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Senior Curator of the Department of Photography

** As a condition of employment, the museum requires employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which includes an mRNA booster vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

Job Title: Senior Curator of the Department of Photography
Department: Department of Photography
Reports To: Ron and Donna Fielding Director
Status: Full time
Start Date: Immediately
Posting Dates: May 18 - until filled


The Senior Curator of the Department of Photography will lead the Department and report directly to the Director of the George Eastman Museum.  Candidates must have at least eight years' curatorial experience at one or more museums.


Strategic and General

As head of the Department of Photography and one of the members of the museum’s senior staff, the Senior Curator’s essential roles will include working closely with the museum’s director and staff to envision, develop, and implement strategies to achieve the following objectives:

  • Collaboratively develop long-term strategic plan for Department
  • Advance—through independent and collaborative projects—the museum’s contributions to, and leadership among museums in, the field of photography
  • Enhance the understanding, appreciation, profile, and accessibility of the Collection objects through exhibitions, publications, public programs, and online and in-person access
  • Broaden the museum’s relationships with and base of support among individuals, non-profit institutions, and governmental agencies
  • Coordinate with director and other departments to ensure the alignment of Department of Photography with the goals of museum
  • Collaboratively develop public programs, exhibitions, acquisitions, and departmental staffing, internships, and cooperative education to advance inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility
  • Participate in advancing the establishment of an Eastman Museum venue in Los Angeles
  • Develop and implement other strategic initiatives as agreed with the director

Collection Development

  • Develop relationships with collectors and artists that result in donations to the Collection
  • Develop a visionary plan to build the museum’s holdings of contemporary photographs, particularly works that fall within the field of contemporary-art photography
  • More broadly, strengthen the Collection, from the invention of photography through the present, with an emphasis on addressing gaps and weaknesses
  • Routinely travel to visit exhibitions, artists’ studios, private collections, galleries, and art fairs
  • Provide leadership, research, and expert advice to Photography Collection Committee in proposing and evaluating purchases with endowment funds, as well as offered gifts of objects
  • Work from and further develop the Department’s recently drafted review of the Collection
  • Proposed selective deaccessioning to refine the Collection and raise acquisition funds


  • Collaborate with other curators, the museum director, and the Exhibition Committee on developing a long-term pipeline of future exhibitions
  • Collaborate with other curators (at the Eastman Museum and other museums) and the director in conceiving and proposing exhibition projects that advance the museum’s mission, with an emphasis on exhibitions that will travel to major venues within the U.S. and internationally
  • Develop, oversee, and individually contribute to exhibition projects that advance scholarship and are engaging to a broader and/or more diverse audience
  • Collaborate with the exhibitions team on the design of in-house exhibitions
  • Oversee and collaborate on research for and development of interpretative materials (e.g., exhibition labels, didactic content, gallery guides, audio tours, videos) for exhibitions
  • Collaborate with the director on the placement of traveling exhibitions at other museums


  • Propose book projects for publication or co-publication by the museum
  • Collaborate with Director of Publishing, Exhibitions & Design on approved book projects
  • Contribute to scholarly journals and other publications

Collection Information, Access and Loans

  • Collaborate with the Associate Curator & Senior Collection Manager and the Registrar in design, oversight, and implementation of comprehensive cataloging and digitization of Collection objects
  • Participate in standing committee on outgoing loans of Collection objects

Education, Public Programs and Media

  • Support development of educational content, especially for grades 4–12 and families
  • Participate in public programs (often simulcast) and docent training at the museum
  • Represent the museum at professional conferences, in professional organizations, on expert panels, and in the media

External Relationships

  • Develop productive relationships with peer professionals and institutions
  • Collaborate with outside curators and scholars on public programs, exhibitions, and books


  • Collaborate with Development Department in establishing and cultivating productive relationships with collectors and donors
  • Collaborate with Development Department to support development and implementation of strategies to solicit and apply for funding from individuals, foundations, and grantmakers for exhibitions, publications, collection research, and other Departmental priorities and projects


  • Identify, recruit, and hire candidates for open positions in the Department
  • Supervise, manage, and evaluate members of the Department staff
  • Mentor, support, and guide members of the Department staff
  • Plan, develop, implement, and manage approved Departmental budgets and allocation of Departmental resources
  • Collaborate and coordinate with other museum departments
  • Collaborate with Conservation Department (including conservators and conservation scientists) and Facilities Manager to identify, implement, and monitor best practices

Minimum Qualifications:

Education and Knowledge

  • Master’s degree in relevant field required; Ph.D. or equivalent preferred
  • Must be well-versed in the intellectual discourse, history, and practice of photography
  • Understanding of professional museum principles, practices, and procedures
  • Knowledge of research tools and methodology
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Experience with The Museum System software (strongly preferred) and other databases
  • Proficiency in foreign language(s) preferred

Work Experience

  • Minimum of eight years’ curatorial experience in photography
  • Experience in conceiving, researching, developing, and completing exhibition projects
  • Experience in conceiving, researching, developing, and completing book projects
  • Demonstrated ability to develop productive relationships with living photographers and their representatives, and with photographers’ heirs, estates, and foundations
  • Demonstrated ability to develop productive relationships with photograph collectors, current and prospective donors, and galleries
  • Experience in developing grant proposals for foundation and government funding
  • Management and budgeting experience

Skills and Abilities

  • Self-directed and highly motivated
  • Team player with leadership ability
  • Collegiality, diplomacy, and constructive interpersonal approach
  • Strategic thinking toward advancing institutional goals
  • Strong administrative, managerial, and mentoring skills
  • Demonstrated organizational planning, problem-solving, and teamwork
  • Ability to think rigorously and to communicate clearly and professionally
  • Exemplary writing, speaking, and listening skills in English
  • Well-developed public speaking skills
  • Ability to present and interpret photographs in a manner relevant to the general public
  • Demonstrated ability to complete projects within deadlines and budgets
  • Ability to develop and successfully manage annual, project, and grant budgets
  • Diligence in maintaining highest levels of confidentiality and discretion
  • Understanding and upholding highest ethical standards

Licenses and Certifications

  • Valid driver's license
  • Valid passport

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 perform successfully the essential functions of this position.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Physical demands:  While performing the duties of this job, the employee will be regularly required to sit, walk, and stand; reach; lift/carry and push/pull carts of collection materials (up to 40 pounds); balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; speak and hear both in person and by telephone; and use hands to handle or feel objects, tools, or controls.  Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, depth perception, color vision, and ability to adjust focus.  The employee will be required to travel independently, domestically and internationally, and in communities served.  The position occasionally will require speaking for an extended period.
  • Work Environment:  Work will be performed in an office environment, but work within the collection spaces will require work in high places and exposure to unusually cold conditions because of the climate requirements for the photograph collection.  Overnight travel will be required.  While performing the duties of this job, the employee will be exposed to weather conditions prevalent at the time.  The noise level in the work environment is usually low to moderate.

To be considered for this position, please e-mail a cover letter and current curriculum vitae to Bruce Barnes, PhD, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, via e-mail (with subject line “CURATOR POSITION”) to [email protected], or via mail to George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, New York  14607.  Submission of application and other communication via e‑mail is preferred.

The Eastman Museum is committed to advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility at our institution and in our society. The Eastman Museum is an Equal Opportunity Employer.