

Hybrid (partially on-site, partially remote)


00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Pre-Employment Screening

Criminal, Education, Identity


Full time. Monday through Friday. 35 hours per week. 

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Harvard University views equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. We strive to create a community that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent to unify excellence and diversity while fully embracing individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs, and values.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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