Title: Director & Curator of Collections
Reports to: Executive Director
Classification: Full-Time, Exempt
Supervises: Registrar, Collections Manager, and Collections Assistant
The Director & Curator of Collections, a newly created position, will oversee all aspects of Frye’s permanent collection, archives, and registration. A member of the museum’s senior leadership team, they are responsible for the strategic and long-term direction of the permanent collection, day-to-day management of their department, and organization of collection displays and interpretation throughout the museum. This role reports to the Executive Director, oversees a collections and registration team of 3-5 staff, and frequently collaborates with the exhibitions team to steward the collections, archives, and artwork loans.
Through their work, the Director & Curator contributes to a culture of collaboration, community, and respect and centers the work of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEAIB) in all areas of the department.
Charged with the care, preservation, and risk management of Frye’s collections and ensuring that the collections are available for current and future visitors, the Director & Curator is also responsible for all aspects of record-keeping for the permanent collections, loan materials and library and archives. This position also implements and enforces the Collection Department’s policies and practices, including ones pertaining to the acquisition, management, and disposition of art. This leadership role is responsible for balancing a complex and interconnecting set of priorities, ranging from digitization of the collection to keeping up to date with best practices and innovation in the physical care and storage of artworks.
- Supervise Registrar, Collection Manager, Collection Assistant, volunteers, and/or interns on projects related to the permanent collection.
- Oversee maintenance of EmbARK database to ensure integrity of data and records management for the collection as well as collection statistic and demographic data to ensure accountability and accurate reporting
- Manage Registrar to oversee loans from the collection to outside institutions and the display of objects in Frye presentations
- Collaborate across the museum to develop tools and resources to widen access to the collection through exhibition, digitization, interpretation, and other methods and increase visibility of the collection both internally and externally
- Work with Facilities and leadership staff to assess opportunities and storage for the permanent collection and the museum’s library and archives
- Manage annual collections department budget as well as acquisition finances, special funds, and proposed expenditures
- Maintain the museum’s Collection Management Policy and engage staff and board leadership to update and amend this policy in accordance with field standards and institutional needs
- Participate in museum events, trips, and donor study opportunities, including planning and travel, as needed
- Other duties as directed by the Executive Director.
Since opening in 1952, the museum has regularly organized rotating exhibitions and displays featuring its "founding collection," including thematic interpretations, interventions by living artists and scholars, and the acclaimed Frye Salon. In subsequent years, the collections have expanded to include nearly 1500 additional modern and contemporary artworks. Building on these unique holdings and the Frye’s history as a site of experimentation, the Director & Curator will collaboratively guide the collection’s trajectory of growth, assuring best practices and alignment with the museum’s curatorial and strategic priorities.
- Provide curatorial expertise and leadership on all aspects of the permanent collection and serve as the point person for internal and external questions related to the collection.
- In partnership with senior leadership team and advisory committee(s), develop a collection plan with long-term goals and acquisition priorities and aligned with the Frye’s strategic plans.
- Pitch, curate and advise on rigorous and innovative exhibitions and displays of the permanent collection that advance new narratives and increase depth of knowledge about the collection.
- Co-lead Arts Committee meetings, provide coordination among staff to assure the success of meetings and that collection policy and procedures are followed.
- Actively research, assess, and propose potential acquisitions, developing and maintaining priority lists of artists and artworks in collaboration with Chief Curator & Director of Exhibitions.
- Participate in the creation and management of interpretive strategies, publicity materials, and public programs for a variety of audiences related to the collection.
- Keep current on research related to the founding collection and contemporary art and maintain peer contacts with other local, national, and international museum professionals, artists, scholars, gallerists and collectors in order to serve the museum’s needs.
Note: This is not necessarily an all-inclusive list of position-related responsibilities, duties, skills, efforts, requirements, or working conditions. While the above is intended to be an accurate reflection of the current job, management reserves the right to revise the job or to require that other or different tasks be performed as assigned.
Desired Qualifications, Knowledge, and Skills
- Curatorial expertise with modern and contemporary art. Deep knowledge of nineteenth and twentieth-century European art is a plus.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Experience with a range of CMS/ database systems is preferred.
- Exceptional professional communication, writing, and editing skills across diverse constituencies.
- Excellent organizational and prioritization skills.
- The ability to work collaboratively across all departments and establish productive, collegial relationships both internally and externally.
- Prior experience supervising and mentoring staff preferred.
- Ability to work under pressure and tight deadlines.
- Ability to anticipate, prioritize and resolve issues quickly and successfully.
- Participative and adaptive work style; ability to receive feedback.
- Maturity in interpersonal skills; ability to collaborate and interact well with a diverse range of people.
- Ability to handle issues and challenges with extreme diplomacy and confidentiality.
- Commitment to working with a diverse constituent base including staff and volunteers.
- The ability to engage in spirited discussion while maintaining perspective and a professional demeanor.
- An advanced degree in a related field and a minimum of five years’ experience of related work experience at an art museum, collection, or related entity.
- Full health benefits: Dental, Vision, Medical (100% employer-paid option)
- Transportation benefit: ORCA Card
- Commuter benefits
- 403b savings plan with a 1.5% employer match
- Employee assistance program
- 20% Museum store discount
- 35-hour work week
- Reciprocal Museum Membership
All staff must work on-site at least three days per week. Work areas are inside, in a climate-controlled environment with light background noise. Work is occasionally performed at other indoor and outdoor event sites. Shift times may vary to meet the museum's requirement to staff the facilities at all hours. Work may require travel, evening and weekend hours, and extended periods of attendance at museum events.
Remote Working Conditions
Temporary telework arrangements may be approved if the hired staff member needs to relocate. Some tasks may be performed off-site and through remote work. Equipment may be owned and maintained by the employee or the museum. Communications may be by email, mobile phone, internet video, electronic messaging, or other means as technology allows.
Physical Activities Required to Perform Essential Functions
- Approximately 85% of the time is spent working at a computer. A balance of time is spent moving around the work area and museum. Must be able to remain on-site for extended periods when installing exhibitions or participating in museum programs and events.
- Mobility to work in the museum, which is wheelchair accessible, travel offsite and to different locations.
- Ability to lift and carry 15 lbs.
- Ability to see, listen, and talk for extended periods in person, over the telephone, and computer.
- Visual acuity: color perception, close vision, accurate depth perception, and distance vision; ability to read print materials.
As much as possible, the Frye Art Museum will accommodate applicants with disabilities to perform essential functions/duties. Please contact the Human Resources Department (email@example.com) for additional information.
The Frye Art Museum encourages all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Note that all employees are asked to adhere to museum guidance and policy for COVID-19, which may change over time.
How to Apply
We recognize that a successful candidate will meet many of the requirements in this job description but may not meet all the qualifications. We encourage applicants to apply if much of this job description describes them. As part of our commitment to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, we invest in building teams with various backgrounds, identities, and experiences.
The Frye is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, marital or veteran status, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by local, state, or federal law.
The position is open until filled. No emails or phone calls, please. Due to the high volume of applications received, we can only contact candidates whose skills and backgrounds best fit the needs of the open positions. We will contact you by email or phone if we wish to arrange a personal interview.
About the Frye
Located in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood since 1952, the Frye is the city’s only free art museum. The Frye reflects Seattle's evolving identity through contemporary art exhibitions, programs, and community engagement, showcasing local and global artists who are exploring the issues of our time and providing fresh takes on the art historical subject matter found in the museum’s unique collection.
The museum's Founding Collection of 232 oil paintings reflects the distinctive vision of museum founders Charles and Emma Frye and celebrates late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century European and American art. Highlights include works by two generations of artists from Munich—those of the Münchener Künstlergenossenschaft (Munich Artist’s Association), such as Franz von Defregger, Franz von Lenbach, Wilhelm Leibl, and Friedrich August von Kaulbach—and artists who formed the Munich Secession including Ludwig Dill, Hugo von Habermann, Otto Hierl-Deronco, Franz von Stuck, Wilhelm Trübner, Fritz von Uhde, and Heinrich von Zügel. Other notable works include paintings by Eugène Boudin, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Lillian Genth, Gabriel von Max, and Mihály de Munkácsy.
The museum continues to strategically build its collection through purchases and gifts, both deepening existing areas of strength and diversifying holdings to reflect the museum’s expansive curatorial program and Seattle’s globalized present. Contemporary art acquisitions of the last ten years demonstrate the museum’s commitment to contextualizing its distinctive historical collections of art while broadening its holdings to embrace previously underrepresented identities, perspectives, and forms of expression.
In 2020, the museum launched an online collections database, making the entirety of the collection searchable to the public for the first time.