Associate Curator, Native Arts

Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is a seeking a highly qualified candidate for the position of Assistant/Associate Curator for its acclaimed collection of American Indian art within our department of Native Arts. The DAM has a long history of honoring American Indian art and is committed to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of these rich art forms for broad and diverse audiences in collaboration with Native American communities and artists. As one of the first art museums in the United States to collect American Indian art, the DAM now holds an encyclopedic collection of about 18,000 objects representing the artistic expressions by artists from tribes across North America. The Assistant/Associate Curator is a specialist in the academic disciplines related to the art of Native North America and should be creative, energetic, out-going, self-motivated, and collaborative.

The Assistant/Associate Curator reports to the Native Arts department head who together are responsible for the formation, care and study of designated art museum collections and serves as in-house subject specialist. Shares information in multiple formats with a variety of audiences.

  • Responsible for the acquisition, study, care, display, interpretation, record keeping and publication of designated collection.

  • Responsible for consulting with tribal representatives and the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

  • Develops and maintains new and existing relationships and partnerships with Native communities both locally and across North America.

  • Works collaboratively with Education, Design and Collections in the development, creation, interpretation and installation of permanent galleries and special exhibitions organized or booked by the museum.

  • In collaboration with museum administration, development department, and department head, cultivates donors to encourage art donation and funding for acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, research grants, and fellowships. Such donors include local and national collectors and patrons, foundations, corporations and professional organizations.

  • In collaboration with Museum administration and department head, establishes departmental agenda and schedules. Develops departmental work plans and budgets and contributes to the budgetary plan for exhibitions. Supervises departmental volunteers, support staff, and contract workers as necessary.

  • Organizes and directs activities of departmental support group (as appropriate).

  • Conducts original research on art objects and collections, making results known through publication in collection catalogues, exhibition catalogues and brochures, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, conferences, and interpretive programs for visitors.

  • Prepares and gives lectures, tours, and work-shops to the public, docents, educators and students, professional colleagues, and other groups. Maintains professional affiliations in scholarly organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.

  • Works with Communications to provide information on collection or subject area to the media. Responds to inquiries from the public. As an institutional member of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the DAM is committed to following the AAMD Report on the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art and the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. All curators are required to abide by the above guidelines and are expected to comply with and conduct appropriate provenance research on all objects in their collections.

  • Performs other related duties as assigned or requested

Institutional Responsibilities

  • Assistant/Associate Curator is an essential member of the DAM team, enhancing the museums relationship with the public through the institutions core values of excellence, engagement, commitment to the community, and global vision.

  • Contributes to both policy-making and operational aspects of the museum, participating in a variety of projects and committees.

  • Participates in institutional planning and budgeting process as requested.

  • Serves as a representative of the Museum at public events, institutional functions, and private social occasions.

  • Performs other related duties as assigned or requested.


Knowledge, Skill and Ability

  • Broad knowledge of American Indian/First Nations historical and contemporary art with deep knowledge in an area related to the Museums Native arts collections.

  • Knowledge of American Indian/First Nations collections and collectors, public and private

  • Thorough understanding of laws and their implementation related to American Indian collections, including but not limited to NAGPRA, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, American Antiquities Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, CITES, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

  • Basic understanding of (or interest in learning) art market, current issues, and art conservation

  • Ability to research, write and lecture to both scholarly and public audiences

  • Fundraising capabilities

  • Strong network of professional colleagues, collectors and dealers; must be willing to travel

  • Substantial record of exhibitions and publications, and public speaking abilities

  • Demonstrated record of successful collaboration with curatorial colleagues, conservators, educators, designers and other museum professionals

  • Commitment to finding new ways to engage American Indian and non-Native audiences with the museum and its collections.

  • Strong interest and ability to work in collaboration with American Indian artists and communities to create long-term, meaningful relationships

  • Knowledge and willingness to learn about museums visitors

Education or Formal Training

  • Ph.D. preferred, or M.A. (minimum) in specialized area of art history or related field.


  • Love of objects, aptitude for curatorial work and evidence of scholarly promise.

  • Prior curatorial experience desirable, but not required.

  • Prior art handling experience desirable, but not required.

  • Exhibition or gallery experience and publications desirable, but not required.

  • Experience working with Indigenous artists, elders, tribal governments, and/or communities.

Materials and Equipment Directly Used

  • Libraries; computers: collections inventory, internet information, communication; cameras; magnifying glasses.

Working Environment/Physical Activities

  • Office, museum galleries, collection storage

  • Frequent travel to other national and international museums, galleries, collections, conferences, panels; presence at outdoor installations regardless of weather

  • Entertaining potential donors in a variety of settings.

  • Sitting, working with hands, working with fingers, talking, hearing, vision

  • Some lifting and moving

  • Subject to many interruptions; subject to irregular hours.

  • Mental demands: written and oral comprehension, spatial orientation, memorization, mathematical reasoning.

How to Apply

Interested applicants may apply online.

Posted on January 11