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Senior Curator of Social Maritime Histories  


The Senior Curator of Social Maritime Histories will be responsible for working on curatorial projects of race, Indigenous histories, ethnicity, and diversity in New England's maritime activities as it relates to the collections and site of Mystic Seaport Museum. The Senior Curator will work with Curatorial and Museum colleagues to lead a team through the Museum's and other regional collections, developing contemporary re-imaginings of people's actions in the past and present, and translating that into content applicable to today's social environment. The first 2.5 years of this role will culminate in a major exhibition in Fall 2023, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Just Futures Initiative. Thereafter the Senior Curator will continue on new projects related to these and related themes. Additionally, the Senior Curator will lead a curatorial team in the development and educational work related to the Museum's public and school audiences through the development of in-house and online content.

This position is funded through an award from the Mellon Foundation, with the project titled 'Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom.' The funding supports a partnership among Brown University, Williams College, and Mystic Seaport Museum to engage with Native American and African American histories and legacies surrounding the founding of New England through the present day, using the sea and maritime realm as a lens for investigating issues of freedom and slavery, dispossession and cultural persistence, legacy and memory. A major gallery exhibition opening Fall 2023 is a core project outcome of this initiative.

The Mellon partnership allows us to draw upon the extraordinary MSM collections as well as those of other lending museums, library, and archival collections as well as community practices and collective memories. The exhibition will map a more complex historical frame engaging with questions of race and sovereignty bringing the memory archive into creative juxtaposition with visual and material culture, archaeology, oral traditions, songs, and performance.

It is the Museum's intention that the Mellon Foundation project lead to a permanent role for the Senior Curator to pursue new and ever deeper re-imaginings, scholarship, exhibitions, and outreach to increase diversity and inclusivity in all future projects at the Mystic Seaport Museum. The 2023 exhibition project will continue to resonate throughout the campus and the Museum's dedication to the core intention of this effort.


  • Review and assess the collections of the Museum in order to develop a strategic plan for delivering underserved stories.
  • Review and research holdings in other area museums, libraries, cultural communities and historical organizations that relate to Maritime Social history.
  • Work closely with Mellon project partners, including faculty, students, administrators, and librarians to develop 2023 gallery exhibit and related public and scholarly products
  • Working on the Mellon Project , the curator will forge collaborative relationships with the African American and Indigenous communities since the planned exhibition is framed as telling the stories of these communities . In order to achieve this the curatorial project will develop distinctive non-extractive modes of collecting related objects, archival collections, photographs, and oral histories.
  • Participate in summer Munson Institute lectures and discussions
  • Work collaboratively with staff, faculty, and students of the Williams-Mystic Program
  • Develop a working outline of Mystic Seaport Museum's stories as they relate to diverse perspectives.
  • Recruit, select, and manage research associates for specific aspects of the Mellon and other projects.
  • Write and review content for public presentation.
  • Curate additional exhibition(s) about Maritime Social History.
  • Collaborate with fellow museum staff to organize and present public programs, workshops, and lectures that advance public awareness of underserved community's social history and that stimulate new insights and understandings.
  • Work with Museum leadership with a focus on engagement to develop and advance relationships with more diverse audiences.
  • Participate in DEAI initiatives within the Museum to effect long-lasting change.

The Senior Curator is a full-time position with benefits. The first 2.5 years will be funded through the Mellon Project and then transition into a Museum funded position. The position start date is July 1, 2021.

Position Requirements
  • Candidate ideally will have an MA in museum studies, history, or African American Studies, Indigenous or Native Studies or a related field.
  • Ideal candidate must have a minimum of three to five years’ experience as a curator, public historian or educator, specifically researching, documenting, and presenting underserved history and culture within museums, historical agencies, libraries, or educational institutions.
  • Candidate must have a thorough understanding of material culture and exhibiting artifacts.
  • Ability to relate historic content to current affairs.
  • Ability to bring new ideas and understanding to the Museum’s interpretation of its collections.
  • Flexibility and ability to work well in a team environment.
  • Ability to maintain high standards of scholarship, creativity, and sensitivity to audience needs.
  • Proven ability to influence and drive change.
  • Excellent oral and written communication, public speaking, organizational, and research skills.
  • Proven team leadership.

Candidates should apply online. Application materials must include the following:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter that addresses: what about maritime heritage lends itself to a transformative story as it relates to race, ethnicity, social justice, and community activism.
  • Where do you see this project making an impact on society, and how do you see yourself as a driver for that?
  • Brief writing sample (2500 words max) excerpt
Full-Time/Part-Time Full-Time  
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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