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Curator of Arts and Social Practice
Curator of Arts and Social Practice
The Obama Foundation
Post Date: 22 Aug 2022


About The Obama Foundation

At the Obama Foundation, we are guided by a core belief: that ordinary people working together can change history. Our mission is to inspire those people to take action, empower them to change their world for the better, and connect them so they can achieve more together than they can alone.

We were founded by community organizers, so when we seek change, we do it by bringing people together.

That approach begins at home, on the South Side of Chicago, where we are building the Obama Presidential Center. The Center represents a historic opportunity for Chicago: a chance to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, steps away from where he began his career, where she was raised, and where—together—they made their home.

But that approach extends to all our work, whether it’s holding leadership training sessions in communities throughout the U.S., bringing local leaders together in countries around the world, working to support the global education of girls, or ensuring young men of color have pathways to opportunity.

As President Obama has said, “we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together.” So join us.

For more information, please visit www.obama.org.

Purpose of the Role

The Curator of Arts and Social Practice will play a key role in shaping and implementing the inaugural OPC Arts Plan, a comprehensive strategy for the arts at the Obama Presidential Center that helps inspire, connect, and empower people to change their world. You will work closely with the VP of OPC Strategic Initiatives and the Obama Foundation’s external art advisor to manage a robust portfolio of inaugural art commissions and installations across the campus. You will curate art exhibitions, develop community art activations, create art education programs, manage artwork acquisitions and loans, and support a variety of arts-related initiatives including fundraising and communications. Informed by cutting-edge museum and equity-based social practice, you will work collaboratively to articulate and implement the OPC’s interpretive, experiential, and collections development goals; and launch dynamic arts-related programs to attract, engage, and serve diverse audiences.

Core Job Responsibilities

Inaugural Art Commissions and Installations

  • Support the VP of OPC Strategic Initiatives in managing the work of the external art advisor to plan and implement a series of signature art commissions at the OPC. Responsibilities include project management, budgeting, contracting, and tracking of deliverables to ensure that all projects remain on schedule and within budget
  • Develop curatorial files and conservation instructions for all OPC art commissions. Coordinate with the collections team to develop an artwork maintenance program

Temporary Art Exhibitions and Activations

  • Create and implement a curatorial plan for arts exhibitions, including at the OPC and at offsite locations, that supports the Museum’s overall curatorial strategy and interpretive goals
  • Write and edit compelling and accurate curatorial content about OPC art projects for use on signage, website, and other editorial or publication uses as needed in coordination with the Foundation’s Creative & Communications Team

Arts-related Education and Programming

  • Develop and implement a robust series of community art activations and social practice activities (both pre-opening and on an ongoing basis), in collaboration with the Obama Foundation’s Community Engagement Team and external partners
  • Develop and launch an arts education program, in collaboration with future Education team colleagues.

Arts-related Activities and Partnerships

  • Project manage all arts-related initiatives, including planning and effectively coordinating ongoing meetings and activities; tracking, evaluating, and responding to all art-related inquiries received by the OPC (interested artists, galleries, etc.); maintaining contact database and files
  • Track, evaluate, and conduct research on all art objects under consideration for the OPC Museum collection, either through gift or purchase; Coordinate with Legal and Collections Team colleagues on all art commissions, acquisitions, and loans; serve on the Staff Collections Committee
  • In consultation with senior OPC Team colleagues and the Development Team, support the successful completion of the Arts Funding Plan and the management of the Arts Council; prepare art-related materials to support fundraising efforts for art at the OPC; draft and manage arts-related grant proposals on behalf of the OPC
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Key Deliverables / Outcomes

  • Creation and management of a comprehensive, multi-year OPC Arts Plan that supports the overall strategic goals of the OPC; including milestones and budgets for pre- and post- opening arts activations, innovative, engaging, and accessible inaugural exhibitions and arts projects, temporary exhibitions, and ongoing educational arts programming.
  • Effective management of the inaugural art commissions work plan and budget to ensure that all milestones are achieved on time and on budget, contracts and payments are tracked, fabrication and installation activities are coordinated with the construction team, and all project files are complete and accurate.
  • Timely and effective processing of all art donation offers, acquisitions, and loans
  • Launch of a compelling arts education program and pre-opening arts activation plan
  • Build meaningful partnerships with community organizations and peer institutions locally, nationally, and internationally

Required Qualifications

  • Professional track record of curatorial experience with a wide knowledge of and enthusiasm about contemporary art and social practice. Experience with public art is a plus. Demonstrated excellence in and innovative approach to conceiving and organizing exhibitions and artist-led programming
  • A working knowledge of contemporary art and social practice, as well as an understanding of interdisciplinary cultural production, is required
  • Exceptional project manager: effectively backwards plans long-term projects; investing, communicating with, and managing others to achieve objectives and meet deadlines; demonstrated organizational ability and experience creating and maintaining budgets and project schedules
  • Exceptional communication skills, both verbal and written, for a general audience and particularly with artists, donors, and lenders
  • Familiarity with presentation software (both Google Slides and PowerPoint) and word processing tools (both Google Docs and Microsoft Word)

Don’t check off every box in the requirements listed above? Please apply anyway! Studies have shown that marginalized communities – such as women, LGBTQ+ and people of color – are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. The Obama Foundation is dedicated to building an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace that fosters a sense of belonging – so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to still consider submitting an application. You may be just the right candidate for this role or another one our openings!

In the interest of employee health and safety during the pendency of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Obama Foundation is requiring that all prospective employees present proof that they are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, or seek a reasonable accommodation for religious or medical reasons, prior to their first day of employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The Foundation is committed to creating a diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. The Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, parental status, veteran status, or any other protected status under applicable laws. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply. If you are a qualified candidate with a disability, please e-mail us at [email protected] if you require a reasonable accommodation to complete this application.


Chicago, USA

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