Chief Curator
Tulsa, OK Curatorial
Job Type


Creativity and connection. These simple and powerful principles inform every aspect of the modern Philbrook experience. From concerts in the cabin to campouts in the Garden, from lowrider picnics to unforgettable and diverse exhibitions, the goal is clear: to become and remain Tulsa’s most welcoming cultural institution. A stunning historic home, a world-class art museum, and 25 breathtaking acres. Quite the trifecta. 

In addition to these resources, a recently established acquisitions fund has transformed the Museum’s collecting ability, making ambitious and strategic collection development possible. Fundamental to our collecting strategy is diversifying the collection. Currently more than a third of the collection is by Native American artists and nearly half of artists represented are women. Future acquisitions will focus on the most vibrant and exciting examples of modern and contemporary art, highlighting historically underrepresented and underrecognized artists in particular. By emphasizing quality over quantity and visitor impact over name recognition, the increasingly diverse collection supports a vision in which museums reflect their communities in order to foster deeper understanding of ourselves, our rich community fabric, and our ever-shrinking world.  

With this vision in mind, the Museum is actively reshaping its collection of 14,000 artworks to be more relevant and inclusive. Our longstanding focus on collecting from the local to the global—from collections built through the Oklahoma Annual and Indian Annual to the Kress collection of Italian art to work from over 200 Native American tribes—distinguishes us from many of our peers in the region. Over the past decade, Philbrook has acquired work by artists born in Argentina, Canada, England, Ethiopia, France, Mexico, Pakistan, and the US—including from right here in Tulsa. These artists reflect not only key artistic developments from around the world, but also speak to the significance of our local community.

 JOB SUMMARY: The Chief Curator leads the Museum’s dynamic curatorial program in support of Philbrook’s mission: to build a more creative and connected community through art and gardens. Responsible for collection strategy and development, curating exhibitions and gallery installations in alignment with institutional mission and priorities, conceptualizing and producing a range of engaging programs intended for broad audiences as well as seasoned collectors, researching and interpreting the collection, fostering relationships with collectors and donors, and collaborating broadly across the organization and community to connect people with each other and with Philbrook’s programs and resources. Works closely with Deputy Director for Audience Engagement & Curatorial Affairs on development of long-range exhibition schedule, collection development strategy, and other strategic institutional priorities.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities:     

  • Exhibition Development: Conceptualize and develop   exhibitions and installations with relevance and appeal to local audiences   and alignment with institutional mission, priorities, and budget. Seek out   artists from a range of backgrounds and support artistic practice at all   levels. Effectively engage and grow advisory groups as appropriate. 
  • Collection Development & Stewardship: Actively   and strategically shape the collection through purchases, commissions, gifts,   and deaccessions. In collaboration with Deputy Director, Audience Engagement   & Curatorial Affairs, and partnership with Collections Committee Chair,   steward Collections Committee, including developing annual meeting schedule,   agendas, and related materials. Seek and encourage private gifts for Museum   purchases of appropriate works for the collection. As   appropriate, contribute to the ongoing creation of the comprehensive   catalogue of Philbrook’s collections, including verifying, correcting, and   augmenting existing collection records. 
  •  Programming: Create   innovative programs geared toward both targeted audiences and a broad general   audience. Present information to docents, collectors, interest groups, or   other organizations in the form of lectures and public programs within field   of expertise. 
  •  Outreach & Visibility: Nurture mutually beneficial   relationships with artists, gallerists, donors, collectors, critics, writers,   and other colleagues locally and nationally. Stay current with the field of   expertise, including new and emerging artists as well as broader trends and   developments. Lead planning and developing programming related to Museum’s   donor and collecting groups.
  •  Collaboration & Administration:   Collaborate across the institution to support efforts in fundraising,   learning & audience engagement, collections care, programming, public   relations, and communications. Build strong relationships across the   institution by communicating proactively and maintaining a professional   demeanor and positive attitude. Develop and administer annual operating   budget, as well as project-specific budgets, for exhibitions and other   special programs as assigned. 
  •  Evaluation: Embrace the evolving relationship between museums and   their audiences and use evaluative methods to better understand and serve   those audiences. Participate in evaluation of programs on an ongoing basis   and respond appropriately to feedback to ensure a successful process of   continual improvement.
  • Staff Management: Guide direct reports, including 2-4 other curators as well as   fellows, interns, and volunteers, to assure institutional alignment,   productivity, efficiency, and continuous improvement of each team member.   Mentor staff at a range of levels, challenging and supporting team members to   encourage ongoing professional growth. Monitor and evaluate performance and   provide coaching, training, and corrective actions as required. Assure   equitable administration of Philbrook policies and compliance with regulatory   and legal requirements. Provide appropriate recommendations for staffing,   compensation, promotion and termination actions.
  •  Attendance: Maintain prompt and reliable attendance in order   to successfully perform the duties of the job, including weekend and evening   hours for events and programs as needed.

Equivalent Education/Experience

  • Masters’ degree in art history or related field (a bachelor’s degree and equivalent training may be substituted); PhD preferred 
  • Minimum of 5-7 years of curatorial experience, including at least 3-5 years in a supervisory role



  • Expertise in modern/contemporary art; experience working with gardens, outdoor/public art, or performance-based practices an advantage
  • Highly articulate, with excellent writing and public speaking skills. Able and willing to engage a broad range of constituents including community members, academic audiences, general visitors, artists, collectors, dealers, and potential donors
  • Creative, open-minded, and committed to innovative museum practice and welcoming of ideas from unconventional sources
  • Flexible and goal-oriented, with the ability to handle constantly changing priorities
  • Demonstrates keen cultural sensitivity
  • Diplomatic, kind, and gracious, with a sense of humor and innate curiosity
  • Familiarity with museum practices, including acquisition processes, collections care, exhibition development, interpretation, and evaluation
  • Comfortable with personal computers and social media, including word processing, digital imaging, and database applications

 Competitive Salary & Benefits

  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Health Spending Account
  • 403(b) retirement plan and matching

Philbrook provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

Salary Description
$85,000 - $105,000