Chief Curator

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Chief Curator

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Employers By State in 2021.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for all positions at the University of Pennsylvania. New hires are expected to be fully vaccinated before beginning work at the University. For more information about Penn's vaccine requirements and the use of Penn Open Pass, visit the Penn COVID-19 Response website for the latest information.

Posted Job Title
Chief Curator

Job Profile Title

Job Description Summary
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia seeks a dynamic Chief Curator to join our team. ICA is a premier non-collecting laboratory of artistic experimentation that develops and presents exhibitions, commissions, events, publications, and special projects that champion underrecognized artists and ideas. The institution's mission is supported by our location as part of the University of Pennsylvania, a leading research university. ICA prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and is committed to advocating for artists, research, and dialogues that support and encourage an exchange of ideas on art and society.

Job Description

  • Establish a multi-year vision and agenda for ICA's multidisciplinary curatorial program (centered on art, design, architecture and the built environment). Design and build programming onsite, offsite, and across ICA's digital platforms.
  • Develop original research for projects spanning group, thematic, and solo exhibitions and curatorial projects that are not limited to but include a focus on emergent artistic and cultural practices, bring to light overlooked artists and ideas, and explore issues that contextualize and resonate with the socio-political conditions of our time.
  • Review proposals for exhibitions by curators at ICA and guest curators and provide support and mentorship to ensure projects are well situated within the arc of ICA's program and are successfully realized.
  • Establish vision and plan (in tandem with other departments at ICA, including Public Engagement) for publishing that continues ICA's history of contributing scholarship to the field and considers original writing, visual essays and other forms of publishing that further an exchange of ideas on contemporary artistic practice. Define a roadmap that includes staffing, budget, capacity, etc., for achieving goals.
  • Introduce programs and write original scholarly essays and articles.
  • Place a high value on interpretation, creating materials and experiences that are artist-centered and support audiences in having meaningful connections with ICA projects.
  • Contribute to professional organizations and events, such as conferences and festivals, to continue to advance ICA's reputation. Keep abreast of local, national, and international arts scholarship and practice, and new developments in the field through research and contact with other curators, artists, and scholars.
  • Consistently look to innovate and introduce new processes and working methods to ICA to improve and foster a positive and evolving culture of experimentation and discovery.
  • Build and grow relationships with artists, curators, faculty, and arts and culture leaders across Philadelphia, the region, nationally, and internationally, and develop partnerships and a curatorial program that will resonate with a local and national audience.
  • Work across ICA, establishing ties with the university and beyond to create rigorous and collaborative methods of inquiry and research through programming, publishing, and academic courses that supports the teaching mission of UPenn and reinforces the multidisciplinary profile and potential of ICA, furthering our research mission and fostering connections between art, ideas, and society.
  • Co-lead on initiatives and strategies for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.
  • Oversee, mentor, and develop a team of curators, promoting professional growth while creating opportunities for them within the development of exhibitions and programming.
  • Work closely with teams across ICA (Curatorial Affairs, Public Engagement and Research, Development, Marketing and Communications, and Business Administration) fostering collaboration, cohesion, and providing support across all functions of the institution related to ICA's curatorial program.
  • Act as an effective spokesperson for ICA and the arts at UPenn, and on a local, national, and international level.
  • In concert with Director of Curatorial Affairs, oversees all aspects of the curatorial program from budgets, schedules, logistics, and production for originally conceived shows, projects borrowed from other institutions, and ICA exhibitions that travel to other venues. Expected to set objectives for income and expenses, adjusting forecast to ensure goals. Balances the creative and intellectual process of developing programs and partnerships with duties associated with administrative and financial oversight and planning.
  • Works closely with Development staff to strategize, cultivate, and expand programmatic support. Actively cultivates donors, foundations, government and corporate funders for program specific projects and general curatorial support for the department.
  • Involved with creating fundraising events with Development staff.
  • Other duties & responsibilities as assigned 5%


Advanced degree in Art History or related field preferred, or equivalent combination of education and experience. Demonstrated knowledge of 20th and 21st century art, and a deep knowledge of contemporary art essential. 5 years+ experience of organizing exhibitions that demonstrate rigor and original thinking. Excellent research and writing skills and strong publication record. Ability to take a long-range planning approach to programming and clearly articulate an arc of ideas. Demonstrated experience and passion for building strong teams, mentoring, managing, and developing staff. Strong organizational and operational skills. Must have excellent communication skills both written and verbal and be able to communicate effectively with various constituent groups. Self-directed and a team player, able to build collaborative relationships with diverse stakeholders and engender trust and inspire potential in our communities locally and internationally. Good skills in donor cultivation and fundraising. Teaching experience in a university setting a plus.

Application Requirement:

A Cover Letter and Resume/CV are required to be considered for this position. Please upload your Cover Letter where it asks you to upload your Resume/CV; multiple documents are allowed.

Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission driven

search, has been exclusively retained for this search.

To express your interest in this role please email: .

Budgeted Pay:

A competitive salary will be commensurate with experience.

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
Institute of Contemporary Art

Pay Range
$61,046.00 - $95,972.00

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits
  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family-whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement-and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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