Position: Associate Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art
Application Deadline: 19 March 2022
Institution: Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, USA
The Harvard Art Museums seek an emerging or established curator of Islamic and/or South Asian art. Engaging in scholarly and public debates on the Harvard University campus and beyond, the curator will lead the charge in deepening the museums’ presentations of the art of the Islamic regions and South Asia, and in proposing fresh perspectives on the definition of these fields for the 21st century. We especially welcome candidates with a demonstrated commitment to addressing the interconnections of art and faith, and to expanding the existing canon, frameworks, and narratives to highlight the diversity of the visual cultures of these geographic areas.
The Calderwood Associate Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art in the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art will join the museums as a broad, multi-year rethinking and reframing of the permanent collection galleries is underway. Integral to this effort will be discussions and collaboration with curatorial colleagues as well as with community stakeholders. The Calderwood Associate Curator will also contribute to shaping an overall institutional vision for the Harvard Art Museums that promotes a more equitable and inclusive cultural space.
The Calderwood curator will acquire artworks to diversify the holdings of Islamic and South Asian art; study the current holdings to amplify their presentation and teaching potential; and craft an ambitious exhibition and publication program. They will work closely with students and faculty to foster significant and sustained curricular use of the collection in both undergraduate and graduate teaching. The curator will mentor students as well as curatorial fellows, training and nurturing the next generation in the field. Working as an integral member of the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, they will also promote dialogue, engagement, and collaboration with curators in other areas—especially in the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art as well as in European and American Art on East-West exchanges—and with colleagues in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. They will play an active role in soliciting funds for mission-critical purposes from individuals, foundations, federal agencies, and other sources.
The collection comprises devotional and secular works in a wide range of media made primarily by peoples living in Western, Central, and South Asia and around the Mediterranean from the early 7th century to the present day. Objects from Turkey, Iran, and India are especially well represented. Although the region overall is a complex of ethnicities, languages, and religions, the majority of the works were created by and/or for Muslims and Hindus. Some 1,400 works on paper and examples of the arts of the book form the core of the collection. Persian paintings, drawings, and calligraphy are a particular strength, as is Rajasthani painting. Ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and objects of other materials number almost 2,000 and demonstrate a strong command of artistry and technique as well as rich cross-cultural exchanges. The majority of these objects are ceramic tiles, vessels, and sherds from Islamic regions, but there are notable holdings of lacquer from Iran, pile carpets and Ottoman luxury silks, medieval and early modern metalwork, and coins. A cross-divisional initiative has added photographs from South Asia.
Candidates MUST at least meet the following basic qualifications in order to be considered for this role; candidates who exceed the minimum are also encouraged to apply.
- Ph.D. in art history, history, or related field, with a focus on Islamic and/or South Asian art; minimum of three years’ progressively responsible curatorial, teaching, and/or field-related experience.
- Fluency in at least one language spoken in the Middle East/South Asia.
- Record of scholarship and achievement in the field of Islamic and/or South Asian art.
- Demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion in museum practice and to engaging a wide range of audiences and constituencies.
- A commitment to playing an active role in a lively and rigorous university setting.
- Experience in teaching, working with students, and/or mentoring a plus.
- Experience working with donors, collectors, and museum patrons a plus.
- Excellent collaborator with a sense of accountability to others.
- Diplomacy, tact, and organizational acumen.
The Harvard Art Museums employs associate curators and full curators. The associate-level position—requiring the minimum qualifications as noted above—is a 5-year term position with the possibility of a one- or two-year extension and/or promotion to full curator after demonstration of progression and accomplishment. A full curator position is a regular position with no term. It requires a minimum of eight years of relevant experience.
The museums value staff diversity and are committed to building a culturally diverse community. We encourage candidates from underrepresented groups to apply. Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are encouraged to apply by March 15, 2022. Please submit a cover letter, CV, and list of three referees. Additional materials may be requested later. Harvard University requires pre-employment screening.