Chief Curator

Date Posted: Mar 06, 2017
Start Date: Jan 01, 2018

Salary: 80,000-100,000 (based upon experience)
Province: Ontario
Region: Metro Toronto Area
City: Toronto
Organization's Field/Discipline:
Term: Full-time
Career Level:

Organization Description

Gardiner Museum
The Gardiner Museum is a vital cultural institution and an innovator within Toronto’s cultural landscape. The Gardiner celebrates the creativity of clay and the beauty that ceramics bring into our lives in so many ways. Clay is real, remarkable, and relevant in today’s society.

The Museum has collections of international importance, including but not limited to objects from the Ancient Americas, eighteenth-century European porcelain, and contemporary ceramics, particularly the work of great Canadian artists.

The Gardiner is an institution rooted in its community, which helps artists take risks and inspires diverse audiences through clay.

Job Description

Ideal Candidate

We are seeking an exceptional person to join the senior management of the Museum as our next Chief Curator.  He or she should be passionate about ceramics, and have a particular interest in modern or contemporary work, though also with sensitivity to our historic collections.  We are looking for a visionary, who will shape the future of our contemporary collections, lead both the Curatorial and the Education and Programs departments and work closely with the Board and the Curatorial Committee, the Executive Director & CEO, other colleagues and with the public.  The Chief Curator needs to be a gifted leader, a compelling communicator, both in the spoken word and in writing, an outstanding researcher willing to learn about our collections and enrich them, an ardent advocate for the Museum, and an able administrator. 

Candidates should have a Ph.D. or be a Ph.D. candidate in a related subject or relevant equivalent experience and publications. A minimum of eight years of progressive experience as a curator, scholar or artist; a distinguished body of publications and exhibitions or/and gallery development, experience working with donors, collectors, Board members, volunteers and members of the public, and strong administrative skills are all requirements.

Position overview

The Chief Curator plays a key role in the aspirations of the Gardiner Museum as a steward of our important collections, enhancing our profile in Canada and internationally through acquisitions, scholarship, gallery development, exhibitions and public engagement.  As the leader of both the Curatorial and the Education and Programs department, the Chief Curator is a passionate advocate for ceramics, to provoke and engage a diverse public and ensure the Museum’s next generation of support. The vision, dynamism and leadership of the Chief Curator is essential to these aspirations and to the future of the Museum.

Supervisor/Manager:  Executive Director and CEO

Key Responsibilities:

The Chief Curator is a member of the senior management team and is the staff lead for the Curatorial Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Responsible for shaping the Gardiner Museum’s curatorial and education vision, the Chief Curator collaborates and consults with senior management colleagues, members of the Curatorial Committee of the Board, collectors, volunteers and the art community to expand the Museum’s audience by creating displays, exhibitions, programs and publications that capture and engage a diverse audience.

The Chief Curator manages both the Museum’s Curatorial department, and the Education and Programs department. 

The Chief Curator has overall responsibility for the Museum’s permanent collections, their safekeeping, research, access, display and interpretation, as well as making recommendations for acquisitions and deaccessions in accordance with the Museum’s policies.  This position is also responsible for overseeing temporary exhibitions and regularly manages or curates exhibitions and displays. The Chief Curator also encourages the active academic life of the Curatorial department, supporting and engaging in research, publication and the exchange of information.

The Chief Curator has overall responsibility for the Education and Programs department, ensuring that the department enhances visitors’ experiences, engages a diverse public, develops provocative programs and contributes to audience development.

The Chief Curator assists in the development and ongoing review of policies pertinent to all aspects of curatorial responsibilities and actions, as well as those for the Education and Programs department. 

Reporting directly to the  Chief Curator are the Curator, adjunct curators, and the Senior Manager, Education and Programs. All other staff members of the Curatorial, and the Education and Programs departments report to their senior managers.


Permanent Collection (25%):
Responsible for the Museum collection, including long-term plans for the development of the collection, for the permanent galleries, their vision and interpretation in the context of the Strategic Plan.

  • Develops long-term plans for the galleries.
  • Creates and installs displays of the permanent collection, developing new content and rotating selected objects to keep the displays fresh and interesting.
  • Develops and updates long-term plans for acquisitions.
  • Along with the Curator, and adjunct curators when appropriate, reviews and researches potential acquisitions and prepares acquisition proposals; advises on deaccessions when appropriate.
  • Along with the Curator, and adjunct curators when appropriate, researches permanent collection objects, and disseminates information through exhibitions, gallery displays, public lectures and publications. Approves all research projects.
  • Overall responsibility for the safe storage of the collection.
  • Overall responsibility for the library and archives.
  • Oversees curatorial staff and adjunct curators’ work pertaining to the permanent collection.

Temporary Exhibitions (30%)
Develops long-term plans for temporary exhibitions and displays for the Museum in conjunction with the Executive Director & CEO, the Curator and the Major Exhibitions Manager.

  • For externally-curated exhibitions, e.g. travelling exhibitions or Gardiner exhibitions curated by Guest Curators: overall supervision of all temporary exhibitions and related publications. Management of specific projects.
  • For Gardiner Museum-originated exhibitions and displays curated by the Chief Curator: researches and develops original concept and content; curates and supervises preparation of exhibition and related materials including publications. 
  • For Gardiner Museum-originated exhibitions and displays curated by on site Curators: overall supervision and guidance.
  • Liaises with other departments.

Education and Programs (10%)
Overall supervision of the Education and Programs department

  • Works with the Senior Manager, Education and Programs to ensure the development of education and adult programs that enrich the permanent collection and exhibitions, enhance and enliven visitors’ experiences and interact with visitors of all ages and ethnicities.
  • With the Curator and Adjunct Curators, approves of docent training; ensures that docent tours are of a consistent standard with regular reviews.

Other Responsibilities (35%)

  • Along with the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Development Officer, assists the Executive Director & CEO with the development of the Strategic Plan for the Museum
  • Develops long term plans for the curatorial department
  • Develops an annual department plan that defines the executive lead for all exhibitions and gallery installations as well as all other special projects and initiatives
  • Supervises the work of the Curator and adjunct curators; overall supervision the administration of the Curatorial department.
  • Supervises the work of the Senior Manager, Education and Programs; overall supervision of the administration of the Education and Programs department.
  • Oversees the annual department budgets and exhibition budgets prepared by the Major Exhibitions Manager.
  • Assists with cultivation of donors and collectors
  • Liaises with other institutions, museums, galleries, collectors, artists and experts to further the reputation of the Museum; attends conferences and gives lectures or papers.
  • Attends Board Meetings; staff lead for the Curatorial Committee of the Board of Trustees
  • Supervises the library and archives
  • Other duties as required


Requirements and Skills:

Bona fide education licenses or degrees required
Ph.D or Ph. D. candidate in Art History, Ceramic History, History or suitable subject, or relevant equivalent experience and publications

Experience (8 years of progressive experience, more desirable)

  • Demonstrated expertise in at least one major area of the Museum’s Collection, preferably Contemporary Ceramics, or a related subject
  • Experience as curator at a medium or senior level desirable, or equivalent
  • Experience in curating exhibitions, and/or gallery development
  • Experienced researcher in ceramics or a related subject, well published, extensive lecturing and/or teaching
  • Demonstrated experience with management, long-term planning, budgets, time management

Interpersonal/People Management/Communication skills

  • Ability to work with board members, donors, collectors, artists, gallery owners, curators and scholars, as well as publishers, designers, volunteers and staff members at every level
  • Demonstrated leadership skills, team player
  • Highly developed research and writing skills
  • Excellent communication and lecturing skills
  • Ability to network, act as an ambassador for the institution
  • Visionary, yet detail oriented
  • Fluent in spoken and written English, French and other languages desirable

Administrative skills

  • Excellent management, organizational and operational skills
  • Ability to handle competing priorities
  • Effective planning and decision making abilities
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office(Word, Excel), TMS desirable
  • Advanced knowledge of the following: Museological standards, Code of Ethics, Conservation Policy, Collections Management Policy, the Exhibition and Education Policy, and the Research, Publications, and Copyright Policy, Disaster Policy, Health and Safety Policy, Security Policy.

Technical or mechanical skills

  • Object handling


  • Budget control: overall curatorial and education budgets, exhibitions budgets, multi-year budgets.
  • The Curator and the Senior Manager, Education and Programs, report to the Chief Curator, who is also responsible for the overall supervision of both departments.
  • Adherence to Community Museum standards, Museum policies and ethical standards.

Special conditions of employment:

  • Travel within Canada and Internationally when required
  • Overtime and weekend work when required

Language of employment

  • English

Additional Info:

About the Gardiner Museum

The Gardiner Museum, Canada’s national ceramics museum, seeks a visionary Chief Curator who will help shape the audacious future of this small but dynamic institution.

Located in Toronto, the Gardiner Museum is a public, not-for-profit institution established in 1984 by George and Helen Gardiner.  It has been described as a “collection of collections” with superb holdings of great depth acquired in specific areas of ceramic excellence.  The Museum is known for its exhibitions and education programs that engage a broad and devoted public.  Led by the Board of Trustees and the Executive Director & CEO Kelvin Browne, the Museum is entering a new stage that will focus on outreach to local, national and international communities.  Excellence, diversity, openness, audacity, and vision are our goals.

Gardiner Museum

111 Queen's Park

Toronto, ON M5S 2C7

How to Apply:

Start Date: January 1, 2018

Salary: 80-100,000, plus group insurance, dental, life insurance and RRSP benefits

Term: Full-Time, permanent position (37.5 hours/week)


Please note, there will be no relocation assistance provided to the selected candidate.

To apply candidates should submit a letter of interest and CV in a single PDF document by May 1, 2017 at 5 pm to Please reference “Chief Curator” in subject line.

No phone calls or visits please.  

For further information and a full job description including duties and required skills, please refer to our website 

The Gardiner Museum is an equal opportunity employer. We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Contact Info:

Name: Lauren Gould
Telephone: 416-408-5077
Fax: 416-586-8080


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