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Assistant/Associate Curator of South Asian Art


Seattle Art Museum is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion.  Qualified individuals who bring diverse perspectives to the workplace are especially encouraged to apply.

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) seeks applications for the new position of Assistant/Associate Curator of South Asian Art. This position is initially for a three-year term. The curator has primary responsibility for the development, presentation, and interpretation of the Museum’s collection of South Asian art and will play a leading role in the development of innovative exhibitions and programs in this area. The curator will also possess a passion for and knowledge of all periods and genres of South Asian art and will be expected to organize exhibitions and build SAM’s collection in this area as well. This new position has been created because of the presence and activity of leading private collectors and in response to interest from Seattle’s growing South Asian population. The curator will be part of the Department of Asian Art and will report to the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director & CEO.

SAM is a vibrant museum with three sites in Seattle. In 2007 the Museum expanded the downtown building and introduced a new approach to installing the collection in which intersections between cultures and between past and present are emphasized. The forthcoming museum-wide installation at the stand-alone Seattle Asian Art Museum, Stories of Asian Art (2019), continues this approach; each gallery is organized around a broad theme, drawing objects from throughout Asia. In support of this approach, the curator will collaborate with other curatorial departments, with artists, with other cultural institutions, and with select community members. In addition to scholarly excellence we expect fruitful collaboration with colleagues in Education, Marketing & Communications, Exhibition Design, and Technology in order to create a vibrant program that engages with diverse audiences.

The Asian collections are primarily showcased in the museum’s 1933 Art Deco building in Volunteer Park, now called the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The Asian collection was the primary passion of our founding director, Richard E. Fuller, and today it is considered one of the top collections in the country. South Asian works were among the earliest objects acquired by the museum. Highlights of the ca. 350- work collection include Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, painting and calligraphy, textiles, and decorative arts.

Seattle Art Museum is currently completing a capital campaign to renovate and modestly expand our original building, scheduled to reopen in fall 2019. The museum’s landmark building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July 2016, joining Olmsted-designed Volunteer Park, which was previously listed in 1976.The renovation will preserve the museum’s historic Art Deco façade and provide necessary improvements to modernize the interior of the building, which has not been substantially restored or renovated since it was built in 1933. In addition to bringing the museum up to 21st-century standards and providing climate control, fire safety, and seismic system upgrades, the renovation project will create much-needed space for education programming and Asian art conservation. A modest expansion will improve the museum’s connection to Volunteer Park, adding a new gallery and a meeting/event space while enhancing the beauty of the park beyond. Upon completion of the project, the Seattle Asian Art Museum will be a more dynamic and vital resource for the city, better reflecting the community that it serves.

The Asian Art Department is housed at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It includes the Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, and a part- time department coordinator. Most years the Blakemore Foundation funds a support/research position for graduate students at the University of Washington to work under curatorial supervision. In addition to SAM’s general resources for programming, the Asian Art Museum houses the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, which sponsors lectures by internationally renowned scholars and experts, film series, and other programming. SAM also has an ongoing collaborative relationship with the School of Art + Art History + Design and the South Asian Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, both at the University of Washington.

We welcome emerging specialists in the South Asian field who are excited about the prospect of building a new program in the vibrant community of Seattle. Ph.D. or ABD in the field of South Asian art desirable. Some museum curatorial experience preferred. Demonstrated ability to work independently and with colleagues to produce creative programming that contributes new knowledge and engages the public.

We are seeking creative, energetic candidates with:

  • a Ph.D. (or ABD) in Art History with an emphasis in South Asian art and some museum curatorial experience preferred; consideration given to candidates with M.A. degree and some professional museum experience.
  • knowledge of and strong interest in historical South Asian art
  • connoisseurship in at least one major area of South Asian art; first hand experience in working directly with objects
  • knowledge of and strong interest in contemporary South Asian art
  • demonstrated scholarship and publication record
  • ability to speak, read and write fluently in English and at least one and preferably more South Asian languages as appropriate to area and period of specialization
  • first-hand knowledge of the South Asian art world and a working network of colleagues in the field, including contemporary artists
  • experience working with and advising collectors
  • strong leadership and ability to work and communicate effectively with many different constituencies including colleagues, trustees, artists, press, dealers, the public
  • superior written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to write engagingly for a general audience
  • a proven ability to handle a variety of tasks concurrently in a complex environment
  • commitment to the permanent collection and experience working with conservators
  • ability to productively work independently and as part of a team to realize institutional goals, especially with colleagues in Education, Marketing & Communications, and Museum Services
  • ability to work with community advisors and special interest groups
  • experience raising funds for projects

The Seattle Art Museum will consider reasonable accommodations for those applicants with disabilities who may need a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions/duties.    Please contact the Human Resources Department for additional information.

TO APPLY:   Please visit for specific instructions on how to submit SAM employment application, cover letter and resume.

Deadline: August 1, 2019

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