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Director of Curatorial Services - Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Williamsburg, VA

  • 10 Aug 2018 10:20 AM
    Message # 6460802
    ALHFAM Webmaster (Administrator)

    Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
    Williamsburg, Virginia
    Director of Curatorial Services

    The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (JYF) seeks an experienced, forward-looking leader to help guide the curatorial departments at both of its accredited museums: Jamestown Settlement and the newly opened American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. This important role will help guide the Foundation in the development and growth of its collection, contribute to the expansion of its educational mission, and deliver its program of special exhibitions. The Director of Curatorial Services (DCS) will lead the department’s initiatives to enhance inclusivity and share the stories of diverse peoples with ever-broader audiences; bring scholarly expertise to its public interpretation; and grow the Foundation’s reputation in Early American History.


    The position provides the opportunity to join a major forward-facing, visitor-focused museum that serves a large and diverse public and has a significant budget and big plans for the future. The DCS will help open a new chapter at the Jamestown Settlement, including providing curatorial input into a $9 million refresh of its main gallery, and will help steer an ambitious special-exhibition program. The DCS will also continue the momentum of the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with a series of special exhibitions leading up to the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. Commemorations of other upcoming local and national milestones are also planned. The DCS will supervise a 7-person team within an annual department operating budget of $500,000 (including salaries) and a new-acquisition budget of $900,000.


    Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown are nationally renowned, AAM-accredited living-history museums that explore the story of America’s beginnings, from the founding of the first permanent English colony in 1607 to the Revolution and the establishment of a new nation almost two centuries later.  Both feature engaging exhibition galleries, theaters—including the state-of-the-art, multi-sensory 4-D theater at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown—and activity-filled outdoor living-history areas focused on life in the 17th and 18th centuries. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown offers a national perspective, conveying the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution.  The planned renovation of the galleries at Jamestown Settlement will have an equally exciting impact and will take the Settlement in new interpretive directions. (Visit: https://www.historyisfun.org).

    The Foundation is the largest provider of museum-education programming in Virginia, providing on-site museum visits, educational outreach, teacher training, and curriculum materials to schools throughout Virginia and beyond.  In 2017-18, the museums served 202,136 students on site and 87,515 with outreach programs in 109 of the 132 school districts in Virginia.  Paid visitation, which includes domestic and international visitors, to both museums has ranged from 610,844 in 2017 to more than a million during the Jamestown 400 anniversary year in 2007.

    JYF is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia and also raises funds for programs, acquisitions, and endowments through its private affiliate Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc. The Foundation recently completed a $17-million campaign for the new Yorktown museum. The Foundation has a $20.5-million operating budget and employs about 500+ full- and part-time staff, augmented by an active volunteer group of around 1,500 people. 


    Williamsburg, the principal city in “America’s Historic Triangle” of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, offers exceptional educational, recreational and cultural amenities and a temperate climate.  It is home to Colonial Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary, many historic sites, streets, gardens, and churches, as well as good public schools, nearby theme parks, theaters, restaurants, shops, and antique stores.  Outdoor recreation is a regional draw with beaches, state parks, road races, bike trails, sailing, kayaking, birding, and golf.

    Centrally located in the Mid-Atlantic region, Williamsburg is 3½ hours from Washington and Baltimore and an hour from Richmond.  It is easily accessible via major highways and three airports.  The Hampton Roads region, the second-largest metropolitan area in Virginia and one of the more popular tourist destinations in the world, attracts over six million people annually and features the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk and The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. The region’s diverse economy is one of the nation’s strongest, and Williamsburg is a rapidly growing population center for young professionals, families, and retirees. Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are each only 3 miles from Williamsburg. 

    Visit www.visitwilliamsburg.com and https://www.virginia.org/regions/HamptonRoads/.

    Job Responsibilities

    • Oversee curators in the development and installation of permanent and temporary exhibitions that provide excellent, relevant, and educational museums that appeal to a diverse audience.
    • Oversee collection management and the registrar’s office, encompassing research, care, conservation, loans, and refinement of the collection.
    • Provide expertise for the outdoor living-history areas.
    • Identify and recommend collection acquisitions.
    • Represent the organization to external audiences including media, the board, and other institutions.
    • Organize and schedule departmental staff to maximize use of talent and efficiently meet JYF departments’ needs, schedules, and deadlines for multiple complex projects. 
    • Provide content advice and scholarly review for exhibition and project topics and themes, interpretations, labels, and publications to ensure the accuracy and cultural sensitivity of JYF presentations to its audiences.
    • With support from HR officers, supervise professional staff members in the department.
    • With support from financial and administrative officers, develop and manage department and project budgets.


    History and Academic Expertise and Abilities

    • The credentials and stature to engender respect from JYF’s curators, administration, board members, and outside colleagues and scholars.
    • PhD or the equivalent in related field preferred.  MA required.
    • Strong knowledge of 17th- and 18th-century American history, plus up-to-date expertise in JYF’s subject matter: the Jamestown Settlement era and the American Revolution and its aftermath.
    • An understanding of African cultural issues in early America, Virginia Indian history and the period of contact with settlers, and issues of cultural sensitivity in the field of historical interpretation today.
    • The ability to provide general overall academic oversight, to ensure accuracy and currency of exhibitions and interpretations, and to recognize when outside expertise is required.
    • Ability to enhance the international and academic profile of JYF online.
    • Strong network of professional contacts.
    • Track record of using current and innovative approaches to make history more accessible to a variety of audiences, while at the same time understanding that change may need to happen gradually and incrementally.
    • Knowledgeable about current approaches to history and eager to incorporate women’s and minority-groups’ stories.
    • A social, cultural, or public historian who uses objects to tell stories rather than to teach connoisseurship or material culture
    • Interest and experience in using approaches such as new media, theater, music and other techniques to interpret history.

    Management and Leadership Skills 

    • Excellent project manager. 
    • A strategic thinker; can look ahead, plan and manage multiple projects.
    • Experience, skills, and pro-activeness to allocate staff resources effectively to meet schedules and deadlines for multiple complex institution-wide projects.
    • Strong organizational skills.
    • Record of accomplishment in managing, motivating, and collaborating with staff members and teams.
    • Experience managing at least four professionals, and capable of overseeing several major curatorial projects simultaneously. 
    • Able to delegate appropriately and to follow up without micromanaging.
    • Understands managing people with different talents, personalities, and work styles
    • Collaborative; experienced at working with educators and interpreters, as well as curators.
    • Strong communication skills.
    • Enthusiasm and passion for history that will inspire staff and visitors.
    • Communicates well across departments and up and down the organizational structure.
    • Able to advocate for the department and staff members to the JYF administration.
    • Presents professionally to varied audiences.  Ability to present on camera about history is preferred.
    • Service-oriented. A desire to mentor staff, assist other departments, and provide a positive experience for visitors.
    • Can work successfully in a large state or government-run museum, historic site, or agency.  Knowledge of how such organizations operate, and ability to manage bureaucratic requirements is a plus.

    Museum and Curatorial Experience 

    • Minimum of five years’ experience as a curatorial administrator or senior curator managing people and major projects at a significant museum or related organization.
    • Experience at two or more history museums or historic sites is a plus.
    • Experience at a living-history museum or statewide history museum preferred.
    • Experience at a large organization is a plus, and if at a smaller organization, experience managing multiple departments. 
    • Can translate history to audiences in an engaging way.
    • Brings fresh, current, relevant ideas.  Can be a change agent to make history relevant and engaging to increase and expand visitation and enrich learning.
    • Can tell stories that visitors can connect with, not just present objects.
    • Strong background in exhibitions and collections management.
    • Familiar with and can oversee staff on the exhibition-development process, collection care, and loan and acquisition processes.
    • Has overseen, exhibited, and interpreted a significant collection.
    • Sufficient experience to jump into ongoing major exhibition projects; can get up to speed quickly and carry the projects forward.
    • Understands museum professional standards; able to maintain accreditation and ensure proper care and display of collections and loans. 
    • Familiar with current trends, issues, and best practices in the field, and will be an advocate for them in the museum and the community.
    • Desires to keep current by attending national or international conferences. 
    • A leader active in the field, who could speak at AAM, AASLH, ALHFAM and other conferences or would publish for the profession. 
    • Experienced in the basics of fundraising.
    • Ability to present persuasively on one’s projects at the board and state level.
    • A sociable personality and interest in fundraising and donor cultivation are assets.
    • Experience preparing grant proposals is desirable.


    • All applications and nominations are confidential.  Nominations, inquiries, and informal résumés may be submitted to retained search consultant Marilyn Hoffman, Museum Search & Reference, searchandref@museum-search.com.  See full job announcement at: www.museum-search.com
    • To formally apply, all candidates must submit a completed application on-line, including all requested information, at: https://virginiajobs.peopleadmin.com Applicants should upload a résumé and a cover letter that includes a list of 3 references and a salary requirement.  Electronic applications preferred by September 17, 2018, but open until position is filled.  EEO/AA/ADA.

An organization of people who bring history to life

ALHFAM • P.O. Box 16, Rochdale, MA 01542 - info@alhfam.org

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