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Research Associate – The Arts of Oceania
Research Associate - The Arts of Oceania
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Post Date: 17 Nov 2021


About the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents over 5,000 years of art from all cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

The Met’s collection of Oceanic art comprises over 2,800 works that reflect the rich history of creative expression and innovation that is emblematic of the region. Highlights of the Oceania collection include monumental architecture from the diverse cultural groups of New Guinea and a spectacular range of ceremonial sculpture from the coastal archipelagoes that surround it. These exceptional artworks tell a wealth of stories relating to origins and ancestral power, performance, and initiation. They include some of the greatest achievements of Pacific Islanders in the realm of the visual arts: elaborately carved ancestral figures from ceremonial houses and spectacular ritual regalia such as towering slit drums, skull reliquaries, and dazzling turtle shell masks from the coastal regions. Voyaging and the arts of navigation are another important feature with decorated paddles, exquisitely carved canoe prows from the Solomon Islands, and a navigational chart from the coral atolls of the northern Pacific, evoking the extraordinary story of voyaging—both literal and metaphorical—across the vast landscape of Oceania from the earliest migrations of its peoples five thousand years ago to final settlement in the farthest extremities of the region in 1200 A.D. The collection also includes art from the two neighboring regions of Australia and Island Southeast Asia, whose indigenous peoples share a common ancestry with Pacific Islanders.

The Met is in the midst of a major capital project to re-build and re-imagine the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, home of the galleries in which the Arts of Oceania are presented. The opening of the Wing in 1982 marked a radical expansion of the canon of art then presented by the museum, and created critical momentum in raising the profile of Oceanic art for U.S. and international audiences. Now forty years later, we are seizing the opportunity to re-envision the galleries whilst critical upgrades to building infrastructure are carried out. For the past six years, our curatorial team has worked in close partnership with wHY Architects to carefully rethink the presentation of the collections. We began deinstalling the galleries in January 2021 and the scheduled date for reopening is Fall 2024. A crucial goal of the re-presentation is to include commentary from indigenous Pacific collaborators including visual artists, writers and poets, scholars, community leaders and cultural practitioners. The renovation will significantly re-frame the collection, foregrounding fundamental aspects of the conceptual landscape of the region and the creativity of its artists through the compelling lenses of global history, agency, indigenous storytelling, Pacific oratory and performance.


This multi-year full-time position will provide research support for the Curator of Oceanic art and professional development for a candidate seeking a curatorial career in museums and/or art galleries. The Research Associate will provide critical research support for exhibition and installation didactics, in-gallery videos and digital content for the new Oceania galleries. The Research Associate will work alongside the Curator of Oceanic art, and liaise closely with other members of the curatorial, conservation and collections teams in the Rockefeller Wing as well as colleagues working in a range of departments across the Museum (including Design, Digital, Editorial, Imaging, Education and Met Live Arts). The selected candidate will have an exceptional opportunity to advance the visual and conceptual re-framing of the Museum’s collection of Oceanic art in light of recent advances in scholarship and museological discourse, gaining experience under the mentorship of the Curator of Oceanic art.


  • Research works of art in the collection that will feature in the new galleries and update the museum’s collections database
  • Provide support with drafting gallery texts for objects, case labels, and sub-section commentaries
  • Research, write and edit entries for new extended web labels and online features
  • Assist with periodical, image, and documentary film research for digital and AV components for the new installation
  • Assist with contextual image management for the new installation
  • Provide support with updating presentations and research materials for on-going consultation and dialogue with Pacific interlocutors and collaborators
  • Coordinate interdisciplinary conversations and recordings with Pacific interlocutors and collaborators for new in-gallery digital storytelling and AV components
  • Liaise with Pacific interlocutors and collaborators including scholars, public figures, contemporary artists, and cultural practitioners
  • Liaise with Digital Department in the planning and production of digital assets including Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History and online blogs
  • Act as liaison with Education in planning of events
  • Assist with planning and outreach to Pacific communities in U.S. and New York area
  • Assemble history timelines and maps for Oceania projects
  • Develop content for social media updates, online blogs
  • Other related duties as needed


Fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine (or approved for an exemption as a reasonable accommodation due to a disability, sincerely held religious belief, or pregnancy, or because you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sex offenses).

Experience and Skills:

  • Related curatorial experience required
  • Outstanding research skills with proven follow-through
  • Excellent organizational and planning skills; strong attention to detail
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and to exercise initiative

Knowledge and Education:

  • Advanced degree required in Art History or Anthropology, including Oceanic art, Native or Indigenous art, and/or Museum Studies
  • Knowledge of art history required
  • Fluency with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) required
  • Good working knowledge of a Pacific language preferred, or French/German


New York, USA

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