Research Assistant, Contemporary Art

Date Posted
Close Date
Philadelphia, PA
Job Type

Philadelphia Museum of Art

We Are Committed to an Inclusive Workplace
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, we actively seek to employ a diverse group of people who embody our organizational values. We welcome and encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply, especially those from marginalized and underrepresented groups in the museum field, who are inspired by our shared purpose and enjoy working collaboratively with others.

We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, citizenship or immigration status, color, disability, ethnicity, familial status, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other protected status.

How You Will Contribute

Working in the Contemporary Art Department, the Research Assistant will support the Curator for Contemporary Art with exhibitions, installations, and collections research and development as well as other activities related to the work of the Department.

The Research Assistant’s responsibilities include but are not limited to providing support in the following areas: in-depth research, artist and artist studio outreach, cross-departmental communication, exhibition checklist development, installation planning, interpretive didactics, public and donor program planning, and related media and social media efforts. The Research Assistant position offers opportunities for both contributing to and learning from the activities of a fast-paced curatorial department in an institutional setting. The position will be involved in a variety of aspects of departmental activities, from exhibitions to acquisitions, and will lend their voice and support to the department’s continuous work of establishing and presenting new artistic perspectives to the museum’s diverse audiences.

Specifically, you will:

  • Support all aspects of curatorial work in the Department of Contemporary Art, working under the supervision of the Curator of Contemporary Art.
  • Assist with research and the preparation of a variety of projects that range from current installations to long-term exhibition planning and acquisitions research.
  • Work with museum staff across departments, including Library and Archives, Registrar, Conservation, Editorial and Graphic Design, Communications, and other curatorial departments to coordinate the research and development of Contemporary projects, scholarship, and records.
  • Develop and maintain object and exhibition records in TMS and revising “object packages” with up-to-date information (including installation requirements and constraints) for both collection and project-related records.
  • Research and develop up-to-date bibliographic references, artist files, and acquisition files.
  • Communicate information about works of art to relevant departments in preparation for their display or receipt (registrars, exhibition planning, conservators, exhibition designers, etc.).
  • Draft interpretative labels and descriptive texts for artworks in gallery presentations and for acquisitions.
  • Attend relevant meetings and assist Curator with inter-departmental coordination.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Your background and experience include:

  • BA in contemporary art history or curating, with a focus on international, interdisciplinary, and intersectional narratives.
  • Previous experiences in a museum setting or other art organization, whether through internships, fellowships, or other curatorial and research opportunities.
  • A keen interest in presenting new and nuanced ideas to both specialized/scholarly audiences and publics of diverse educational, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • An investment in the formation of new and original perspectives on art historical narratives in global contemporary art.
  • Meticulous and efficient attention to detail, ability to ask questions when necessary, and capacity to balance daily tasks and big-picture thinking.
  • Technical proficiency with personal computers and standard office equipment; fluent with Microsoft Office platform (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access)
  • Prior experience with collection management software; TMS (The Museum System) is preferred.

Position and Compensation Details

  • The hourly rate for this position is $21.54.
  • This position is full-time, non-exempt, and 35 hours per week
  • This position is part of the AFSCME Local 397 bargaining unit.
  • This position reports to The John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Curator of Contemporary Art
  • This is a 2-year term position.

Physical requirements:

  • Able to remain stationary for extended periods of time, to utilize computers and other office equipment required of this job, to perform physically administrative duties in a typical interior office environment, gallery, or exhibit space, and to access most public and staff areas of the museum campus
  • Able to move items up to 40 pounds
  • COVID-19 vaccination required.
  • Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

Institutional Requirements

  • Upholds the professional standards of the field, always acts in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the museum, and protects and enhances its reputation and standing within the community of museums.
  • Adheres to the museum’s code of ethics and Employee Handbook and avoids any real or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • Shows respect for co-workers and visitors and an understanding of and appreciation for the diversity of the museum’s staff, volunteers, and audiences.
  • Maintains confidentiality.
  • Adheres to all museum protocols, procedures, rules, and policies.

Application Timeline

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We encourage candidates to apply early as the position will close once we have a robust applicant pool or a candidate has been selected.

What We Offer

Our employees are at the center of the museum. As an employee, you will have access to numerous museum perks including, but not limited to:

  • Free general admission to the museum for you and your immediate family
  • Discounted guest tickets for admission
  • Discounts on gift memberships
  • Special staff tours and presentations from our curatorial and conservation teams
  • Discounts at the museum restaurant, museum cafés, and museum retail and online stores

We offer a comprehensive benefits package for employees* including:

  • Medical, dental, and vision benefits
  • Fully paid short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance, and life insurance
  • Health savings or flexible spending account program
  • Retirement savings program with museum match
  • Paid vacation, personal days, sick days, and holidays
  • *Eligibility for certain benefits is based on a variety of factors including the employee’s regular schedule and tenure

How to Apply

Please submit an application through the link below:

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