Curator, Agriculture and the Environment

The Henry Ford

Job type: academic administration

Application deadline: June 21, 2016


The Henry Ford, located in Dearborn, Michigan, has an exciting opportunity for a Curator of Agriculture and the Environment!

The Curator of Agriculture and The Environment manages and participates in the development, research, and interpretation of The Henry Ford’s world-class American agricultural collections.  These collections—dating from the 18th century to the present day—document the range of crafts, techniques, and technologies used to raise, harvest, process, and develop crops, livestock, and other life forms.  The collections are especially strong with regard to the impact of technology and industrialization in the late nineteenth and early to mid- twentieth century.  Responsibilities also include participation in exhibition and program development—particularly living history programs—as well as other relevant initiatives at The Henry Ford.

Essential Functions

  1. Maintains deep and broad understanding of significant American objects, stories, and lives that are relevant to the programming and collecting initiatives of The Henry Ford.
  2. Maintains deep and broad understanding of major collection areas and keeps abreast of the latest scholarship on historical and material culture issues relating to those collections.
  3. Develops collections plans that align strategically with the mission and the vision of The Henry Ford.
  4. Reports to the Senior Director of Historical Resources/Chief Curator; works with Chief Curator and other curators to develop the collections.  Guided by the collections plans, is responsible for growing and editing the collections in an ethical and legal manner.
  5. Identifies key artifacts for acquisition by the institution through the active cultivation of donors and other potential sources.
  6. Analyzes new acquisitions using current knowledge and understanding of material culture to ensure they are authentic and genuine.
  7. Guides conservation, collections management, and registrars to prioritize and recommend treatments based on exhibit needs and program use.
  8. Responsible for development of creative work which includes, but is not limited to, publications in any medium, product and program development and design, and all related collateral materials.
  9. Responsible for cataloguing collections, including writing narratives for online presentations according to specified deadlines.
  10. Recommends objects for exhibition and program use, ensuring accuracy, authenticity, and accessibility.
  11. Practices a high standard of public history using the best scholarship and practices to create broadly accessible programs and products for the diverse audiences served by The Henry Ford.
  12. Collaborates with the Curatorial, Education, and Program staff to develop educational and public programs, including installations and products for all venues; creates written manuals and trains interpretive staff for new and/or revised programs.

Institutional Support

  1. Serves as an institutional spokesperson for a variety of subjects and collection areas; offers lectures, tours, and/or classes as required.
  2. Positions the institution as a nationally significant leader in the historical and museum fields by publishing on collections, exhibitions, and/or areas of expertise; developing symposia and participating in panels and conferences; consulting with other institutions.
  3. Offers research, historical and material culture expertise for the development of institutional initiatives, including public relations, marketing, retail, food services, and other projects.
  4. Leads and participates effectively in teams and contributes to the effective team management of all problems, issues and opportunities.
  5. Acts as team player and provides expertise within teams as appropriate.
  6. Other duties as required.

Minimum Requirements

Requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in American History or related field.  Knowledge of the history of agriculture and related fields; knowledge of American social and cultural history with an emphasis on the 20th century; and knowledge of American material culture.  Minimum five years’ professional experience—curatorial or related experience preferred.  Excellent writing, editing, and verbal communication skills required.  Computer skills that support current curatorial practices.

Special Skills

Demonstrated knowledge of American social and cultural history from the 18th century to the present, with an emphasis on the late 20th century onwards.

Demonstrated knowledge of the history of agriculture, with an in-depth knowledge of agricultural processes and associated technologies and their social, environmental, and ecological impact.

Proven ability to research and interpret American social and cultural history through material culture. Experience in developing, managing, and interpreting museum collections preferred.  Extremely strong and varied program development skills.

Good interpersonal, organizational, problem-solving, and consensus-building skills.  Ability to function independently and to work as a member of a team.  Ability to work on multiple projects at a time.  Ability to develop creative work in a variety of media.

Posted: March 30, 2016