Curator, Photographs & Prints

Location US-NY-Manhattan
Job ID
2020-11380
# of Openings Remaining
1
Type
Full-Time
Department
SCG Schomburg Photographs & Prints

Overview

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of materials focused on African American, African, and African Diasporan experiences, featuring diverse programming and exhibition of over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global Black history and culture. A research library of The New York Public Library and seeded by the collection of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg 95 years ago, the Schomburg Center provides free access to materials documenting Black life locally, nationally, and internationally. 

 

The Photographs and Prints division enables researchers to work directly with original, rare, and unique visual source materials. Beginning with images collected by Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the collection has grown through the years to include more than 500,000 items that date from the eighteenth century to the present. It is not an overstatement to say the division contains the history and future of Black photography and imagery.

 

As part of a dynamic curatorial and leadership team, the Curator will provide strong and effective subject expertise, leadership and vision in developing and promoting the photograph and print collections, serve as the primary spokesperson for the division, and undertake activities that advance expanded use of the collection and other strategic goals. The Curator will devise, communicate, and implement strategies to build and shape the collection, including the cultivation and recommendation of major new acquisitions, drawing on an understanding of the collection’s historical strengths, its use and exhibition, as well as trends in scholarly research and innovations in the field of photography.

Principal Responsibilities

Under the leadership of the Associate Director of Collections and Research Services, the Photographs and Prints Curator will perform the following functions: 

 

  • Manage and develop the photograph and print collection including developing a long-term strategic plan for creating enhanced access and discoverability
  • Raise awareness of the collection and cultivate new communities of users, including a supportive donor base to address collection needs and new initiatives
  • Oversee the processing, cataloging, and digitization of collections as well as public orders and photographic services-related activities
  • Manage an integral, dynamic team of librarians, technical assistants, and support staff
  • Work within established budgets and with senior staff to set spending priorities
  • Provide reference service and research consultation to library users
  • Shape and strengthen the division’s profile in the fields of Africana history and photography archives through professional engagement and development, relevant memberships, publishing, and conference participation
  • Support the Center’s interpretation, teaching, and scholarship initiatives through collections-based exhibition, instruction, publications, and programs
  • Partner with the Development Office to pursue and manage grants supporting  acquisitions, preservation, and access to the collection
  • Work collaboratively and build supportive relationships with colleagues across The NYPL to increase discovery, access, and collection use
  • Ensure the care and maintenance of the collection to the highest professional standards
  • Represent the collection in public settings and work with communications and media relations to promote the collection via internal and external media 
  • Facilitate internal and external loan requests to eligible institutions, in collaboration with the Registrar’s Office and Preservation
  • Participate in NYPL-wide initiatives through participation on committees, task forces, research library meetings, and other relevant groups 
  • Regularly review and manage the safe handling of collection materials in all locations, including in storage facilities
  • Performs other related duties

Required Education & Experience

  • Master's Degree or higher in a related field (i.e. Photography, Art History, or Art Education), or MLS from an ALA-accredited school with extensive experience working in photography archives
  • At least five years of progressively responsible leadership and managerial experience of a photograph collection in a research library, archive, museum, or related setting 
  • Subject area expertise or educational background in African American History/Studies, Africana Studies, American History, Cultural Studies, or related areas preferred  

Minimum Qualifications

  • Demonstrated commitment to providing outstanding public service and a track record of promoting archives or special collections
  • Experience arranging or cataloging photograph collections and digitization
  • Experience interpreting photographic collections for the public in exhibitions, programming, and/or publication
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communications skills, including the ability to work effectively with all levels of staff and users 
  • Public speaking ability or experience
  • Grant writing experience and/or proven ability to develop and foster relationships with donors, collectors, and other institutions

Preferred Qualifications

  • Adept at management, and providing vision and leadership 
  • Experience working collaboratively with and in teams to produce high quality  outcomes 
  • Demonstrated commitment to engaged participation in the larger field, including identifying and sharing opportunities for professional development

All team members are expected and encouraged to embody the NYPL Core Values:

  • Be Helpful to patrons and colleagues
  • Be Resourceful in solving problems 
  • Be Curious in all aspects of your work

Work Environment

Division is open in a scheduled rotation Monday through Saturday, typically 10 AM to 6 PM. Some evening hours and Saturday work is required.

Physical Duties

  • Limited physical effort is required
  • Light lifting required
  • Lifting up to 30 lbs. Required
  • Some local travel

Union / Non Union

Non Union

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