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"Discovering Antarctica" Guest Curator 


Mystic Seaport Museum, the preeminent American maritime museum, is currently organizing a major temporary exhibition with the working title of Discovering Antarctica: 1820-2020, to commemorate the bicentennial of the continent’s discovery, in 2020. The museum is located in Mystic, CT, just a few miles from the historic home of sealing captain Nathaniel Palmer, who sailed from Stonington, CT in 1820, becoming the first American to sight the Antarctic coast. Palmer’s story is an entry point into a complex history of human engagement with the only continent without an indigenous population. Working from the museum’s vision statement – to reimagine the interchange between maritime heritage and broader contemporary culture - the exhibition intends to reveal different chapters from the two-hundred-year history, including the continent’s discovery, and the commercial, heroic, mechanical, and scientific eras. Of major importance will be visitors’ understanding of the role Antarctica plays today in furthering our understanding of global climate change.

Exhibition planning began with a two-day workshop in Mystic in 2017, involving Antarctic experts in various disciplines in the sciences and humanities. This group of more than twenty specialists in fields as diverse as whaling and resource extraction, economic history, history of exploration, geophysics, marine biology, environmental history, and contemporary art and design will continue to serve as a valuable resource and sounding board as the exhibition content develops over the coming two years.

The museum is hiring a guest curator to facilitate content development for the exhibition. This person should have expertise in a discipline related to the exhibition, be familiar with Antarctica as a subject (preferably through personal experience), and have some experience with museum work and/or exhibition development. This will be a contract position working remotely, not a full time employee of the museum. However, occasional travel to Mystic will be necessary.

The guest curator will work with the museum’s exhibits and curatorial departments to:

  • Review early planning and discussions for the exhibition to mine for the final project.
  • Confirm the project’s overall themes, and which historic and contemporary stories will be shared.
  • Continue the development of relationships with potential specialist and institutional collaborators.
  • Develop the corresponding checklist and propose artifact loans.
  • Draft gallery text.
  • Participate in the development of visitor experience goals.
  • Work with designers, fundraisers, and public program planners to develop and convey the exhibition themes through a variety of platforms for different audiences.
  • Be available for staff training and public programs leading up to and during the exhibition run from November 2020-October 2021.

Duties and responsibilities:

  • Conducts content research, collaborates with subject matter experts, and helps refine thematic structure.
  • Develops exhibit content for delivery through text, images, interactives, video and audio. Includes writing text for label copy, editing, fact checking, proofreading, and helping to select artifacts and artwork.
  • Works with curators and other Museum staff to clearly define exhibit goals, objectives and key messages.
  • Work with external contractors as needed

The guest curator will report to the Senior Vice President for Curatorial Affairs.
Applicants should include a resume and cover letter. Application deadline is December 21, 2018.

Position Requirements
  • Graduate degree in a relevant discipline
  • Some professional experience in a museum environment
  • Personal experience in Antarctica strongly preferred
  • Knowledge of research methodologies in the humanities
  • Experience in exhibit development with knowledge of design principles and museum exhibit methodology.
  • Excellent communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills.
  • Strong analytical and organizational skills, including project management.
Full-Time/Part-Time Independent Contractor  
EOE Statement Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In addition, state and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, Veteran's status, age (40 years and over), physical or mental disability, religious affiliation or other protected status. It is our policy to comply fully with these laws and information requested on this application will not be used for any purpose prohibited by law.  
About the Organization Mystic Seaport Museum is the nation's leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929 to gather and preserve the rapidly disappearing artifacts of America's seafaring past, the Museum has grown to become a national center for research and education with the mission to 'inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.'

The Museum's grounds cover 19 acres on the Mystic River in Mystic, CT and include a recreated New England coastal village, a working shipyard, formal exhibit halls, and state-of-the-art artifact storage facilities. The Museum is home to more than 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, most notably the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, America's oldest commercial ship still in existence.  

This position is currently not accepting applications.

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