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Posted: Friday, January 20th 2017
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Job Title:     The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles
Organisation:     Peabody Essex Museum
Salary:    
Type:     Full-Time Position
Location:     Salem, Massachusetts
Closing Date:     Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Job Ref No:    
 
Job Description:
The Peabody Essex Museum seeks a curatorial leader with deep experience in historical, modern and contemporary fashion and textiles and a track record of developing engaging exhibitions. The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles will be active in fashion circles, well versed in current developments in the field, and adept at teasing out connections between fashion, creativity, and culture.

Recently, PEM embarked on a paradigm-shifting transformation and expansion, in keeping with its ambition and promise as a museum that values creativity, innovation, change, and the unexpected. PEM’s curatorial team is adventurous and generates fresh interpretation, appreciation, and thought leadership related to art, culture, and creative expression, especially in the context of an increasingly interconnected and global dialogue. To this end, the museum seeks an innovative curator with experience specifically in fashion and textiles and a strong commitment to bold interpretation and programming.

BACKGROUND
Founded in 1799 in Salem, Massachusetts, 15 miles from Boston, the Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest continuously operating museum in the United States. Now among the top 8% of American art museums, PEM is also one of the nation’s fastest growing art museums and operates on a global stage in terms of networks, partners, and patronage.

PEM has achieved unprecedented growth over the past two decades. In 2003, PEM completed one of the most striking museum transformations in American history, including exponential growth of the operating budget and the addition of over 250,000 square feet of new and renovated gallery and public spaces. This includes 26,000 square feet of changing exhibition galleries and 55,000 square feet of galleries devoted to collection installations. In 2011, the museum announced a comprehensive and singular advancement campaign for $650M. The campaign focuses on increasing an already healthy endowment to support an expanded exhibition program; programmatic initiatives ranging from the interpretive to the digital and educational; global leadership initiatives; and an institutional culture of creativity, all in concert with fiscal stability and sound management, based on annual budget of $31 million.

PEM is adding a 40,000 square-foot wing scheduled to open in summer 2019. It will include 15,000 square feet of galleries for collection installations and additional public and educational spaces. The museum is also developing a 110,000 square-foot offsite collection center for the care and study of the museum’s collection of more than 1 million works. Between 2017 and 2022, PEM will develop new collection installations museum-wide, based on innovative experience, interpretation and design strategies that reflect the museum’s commitment to drawing on multiple fields of inquiry, including neuroscience.

The museum's many collection areas are among the finest of their kind, showcasing American, Asian and Asian export, African, contemporary, maritime, Native American, and Oceanic art, as well as photography, fashion and textiles, and architecture and design. The museum presents a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions, many organized by PEM teams and guest curators and circulated nationally and internationally, and others organized by leading museums in North America, Europe, and Asia. Annually, the museum welcomes 250,000 people. It employs 250 staff and engages over 110 docent guides in support of PEM’s educational mission.

CURATORIAL PROFILE
The Peabody Essex Museum has the highest visitor satisfaction ratings among 75 major museums in the United States, and PEM’s curatorial program is a key reason for this success. PEM’s curatorial approach emphasizes innovation, crisp execution, and close partnership across departments and with external, leading-edge thinkers in a range of fields. This provides significant opportunities for curators to leverage team resources and access to current trends and new developments in various fields. Nine full curators and five Exhibition & Research assistant and associate curators comprise PEM’s curatorial team. This team is purview of the Deputy Director, who functions as the Chief Curator and oversees Collection Services, Exhibition Planning, and Exhibition Design in concert with her executive and fundraising responsibilities.

FASHION AND TEXTILE COLLECTION AND PROGRAM
PEM holds an extraordinary collection of fashion, costumes, and textiles from around the world, primarily from the late 17th century forward. American fashion and textiles, in conjunction with PEM’s African, Asian export, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Native American, Oceanic and South Asian fashion and textiles, constitute a distinctive international collection of high overall quality.
The American textile and costume holdings have historically focused on New England. Fashion, accessories, jewelry, contemporary fiber art, pictorial needlework and samplers, quilts and coverlets, interior design, domestic furnishing textiles and upholstery, military uniforms, and documentary textiles comprise these holdings, which include many aesthetically significant examples and contain extensive documentation, which lends the collection exceptional research value. The American clothing collection, which dates primarily from 1820-1930, is among the ten best in the country. The shoe collection is the largest and most important in the U.S. and of international significance.

In 2009, the museum began a concerted fashion initiative, presenting major exhibitions and collecting 20th- and 21st-century fashion in earnest through major gifts and bequests from nationally and internationally recognized collectors, most notably Iris Apfel. Recently, PEM secured the endowment for a curatorial position dedicated to fashion and textiles and established a Fashion Visiting Committee.
Required Skills:
RESPONSIBILITIES
The new curator will play a pivotal role in shaping and implementing the museum’s forward-looking, team-based program in Fashion and Textiles. This will be accomplished primarily through innovative exhibitions, interpretation and programming, as well as through strategic enhancement of the collection and original research.

The primary responsibilities of the Curator will be to:
• Work with the Deputy Director and PEM’s curators to establish the direction, goals, and priorities for Fashion and Textiles at the Peabody Essex Museum.
• Organize exhibitions and secure exhibitions organized by other institutions. The focus will be exhibitions that offer fresh ways of interpreting and appreciating fashion and textiles and fostering a dialogue between historical and contemporary expressions.
• Organize collection-based installations that integrate engaging ideas and new interpretive methods, immersive experiences, and design as part of the museum’s team-based interpretation initiative. The initial emphasis will be developing the museum’s first gallery dedicated to fashion, scheduled to open in the new wing in 2019. The curator will also serve on other appropriate interpretation teams associated with the museum’s ongoing efforts to provide leadership in the arena of museum interpretation.
• Develop a systematic plan to strengthen PEM’s fashion and textile collection through strategic acquisitions of historical, modern and contemporary works, long-term loans, research, and conservation initiatives.
• Enhance and expand the museum’s international network and partnerships with museums to develop and secure opportunities to exchange exhibition projects, loans, and expertise.
• Cultivate and secure patronage for PEM’s fashion and textile initiatives and for the museum overall in collaboration with the museum’s philanthropy staff and Fashion Visiting Committee.
• Develop programs and events in conjunction with exhibitions and in collaboration with the education staff that emphasize new ways to provide immersive experiences with fashion and textiles;
• Serve as an advocate and representative for PEM’s mission, exhibitions, publications, research, programming, and collection, assuring that the museum’s reputation for innovation and scholarship are continually advanced. Sustain an international reputation and profile through publishing, lecturing, organizing or participating in symposia, membership in professional organizations, and other pertinent activities.

QUALIFICATIONS and PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS
The successful candidate will:
• Have substantial experience working with institutions with extensive collections of fashion and textiles and organizing compelling installations and exhibitions, including nationally and internationally traveling shows; experience with both historical and contemporary fashion and textiles is preferred; an established international network is highly desirable.
• Have an advanced degree in art history or cultural studies, and a specialty in fashion and textiles (a Master’s degree is required);
• Be an individual whose intelligence, creativity, and passion are palpable, peripatetic, generous, and infectious.
• Be an outcome-oriented, hard worker with initiative and high energy level; a “doer” with a willingness to work hands-on;
• Be a mission-driven individual with a commitment to PEM’s core values and transformative goals, open to experimentation and thinking “outside the box;” predisposed to juxtaposing ideas and objects in new and unexpected ways, including across disciplines and cultures, between different realms of creativity beyond the visual arts, and between the historical and contemporary;
• Be a good listener and strategist; comfortable receiving input from many sources, and able to analyze and formulate disparate information into sound, well-organized goals, strategies, and proposals; a partner able to flexibly collaborate with people of diverse areas of expertise, experience, cultures, and personalities; and a tactful negotiator;
• Be an individual with strong self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a good sense of humor.

ABOUT SALEM AND BOSTON

Salem and Boston North Shore cities and towns are among the country’s oldest coastal communities, including Salem, Newburyport, and Marblehead. The region has a 300-year history of art and architecture, and maritime activities are still an important part of the regional culture. Salem and nearby Gloucester offer numerous museums, art galleries, historic homes, theaters, parks, restaurants, boutiques and antique shops. Salem alone draws more than 1 million visitors a year. Boston is quickly accessible via a regular commuter train to North Station. New England’s bountiful outdoor recreational activities are quickly accessible, including sailing, hiking and skiing.
Boston is a world-class center for banking, health care and technology research. One of American’s leading intellectual centers, Boston boasts some of the most prestigious universities and medical centers in the world. It is also steeped in 400 years of history, which it preserves and celebrates, while maintaining many distinct and historic neighborhoods. As a metropolis, it is home to numerous attractions including museums, theatres, musical events and robust restaurant opportunities. The suburbs have some of the nation’s top-rated school systems. Boston is served by a strong public transportation system and offers outdoor recreation along the Charles River and Atlantic Ocean. Sports fans enjoy the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, as well as the soccer team, the Revolution.
 
Application Instructions:
PEM recruits internationally. A good command of the English language is required.

Nominations welcome.

TO APPLY FOR THIS POSITION
Qualified candidates should email their cover letter, résumé (Word documents preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by April 3, 2017 to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference, SearchandRef@museum-search.com. Apply in confidence. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant. PEM is committed to diversity among its employees and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.
 
Contact Name:     Marilyn Hoffman/Connie Rosemont
Contact Tel:    
Contact Fax:    
Contact Email:     searchandref@museum-search.com
Website:     http://www.museum-search.com
Address:     .
 
 

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