Gunston Hall is a small museum with a highly collaborative, energetic staff dedicated to the power of place, historical objects, and storytelling to create meaningful experiences for visitors of all ages. The Curator is an important part of this team, playing a significant role in the education and guest experiences team, where she or he works closely with the archaeologist, horticulturist, public programs manager, and school and youth programs coordinator. Gunston Hall’s Curator cares for the objects, archival materials, and rare books in the collection; uses the collection to help advance Gunston Hall’s educational mission; ensures the preservation of the historic mansion, conducts and disseminates historical research; leads the acquisitions process for additional items appropriate to the collection; and serves as one of the public faces of the institution. All of these core responsibilities require a demonstrated and enthusiastic passion for the distinctive ability of collections to tell stories, teach, engage, and connect people with history and culture in authentic, personal, and inspirational ways. The Curator reports to the Director of Education and Guest Experiences.
Primary responsibilities of the Curator include:
- Leading and implementing processes and activities that ensure the stewardship and management of all collections in compliance with professionally accepted standards and best practices, and identifying and rectifying areas requiring improvement.
- Creatively considering how collections objects can help tell the stories and ideas of Gunston Hall.
- Identifying holes in the collection, based on interpretive needs, and seeking objects, documents, or rare books to fill those needs. Proposing such acquisitions to the interpretive department and to the collections committee
- Conducting object and historical research to support the organization’s educational goals.
- Serving as a key member of program and exhibition development teams. Facilitating the use of collections in programming, web content development, and social media posts. Proposing and managing collections-related public programs, both in-person and virtual.
- Speaking to internal and external audiences about historical research, objects, architecture, and related topics.
- Striving to use the collections, historic area, and digital resources of Gunston Hall to tell the stories of all people, enslaved and free, who lived at Gunston Hall during our periods of interpretation.
- Applying historic preservation principles and practices to the mansion, maintaining it for future generations as the institution’s largest and most significant collections item.
- Serving as a collections liaison to the Board of Regents and applicable committees and task forces of the Board as outlined in the Collections Policy and otherwise as necessary.
- Developing, implementing, and monitoring collections care and acquisition budgets and business plans as part of the organization’s strategic and inclusive budgeting process.
- Enabling Gunston Hall to better serve its various communities by collaborating with organizations and individuals outside of the organization.
- Developing mutually beneficial projects for interns and volunteers; supervising interns and volunteers; and contributing to intern and volunteer recruitment
- Supervising the part-time collections management technician.
- Identifying conservation needs, recommending strategies for treatment, and ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to resolve the needs identified.
- Coordinating all incoming and outgoing loans; ensuring that the loans support interpretive goals.
- Leading efforts to digitize collections.
- Leading, coordinating, and implementing all records management and retention activities for the organization.
- Identifying items for possible deaccession and pursuing as appropriate
We are seeking an individual with the following knowledge, skills, and abilities:
- Demonstrated and successful experience and knowledge of professional standards and practices relating to collections management, stewardship, and museum curation.
- Demonstrated experience and a commitment to use of collections as a critical component of engaging, authentic, and impactful educational experiences at museums and historic sites.
- Commitment to interpreting difficult history, including slavery.
- Demonstrated commitment to making museums and historic houses accessible and relevant to people of diverse backgrounds, ages, interests, and knowledge levels.
- Demonstrated commitment to providing and supporting exemplary guest service.
- Ability developing and achieving goals, managing projects, and implementing budgets and business plans.
- Commitment to leading and supporting entrepreneurial and innovative initiatives.
- Exemplary oral and written communication skills and a commitment to fostering effective communication in a team environment.
- Belief in the value of collaborating with other staff members and people from outside the institution.
- A positive attitude, energetic personality, and creatively open mind.
- A commitment to excellence.
Qualifications for this position include:
- A Bachelor’s degree in history, American studies, decorative arts or material culture studies or related field is required; a Master’s degree in history, American studies, decorative arts or material culture studies, museum studies, public history, cultural resource management, or related field is preferred.
- A minimum of three years progressive experience demonstrating the required competencies.
- An equivalent combination of training and experience demonstrating the required competencies may be substituted for a degree.
- A passion for the core themes embodied by George Mason and Gunston Hall, history, historic sites, and storytelling is preferred.
- Knowledge of the 18th century and of material culture will strengthen a candidate’s application.
The mission of Gunston Hall is to utilize fully its physical and scholarly resources to stimulate continuing public exploration of democratic ideals as first presented by George Mason in the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a National Historic Landmark, Gunston Hall was built from 1755-1759. The almost 6000 acre plantation was the home of George and Ann Mason, their children, and hundreds of enslaved people, indentured servants, wage workers, and tenant farmers. Today, the site strives to tell the stories of these diverse people and how their stories contribute to our greater American narrative. The physical plant includes the house called Gunston Hall; five reconstructed outbuildings; a visitor center, museum, event facility, and museum shop; an on-going restoration of the 18th-century garden, and 550 acres of diverse landscape situated along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia. For more information, please visit www.gunstonhall.org.
To apply please send a cover letter and resume to Rebecca Martin, Director of Education and Guest Experiences, at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than January 23, 2021. Gunston Hall is an equal opportunity employer.