Curator of the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata

Morris Museum

Job Type: Museums and Libraries

Application Deadline: November 8, 2021

The Morris Museum, located in the thriving community of Morristown NJ (one hour from New York City), creates opportunities for lifelong learning, discovery, and creativity driven by the contemporary interpretation of its Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata as well as its general collections. The Museum is newly engaged in a multi-year transition embracing its revised mission “to interpret the past and discover the future through art, sound, and motion.” With a long tradition of serving its surrounding communities, the Museum provides family-friendly educational programs, complemented by sophisticated public programming for adults, including a dozen or more annual exhibitions and as many as 100 performances in its fully-rigged, 312-seat proscenium theatre. Opening in 2021 the tenth location in the Smithsonian Institution’s growing national network of Spark!Lab educational facilities, STE(A)M education is an increasing focus. The Morris Museum is the only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of New Jersey.

The Guinness Curator—with¬ an interest in art, music, technology, and their experiential/ performative relationships—will have responsibility for the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata, comprising some 750 objects from the 18th to 20th centuries and some 5000 pieces of programmed, musical media. An extensive research library of related materials is also on site. Especially important is the curator’s ability to develop exhibits of contemporary relevance, broadly and creatively inspired by Guinness Collection’s historical foundation.

Essential Functions:
• As a lead curator, develop an interpretive context and voice for temporary exhibits that are informed and inspired by Guinness themes, both historical and contemporary.
• As a managing curator, oversee and assist museum colleagues and guest curators in the development and execution of additional exhibitions, as assigned.
• Oversee the Guinness permanent gallery, the visible storage of the Guinness Collection, and the Edgerton Mechanical Music Library.

• Serve as the institution’s primary academic specialist in the Guinness Collection, developing and maintaining that expertise through study, research, and engagement with the field of mechanical musical objects and automata.
• Identify and work closely with artists, galleries, scholars, and collectors to create—from concept to installation—at least two well-researched, temporary exhibitions annually.
• Work closely with other museum staff, to include the Conservator of the Guinness Collection and the Registrar/Collections Manager, to coordinate the readiness of objects necessary for exhibition.
• Publish work in academic and/or public-history outlets.
• Provide knowledge and leadership for the development of educational programs related to the Guinness Collection and related temporary exhibitions. Train and manage volunteer docents for daily tours of the Guinness Gallery.
• Represent the museum in responding to public, research and press inquiries.
• Participate, as requested, in grants research and writing.
• Oversee intern assistants and volunteers as appropriate.
• Work collegially with diverse staff, public, and professional colleagues in a timely and productive manner.

The ideal candidate will:
• hold an advanced degree in the history of science/technology, STS, mechanical engineering, art history, material culture, or related fields, with experience/interest in museum curatorial practice.
• demonstrate previous work experience in a public-facing educational or cultural institution with curatorial and/or teaching responsibilities
• demonstrate the ability to formulate and advance a vision for a specialized, historical collection with an eye for creatively deploying it in surprising ways.
• have—or be poised to build and maintain—a professional network within or between the disciplines of art, music, craft, design, and new media, well-grounded in the historic foundations provided by the Guinness Collection.
• demonstrate experience and willingness to participate in exhibit installation as required.
• demonstrate a strong curatorial voice, expressed through engaging communication skills (written, oral, social media).
• be able to work independently as well as with a team.
• demonstrate excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving ability.
• demonstrate technological alacrity, with a welcoming disposition to embrace and learn new technology as needed.

To apply:

Applications reviewed as received. No phone inquiries. Qualified candidates should submit: 1) a thoughtful letter of interest, 2) a CV, and 3) contact information for three professional references. These materials must be sent as email attachments to with “Guinness Curator” in the subject line. Thank you for your interest.

More info:

Posted: October 14, 2021