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Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art

Ann M. Barwick Curator of American 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.

Seattle Art Museum is seeking applications for its next Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art.  

SAM connects art to life.  Through art, the Seattle Art Museum fosters creativity and builds community.  As a leading visual art institution is three unique locations, SAM shares its global collections, powerful exhibitions and dynamic programs to engage, educate and inspire.

In 2007 the Museum expanded the downtown flagship museum and introduced a new approach to installing the collection in which intersections between cultures and between past and present are emphasized.  Also in 2007, SAM opened the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free outdoor museum on the edge of Elliott Bay.  The Seattle Asian Art Museum, located in Volunteer Park in a landmark art deco building, is currently being renovated and expanded and is scheduled to reopen in Fall 2019.  The Museum employs approximately 275 passionate and dedicated individuals, works with over 500 volunteers, and has an annual budget of $26M.

SAM’s Department of American Art was established in 2004. The collection features major works of the 18th through 20th centuries including paintings by John Singleton Copley, Raphaelle Peale, Sanford Gifford, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, John Singer Sargent, and Childe Hassam; and major holdings of sculpture and decorative arts including silver from the Ruth J. Nutt Collection and works by Augustus St. Gaudens, Alexander Phimister Procter, and Louis Sullivan. SAM has the most significant collection of Northwest Modernism in the country with particular strength in the works of Mark Tobey and Morris Graves. Past exhibitions including Edward Hopper’s Women, George de Forest Brush: The Indian Paintings, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest, Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre, Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, and most recently Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect have won American art a devoted following at SAM. The department maintains a close relationship with the Department of Art History at the University of Washington, which has a fellowship for graduate students working in American art. The museum is fortunate to have a strong and passionate group of American art collectors in Seattle and the region.


The Curator of American Art is responsible for a strong collecting and exhibition program.  Candidates should demonstrate extensive knowledge of the field and a strong vision for a forward-thinking, dynamic program that showcases the strength of American art in the Seattle community.  The curator should have the ability to engage with a broad and diverse audience.  As this position provides stewardship and expertise to local collectors of American art, experience in successful donor cultivation is critical.  This position will report to the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO.  SAM will consider qualified candidates at all career levels.


  • Oversee, develop, research, and present the Museum’s collection of American art. Strategically present the collection through installation, publication, and public programs to foster public appreciation, scholarship, and support from donors and collectors.
  • Contribute to the field of American art through innovative and timely exhibitions and research that highlight new ideas and perspectives. Keep abreast of the latest developments in the field and in museum practice in general.
  • Work closely with collectors, sharing expertise, encouraging the highest levels of collecting for the benefit of the local community, and borrowing works for exhibition as appropriate.
  • Acquire works of art, using acquisition funds or cultivating gifts from donors, working in conjunction with Director and Development Department; present potential acquisitions to Committee on Collections. Review collection regularly to consider works for possible deaccession as appropriate.
  • Participate in care of collection. Work with Conservation and Museum Services to establish priorities for display, conservation, and storage. 
  • Write engagingly for publication at levels required for range of audiences, including exhibition labels, gallery guides, catalogue entries, articles, and online resources.
  • Work with educators, docents, and volunteers to build public appreciation and understanding of American art collection. Enhance community awareness, interest, and appreciation of American art by conducting lectures, tours, and working with community advisors.
  • Develop a long-range vision and plan for the American Art Department at SAM.
  • Curator is expected to be working on a major exhibition and/or publication project at all times, as well as multiple smaller projects.
  • Actively maintain close contacts with colleagues at visual arts institutions. Participate in national and regional professional activities to build a national profile for SAM’s American program.
  • Work with various Museum departments, Board of Trustees, and outside groups as required; attend, participate in, and lead relevant meetings or committees, as assigned.
  • Embrace SAM’s values of Creativity, Excellence, Equity, Engagement, Diversity, Accessibility and Stewardship, as articulated in SAM Strategic Plan.
  • Conform to the code of ethics governing the museum profession, represent the Museum with a high level of integrity and professionalism, and adhere to Museum policies and support management decisions in a positive, professional manner.


  • M.A. degree in Art History or related field required, Ph.D. preferred, with an emphasis in American Art.
  • At least five to seven years relevant museum experience.
  • Deep knowledge of the field of American art including connoisseurship, history, cultural history, and current cultural practices, with demonstrated expertise in at least one historic period. Knowledge of American decorative arts a strong plus.
  • Strong track record of conceptualizing and organizing exhibitions, ideally with a national profile.  A record of publications on American art.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. Ability to give public presentations to different audiences.
  • Knowledge of selection, intrinsic and market value, conservation, and exhibition of works of art and of the legal regulations governing collecting.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks; excellent time-management and problem-solving skills.  Ability to work with close attention to detail and to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information.
  • Ability to work with the Board, donors, volunteers, the public, and co-workers professionally, respectfully, and tactfully.
  • Ability to adhere to Museum policies and practices, and support management decisions in a positive, professional manner.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with and accuracy in using MS Office products, including Word, Excel, and Access.

This is a full-time position with a comprehensive benefit package including competitive health insurance, generous time off programs, and 403b contributions and matching. SAM offers an excellent mission-driven collaborative work environment with a strong, supportive culture and dedicated team members.

TO APPLY: We invite interested applicants to view the position at and to submit a curriculum vitae and cover letter. Position closes May 15, 2018


SAM connects art to life.

Through art, the Seattle Art Museum fosters creativity and builds community.  As a leading visual art institution in three unique locations, SAM shares its global collections, powerful exhibitions and dynamic programs to engage, educate and inspire.

Core Values


We bring art into people’s lives and help them understand its unique power to inspire creative thinking, which is crucial to understanding and solving our world’s complex problems.


We build and create collections, exhibitions, and public programs of the highest quality and excellence.


We are responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and we think critically about the role art plays in empowering social justice and structural change to promote equity in our society.  We are dedicated to racial equity in all that we do.


We engage our audiences through dialogue that is mutually beneficial, inclusive and enlightening in a spirit of mutual respect.


We invite and respect many viewpoints and experiences, as we strive to develop and sustain a diverse staff, board, and audience, and showcase art from the world’s diverse cultures.


We work to lower economic and physical barriers as well as barriers to understanding, so that art is accessible to everyone. We recognize the importance of excellent customer service in making art accessible to all.


We are transparent and careful stewards of resources, including collections, staff, volunteers, facilities, investments and institutional records.


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.


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