Astor Curator & Department Head, Printed Books & Bindings

The Morgan Library & Museum

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The Morgan Library & Museum seeks an ambitious, experienced and outgoing curator to lead its Department of Printed Books and Bindings. The Astor Curator and Department Head stewards and interprets the Morganā€™s renowned printed book collection, which extends from the invention of printing to modern first editions. Subject strengths include incunables, fine bindings and printing, illustrated books, childrenā€™s books, association copies, and notable publications of major authors in England, France, and America. Among the highlights are three Gutenberg Bibles, a remarkable run of Aldines, Grolier bindings, French book illustration 1700 to 1914, World War I poetry, Man Booker Prize fiction, and the Carter Burden collection of American literature.

The Astor Curator will conceive, initiate, and execute exhibitions and projects, including sophisticated and compelling exhibitions from the Morganā€™s own holdings, exhibitions based primarily on loans from other institutions, and traveling exhibitions. The Astor Curator will be responsible for overseeing the long-term growth, preservation, and documentation of the collection and for supporting the work of outside researchers, and will be an advocate for the collection and the mission of the Morgan, building understanding of the collection through new scholarship, public programs, publications, and digital projects.

The Astor Curator will be a dynamic leader in the field, known and well-regarded among peers, who is comfortable and happy participating in activities on- and off-site related to the rare-book world. They will be able to move easily between scholarly work and engagement with the Morganā€™s various communities. The Printed Books and Bindings department has a sizable acquisitions budget and candidates should be expert in developing collections and comfortable making strategic acquisitions through both purchases and gifts.

Candidates must have excellent donor-cultivation skills and be eager to forge strong relationships with collectors and donors, and to serve as liaison to the departmentā€™s Visiting Committee. The ideal candidate will be an articulate ambassador for the Morgan in the scholarly community and with donors and the general public.

The position oversees a staff of two associate curators.


Exhibitions, Programming, and Publications

  • Propose and organize exhibitions that highlight the collection and tell stories that deepen engagement with the material in innovative ways.

  • Secure loans or exhibitions organized by other institutions that help bring attention to the Morganā€™s mission and collections.

  • Develop public programs and events in collaboration with other Morgan staff to promote awareness and understanding of the collection and to bring attention to the contemporary relevance of the collectionā€™s holdings in diverse ways.

  • Develop publications and digital projects to accompany exhibitions and programs.

Collections Stewardship and Scholarly Access

  • Identify and implement strategic acquisitions for the department.

  • Oversee and prioritize departmental activities related to the collection, including research, care, storage and conservation initiatives.

  • Build and maintain active relationships with booksellers and auction houses, staying abreast of acquisition opportunities for the collection.

  • Build and extend networks with other museums, libraries and collections.

  • Support the work of outside researchers.

Departmental Management

  • Mentor and manage a professional departmental staff and foster a culture of excellence and collaboration.

External Relations

  • Cultivate and help secure external support for the department, in conjunction with the Director and the development staff.

  • Serve as an ambassador for the Morganā€™s Printed Books and Binding collection on- and off-site, and enthusiastically attend events at the Morgan and in the community with collectors, book dealers, scholars, professional colleagues, the press and members of the general public.

  • Seven to ten yearsā€™ experience working with and cataloguing primary materials in libraries or other special collections.

  • A notable record of exhibition and publication development; experience with exhibition loans and traveling shows desirable.

  • Knowledge of the antiquarian book trade and experience with acquisitions and building special collections. Strong network and contacts with book dealers and auction houses preferred.

  • Graduate degree in relevant field, PhD preferred.

  • Strong liberal-arts foundation, especially in Western European and American literature and history. A broad generalist with primary expertise in the 16th ā€“ 18th centuries preferred.

  • Knowledge of printing history and analytical bibliography. Familiarity with the care and handling of rare books.

  • Demonstrable experience working with donors and identifying funding sources.

  • Experience managing staff and a track record of mentorship, collaboration and teamwork.

  • Ability to interpret literary, historical and bibliographical scholarship for the general public.

  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues, researchers, students, and critics. Strong writing and public speaking skills.

  • Experience with OCLC and online cataloging systems such as Voyager in a special collections environment.

  • Reading knowledge of Latin and at least one other foreign language (French, German, Italian).

Personal Characteristics

  • Dynamic leadership skills, a person who is confident and resourceful and able to inspire others.

  • Has a collaborative work style, comfortable sharing credit and resources with peers and other staff to fulfill the Morganā€™s mission; able and interested in mentoring staff.

  • Passionate about the world of printed books and special collections and eager to foster broader interest in the field for museum visitors.

  • Able to juggle many balls at once, concurrently setting priorities, meeting short-term deadlines, and pursuing long-term goals and initiatives.

  • Comfortable at and enjoys social interactions with members, donors and collectors.

How to Apply

Nominations welcome.

Qualified candidates should email their cover letter, reĢsumeĢ or CV (Word documents preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by July 15, 2019 to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference, New applicants only. Apply in confidence. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant. For additional information, visit:


This position offers the opportunity to join a prestigious, established museum with an extraordinary collection located in the heart of Manhattan.

The position presents the following opportunities and assets:

The chance to work at the Morgan with its world-renowned collections of illuminated, literary, historical manuscripts; printed books and bindings; drawings; photography; and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.

A senior, endowed position at an accredited AAMD museum with significant resources ā€“ an annual budget in the range of $20 million and an endowment of over $200 million, with strong donor support.

A wide scope of curatorial activities, including curating exhibitions, organizing symposia and seminars, conducting research and publishing.

The ability to seek out and recommend remarkable items for acquisition; and an acquisition budget to make possible purchases beyond gifts.

The appeal of serving a large audience of some 240,000 local, national and international visitors annually, plus many more online, thereby impacting hundreds of thousands of lives.

To work in a collegial, supportive environment with intellectually stimulating colleagues, in a top-flight institution where people tend to stay for long tenures.

A competitive salary and excellent benefits.

A beautiful campus of 3 landmarked buildings, with the interior of the historic library restored in 2010 and the expansion by architect Renzo Piano completed in 2006.

Access to an updated, in-house professional conservation facility for paper and books.

To work under a Director who encourages ambitious initiatives for the Morgan, including its exhibitions and publications.

A location in New York City at the center of the art, literary and performing arts world, with major museums, performing arts centers, dealers and auction houses nearby, as well as antique and antiquarian book fairs.

Multiple universities and colleges, including NYU, Columbia University, Bard, and CUNY provide constant intellectual offerings, lectures, panels, and culturally transformative projects that exemplify an international intellectual and literary destination.

Outdoor recreational opportunities in the city for cycling, walking, beaches, ocean and river views, and many parks and trails.

Posted on June 13