Department: Exhibition and Collections
Reports to: Executive Director
The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Through our exhibitions, education, public programs, and community outreach, we offer an open forum for dialogue about the power of the image. Since our founding in 1974, we have presented more than 700 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes, providing instruction at every level. Our new integrated center on the Lower East Side reunites our school and museum in one dynamic cultural center featuring 40,000 square feet of exhibition, education, and administration space, including galleries, public event spaces, classrooms, media labs, darkrooms, and shooting studios.
ICP seeks a dynamic, creative, and expansive-thinking Chief Curator to develop a compelling curatorial vision and program for its new building on the Lower East Side. A recognized leader in the curatorial field, this person possesses a deep historical understanding of photography; an intellectual curiosity about contemporary art and new artistic developments; and is well-versed in the methodological complexities of photography as a form of representation, media, and social engagement. Building on ICP’s founding mission of “concerned photography,” the Chief Curator will be charged with developing an innovative and strategic long-term exhibition plan with original photo-based projects that address the most pressing issues of our time while exploring the medium’s evolving role as an artistic, democratic, and accessible contemporary art form with unprecedented reach within and outside the museum walls. They will also be charged with inspiring new ways to program, exhibit, rethink, publish, and strategically expand ICP’s historical collection of 220,000 photographs, including the Robert Capa and Weegee estates.
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Chief Curator will join the senior management team and will work closely with the Dean of the School to leverage ICP’s reputation as an international leader in photography exhibitions, programs, research, and higher education. The Chief Curator will function as a thought partner to the Executive Director in helping to create and implement a new strategic plan and will be responsible for carrying out ICP’s mission. The Chief Curator will direct the exhibition program, manage the Curatorial and Exhibitions Department and oversee ICP’s public programs, and develop the educational and interpretive framework for exhibitions and other related ICP initiatives to engage varied audiences, from photography specialists to first-time visitors and enthusiasts. The Chief Curator will build international partnerships and produce diverse programs and exhibitions reflecting ICP’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. This objective also involves developing and effectively implementing strategies, systems, policies, and programs at ICP that create an environment that will draw, welcome, and cultivate a diverse group of stakeholders (artists, students, collectors, international visitors, scholars, and curators).
Essential Functions and Duties:
- Lead the development of a comprehensive three- to five-year programmatic calendar for ICP’s collections, galleries, and featured exhibitions with new scholarship and publications that inspire audiences.
- Engage with artists, curators, staff, and community, and build a culture of inclusion and diversity among artist, curators, staff, and programs.
- Provide direction to the curatorial staff and consultants to develop exhibition content, information, and related publications.
- Manage the exhibition schedule, assuring mission driven shows, advanced fundraising, and appropriate balance of exhibitions for our constituencies.
- Develop and monitor departmental and exhibition budgets, contracts, agreements, and other administrative documents.
- Work with and direct the activities of exhibition designers and installers.
- Coordinate exhibition planning with key staff making engaging and accessible content through in-gallery and online interpretation.
- Develop a strategic plan for the collection that details priorities for the care and future growth of the collection based on ICP’s mission, history, and a clear curatorial vision.
- Establish new collecting areas, and actively work with donors and dealers to improve the quality of the collection.
- Collaborate with colleagues to identify and shepherd acquisitions and deaccessions; facilitate decisions on exhibition loan requests and long-term loan opportunities.
- Oversee the operation of the Registrar and work to improve collections-related cataloguing, documentation and reporting.
- Cultivate prospective donors to the collection.
- Oversee the operation and development of collections management databases.
- Seek out ways to make the collection internationally accessible to students, scholars, and the general public onsite and online via the web.
- Identify and prioritize conservation work.
- Assess collections management and curatorial functions, priorities, and processes to ensure efficiencies, excellence, and alignment with museum best practices and AAM accreditation standards.
- Collaborate and communicate with staff across ICP regarding exhibitions, collection-management, education and interpretive plans, publications, and key deadlines with connection to ICP’s mission as the critical link.
- Collaborate with the Dean of the School to leverage ICP’s unique institutional model as a museum and school with talented faculty, students, and alumni.
- Collaborate with the Chief Development Officer to cultivate donors and raise funds for exhibitions, lectures, publications, and related programs.
- Collaborate with COO/CFO to develop, monitor and project budgets to plan for long-term success for exhibitions and programs.
- Keep trustees and acquisition and exhibition committees informed about exhibitions and other relevant programs and events.
- Participate and present at Board and Executive committee meetings and other standing committees.
- Lead oversight of the Acquisitions and Exhibitions committees.
- Represent ICP and its mission in professional, academic, and social forums to increase awareness of ICP and its programs both nationally and internationally.
Team Management and Responsibilities:
- Supervise the on-site curatorial team, a Curator-at-Large based in the UK, and visiting curators collaborating on exhibitions.
- Encourage collaboration and mentorship of diverse curatorial voices, leading team members to grow professionally and intellectually.
- Establish mission-driven benchmarks and support and hold team accountable for achieving goals and institutional mission.
- Communicate and keep department team members informed about department plans, schedules, and activities as well as key management and institutional initiatives.
- Recruit, hire, and manage annual performance reviews for team.
- A master’s degree or equivalent years of directly related experience.
- Ph.D. preferred, with broad publishing contributions to the field
Minimum Experience Requirement:
- At least 10 years’ experience in museum curatorial positions specializing in photography, or equivalent combination of museum-related exhibitions and collections experience.
- The candidate should have experience with programming as it relates to funding and grants, strong existing relationships with museum and cultural institutions and organizations, as well as funding sources in the government, foundation, and private philanthropic worlds that support museums.
Additional Competency Requirement (Specific Knowledge, Skills and Abilities)
- Strong knowledge of photography, its history, and ongoing debates.
- Persuasive communication skills, both oral and written.
- Ability to develop and monitor departmental and exhibition budgets, contracts, agreements, and other administrative documents.
- An established track record of directly related senior-level professional experience, preferably in curatorial and operations management roles in a museum environment.
- Ten years of demonstrable success in development, implementation, and management of complex exhibitions and programs at the senior level is preferred.
- Knowledge of operational standards (AAM) and best practices for art and history museums is essential.
- Demonstrated background developing exhibits and related printed and interpretive material (publications, wall text, brochures, press releases, etc.).
- Proven success in communicating effectively in writing, grant writing, public speaking, as well as interaction with key partners, donors, or potential donors, and professionally affiliated contacts.
- Ability to work independently and as a part of a team.
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- The employee must frequently lift and/or move up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.
- While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit and talk or hear.
- The employee is occasionally required to use hands to handle, or feel objects, keyboard or controls; and reach with hands and arms.
Special Environmental Factors: (Nature of the work environment)
- FULL COVID-19 Vaccination Require
Compensation and Benefits:
Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience. ICP provides its staff with a generous benefits package featuring medical, dental, life insurance, short- and long-term disability, pre-tax transit and flexible spending programs, and 403(b) pension plan.