About the American Wing
Established in 1924, the American Wing is the only western collecting area of The Met’s seventeen curatorial departments to regularly blend so-called fine and decorative arts in our more than 75 galleries. With a collection of African American, Euro American, Latin American, and Native American art—representing roughly 20,000 objects and ranging primarily from the mid- 17th to early-20th century—the Wing is one of the largest and most comprehensive holdings of North American artistic expression in the world. These collections include paintings, sculpture, drawings, and decorative arts (furniture, textiles, regalia, ceramics, basketry, glass, silver, metalwork, jewelry), as well as historic interiors and architectural fragments, produced by highly trained and self-taught artists, both identified and unrecorded. An active department with a curatorial staff of 13, the Wing regularly programs diverse exhibitions and installations that bring fresh approaches to our wide-ranging material.
General Statement of Duties and Responsibilities:
In Fall 2018, the American Wing debuted the first major display of historical Indigenous American art to be held in its galleries—Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. In conjunction with that significant installation of outright and promised gifts as well as long-term loans, the Wing is inaugurating a new Native arts program. This position represents the Museum’s first full-time appointment of a curator for this rich and complex material. The Associate Curator of Native North American Art will lay the groundwork and set the tone for this transformational moment in The Met’s history through thoughtful and creative oversight of the Diker Collection as well as other holdings, including the Ralph T. Coe Collection of historical and modern Indigenous American art, along with more recent acquisitions.
The Associate Curator will be responsible for planning and executing exhibitions, installations, and programs in the American Wing, and occasionally work with colleagues in other Museum departments that also hold Native North American material—including Arms and Armor; Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Drawings and Prints; Modern and Contemporary; and Musical Instruments. Active collaborations with curatorial colleagues in the American Wing—exploring entangled narratives and themes of cross-cultural encounter and exchange between Native and non-Native individuals and communities—are also key to the position.
While the primary focus of the position will be the ongoing study, presentation, and interpretation of the current holdings and the development of long-term partnerships and reciprocity with Indigenous communities, scholars, artists, and audiences in the region and across the continent, there are also opportunities to further grow the collection of historical material through purchase or gift. Maintaining current and cultivating new relationships with collectors, donors, and descendent communities are also critical aspects of the job. The Associate Curator will work closely with The Met’s NAGPRA specialist and the American Wing’s collections manager to ensure provenance is thoroughly researched and the collection is cared for appropriately and sensitively.
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES & DUTIES:
Oversee Native North American art in American Wing’s collection as well as promised gifts housed at Museum
Plan and oversee regular rotations of Native arts, including selection of work and writing of interpretive didactics
Propose and realize special exhibitions, installations, and accompanying publications—in collaboration with range of Museum colleagues—that highlight Native arts in focus and in dialogue with culturally diverse production for regional, national, and international audiences
Develop robust collaborations and partnerships with Indigenous community members
Working with American Wing collections manager, coordinate visits with tribal cultural heritage representatives, elders, academics, curators, and artists
Research, catalogue, and publish collection of Native arts in print and on Museum website with particular attention to provenance research and incorporation of source-community information
Assist with growth of Met’s diverse collections of Indigenous North American art, including recommendations for acquisitions, by working with other curators, collectors, and communities
Cultivate potential donors, including for departmental support groups
Contribute to educational mission of Museum through public lectures, docent training, and mentoring of interns and fellows; outside teaching opportunities are also possible
Respond to public inquires about Native arts at Museum
Foster and maintain positive working relationships with departmental colleagues across Museum and institutions in the U.S. and abroad as well as with members of scholarly and source communities, dealers, collectors, and other individuals involved with Met