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Curator, Contemporary Art
Curator, Contemporary Art
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Post Date: 30 Jan 2022


Position Summary

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is deeply committed to expanding the stories American Art can tell and believes wholeheartedly in the engaging and inspiring power of contemporary art and artists. Crystal Bridges seeks a nationally-recognized expert in American art from the 1960s to today to lead the contemporary art program for Crystal Bridges and the team of contemporary art curators. Demonstrating a passion for working with living artists and creating meaningful connections to diverse audiences through the creation of exhibitions, installations and projects with contemporary art and artists, along with programs and publications, the Curator, Contemporary Art will help shape the development of the Crystal Bridges contemporary art collection and collaboratively guide its presentation and interpretation in the larger context of the museums American art collection and 120-acre outdoor campus.

At Crystal Bridges, contemporary art experiences now encompass those at the Momentary, the museums satellite space for contemporary visual and performing arts, and are central to the entire institution. The Curator, Contemporary Art will work closely with curators of visual arts at the Momentary on the contemporary art program as presented across the museum complex and on the institutions projects with living artists. The Curator, Contemporary Art is envisioned as a flexible, experimental, creative, collaborative, and connected curator who thrives on community and public engagement and can successfully lead and manage teams to develop exhibitions, installations, special projects and residencies in the setting of a large museum.

Positions Principal Responsibilities

  • Contribute to a long-term strategic vision for the museum and for broad community engagement through exhibitions and projects with contemporary art and artists
  • Advance the museums collaborations with artists from the local and regional artist community as well as nationally and internationally.
  • Supervise the Crystal Bridges team of contemporary curators at the curatorial assistant, assistant curator and associate curator levels
  • Propose and present acquisitions to the Museums Art Committee
  • Develop and sustain key stakeholder relationships, including members of the Board of Trustees and donors to the museum
  • In partnership with colleagues in Development, identify and steward relationships with contemporary art collectors, gallerists, and other individuals to cultivate gifts of art as well as acquisition and funding opportunities
  • Provide leadership and vision for the museums Artist in Residency (AIR) programs
  • Partner with associated cultural organizations in the region such as CACHE, Northwest Arkansas Council, the Bentonville Fellowship, Bentonville Public Art Advisory Committee, and the University of Arkansas
  • Collaborate closely with departments across the museum and work integrally with the museums curatorial team, including curators of historical, modern and contemporary American art as well as architecture, craft and Native American art, and visual arts at the Momentary

Additional Responsibilities

  • Serve as a magnet and mentor for artists, scholars, and contemporary art collectors
  • Champion research, scholarship, and professional development with partner institutions, especially the University of Arkansas School of Art
  • Conduct research and contribute to catalogues and scholarly and popular journals when appropriate
  • Supervise guest curators in area of specialization, consultants and project support staff including curatorial assistants and interns, as required.
  • Represent Crystal Bridges locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, being an active member in the field as well as with the general public.
  • Develop and implement installation and interpretation plans for contemporary art and artists across the museum, in close collaboration with the Momentary, collections management, curatorial, education and exhibitions and interpretation team
  • Write and develop labels and texts for use in collection galleries and exhibitions
  • Work in close partnership with colleagues in education, exhibitions, and interpretation colleagues to develop and contribute to programs related to artists, the collection and special exhibitions, including, but not limited to, lectures, workshops, gallery presentations, digital and virtual programming, and in-gallery interpretation efforts

Minimum Qualifications

  • Excellent working relationships with collectors, donors, curatorial colleagues, scholars, and the art market
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including public speaking and writing for audiences ranging from the general public to international scholars
  • Strong research skills
  • Ability to meet deadlines and handle multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Demonstrated project management skills
  • Proficiency with standard office equipment including basic computer literacy (word processing, spread sheets, e-mail, etc.) telephone, fax and copy machines

Education, Training, and Traits

  • B.A. in Art History or a related humanities discipline (M.A. preferred) or equivalent experience as evidenced by publication of significant writing and the organization of distinguished exhibitions.
  • Demonstrated passion for contemporary art and artists, including local and regional artists, and for directions in the fields of contemporary art and museums
  • Demonstrated commitment to new methodologies for interpreting and exhibiting contemporary art and artists
  • Ability to interact respectfully, collegially, and professionally at all levels of responsibility
  • Ability and willingness to be a team player both within the department, and throughout the entire institution
  • Ability to maintain the highest ethics as they relate to all aspects of curatorial endeavors, and to understand and maintain the highest levels of confidentiality

Work Experience

  • Minimum of seven (7) to ten (10) years prior curatorial experience
  • Must have experience managing others, projects, and budgets and working with artists
  • Experience working in large museums and/or cultural institutions a plus

Physical Demands and Work Environment:

The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Physical demands: Position requires working in Museum Galleries for prolonged periods of time. This position requires standing, walking and climbing stairs, bending and stretching, and physical stamina to lift a minimum of 50 pounds unassisted. This position requires visual acuity to review written materials.
  • Work Environment: Work will be performed in an office environment and museum spaces. Additionally, strong communication skills and ability to interact politely and effectively with a wide range of Museum members, visitors, volunteers and staff. Effectively utilize museum communications and information systems.
  • Flexibility: Position requires ongoing flexibility in work hours due to events, staffing needs and other factors.

About Crystal Bridges

The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding American art. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by arts patron and chair of the museums board of directors, Alice Walton. Since opening to the public on 11-11-11, the museum has welcomed more than 5 million visitors and garnered 15,000 membership households. Some 280,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost.

Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house the galleries and amenities such as a restaurant, museum store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. In addition to the museums architecture, a Usonian house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was preserved, acquired, and moved to the museum grounds in 2015, and a rare Buckminster Fullers Flys Eye Dome was installed in 2017, both providing access to American architectural masterworks in a natural setting.

Sculpture and walking trails link the museum’s 120-acre grounds to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. A new entrance, elevator tower, and pedestrian bridge was added to the north side of the building in 2017, increasing access to the museums north lawn and newly enhanced North Forest Trail. More than 600,000 visitors a year utilize the museums five miles of walking trails.

Crystal Bridges permanent collection spans five centuries of American artworks from early America to the present, and is always free to view. Crystal Bridges is committed to telling broad and inclusive stories by acquiring and showcasing the highest quality works by artists underrepresented in art history and by conventional museum frameworks. Works such as Asher B. Durands Kindred Spirits, Gilbert Stuarts George Washington, Georgia OKeeffes Jimson Weed are displayed alongside contemporary artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Maya Lin, Fritz Scholder, Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Amy Sherald and represent some of the finest achievements in American art. The collection of nearly 4000 works continues to grow, while the museum also offers temporary exhibitions that complement the collection and can also reveal arts connections to principles of equality and justice.

Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. In 2019, more than 800 public programs and events were offered, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. Crystal Bridges stays connected online with the full collection available via eMuseum, an award-winning app, a podcast called Museum Way, all available for free, and many of the museums lectures such as the Distinguished Speaker Series are on Crystal Bridges YouTube channel. An online-learning initiative provides opportunities for students and teachers with arts-based courses, as well as SmartHistory with arts history videos and essays. Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program encourages and supports full-time scholarship that seeks to expand boundaries and traditional categories of investigation into American art and visual culture. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences. In addition, Crystal Bridges administers the awarding of the Don Tyson Prize, an unprecedented award recognizing significant achievements in the field of American art. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at CrystalBridges.org.

About the Momentary

The Momentary is a new contemporary art space that opened to the public on February 22, 2020, in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. A satellite to Crystal Bridges, the Momentary presents visual, performing, and culinary arts. The mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary arts role in everyday life and explore the unfolding story of contemporary American arts in an international context by actively commissioning and exhibiting outstanding works that explore new ideas and inspire action. The Momentary was founded by the Walton family, based on the vision of Tom, Olivia, and Steuart Walton. The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this project as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas. The Momentary welcomes all with free general admission. Additional offerings include an artist-in-residence program, culinary experiences including an Onyx Coffee Lab, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, an outdoor festival space, and a gift store. For more information, visit theMomentary.org. The Momentary is located at 507 SE E Street, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.


Bentonville, United States

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