Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts - Yale Center for British Art

ARLIS/NA JobList,

Location: New Haven, CT
Salary: $73,000 - $123,500
Employment Term: Full time
Employee Contact: equity@yale.edu

Position Focus:

The Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts (RBM) stewards the renowned rare books collection of the Yale Center for British Art. Reporting to the Deputy Director and Chief Curator, this position plays a key role in advancing cataloguing and digitization, assessing collection and storage needs, and developing a strategy for sustainable use, growth, and stewardship of the collection. The Curator of RBM brings creativity and vision to the role, driving forward a dynamic program of exhibitions, displays, publications, and digital projects to increase access and promote knowledge about the collection. Working collaboratively across the YCBA, the position embeds the collections in the curatorial and research goals of the museum. This position will participate in a comprehensive collection review and develop a strategic plan for collection development.

The Curator of RBM: 
  • Leads and manages the department staff, activities, and goals
  • Oversees the care, storage, and organization of RBM collections. Assesses and makes recommendations on evolving storage needs.
  • Works closely with Conservation on collection care protocols and priorities
  • Establishes departmental policies and guidelines for RBM cataloguing and documentation
  • Implements a comprehensive plan for cataloguing and digitization. Supervises staff to achieve cataloging priorities
  • Develops and implements exhibitions, gallery displays, interpretative materials, publications, and digital content
  • Undertakes and oversees collections research, including provenance
  • Helps to define the strategic development of the RBM collection
  • Initiates research and makes recommendations for acquisitions/gifts. Works with Advancement and the Chief Curator on cultivating prospective donors
  • Reviews and makes recommendations for loans requests
  • Promotes use of the collection in teaching and classes. Assists faculty in sourcing relevant objects
  • Teaches classes for the YCBA about the collections
  • Manages staff and ensures growth and development
  • Promotes productive and congenial use of shared spaces and storage, and collaboration with staff in Prints and Drawings, Archives, and Study Room.
  • Undertakes research and publication. Represents the museum publicly, giving lectures and participating in scholarly events on the collections and on topics reflecting own areas of expertise
  • Represents YCBA at functions and scholarly meetings; participates in symposia, conferences, and in national and international professional organizations
  • Demonstrates the physical ability and willingness to handle heavy and oversized items, large solander boxes and portfolios up to 40 pounds.


The duties listed below are generic in nature. Applicants will find the detailed responsibilities listed in this Position Focus, as well as the required skills/abilities, to be the most relevant to the position.

Essential Duties
  1. Manages the care, preservation, and expansion of the collection. Decides on the organization and housing of the collection, selects objects for permanent exhibitions, and determines conservation priorities.
  2. Create an exhibition plan that exhibits objects in relationships that display cultural context and art historical importance. Initiates special exhibits. Manages the organization, financing, execution, installation and publication of exhibits.
  3. Recommends acquisitions for the collection which includes judging authenticity, condition, significance, market value, and importance for teaching.
  4. Supervises the efficient physical storage systems for the collection.
  5. Initiates the scholarly cataloging of objects in the collection.
  6. Recommends which object can be loaned; approve loan requests from other museums.
  7. Directs research on objects in the collection
  8. Writes books on the collection and catalogues for exhibitions.
  9. Plans and teaches courses in the appropriate discipline
  10. Fundraises and drafts grant proposals for the collection.
  11. Prepares gallery talks, classes and public lectures. Represents Yale to the outside community to promote the collection and solicit gifts.
  12. Supervises the efficient physical storage systems for the collection
  13. Formulates and establishes policy related to the collection.
  14. May perform other duties as assigned.
Required Education and Experience

Master’s Degree in Art History and five years of curatorial experience or an equivalent education and experience.

Required Skill/Ability 1:

Familiar and comfortable using databases and a variety of software applications such as Voyager, TMS, and Aeon.

Required Skill/Ability 2:

In-depth knowledge and evidence of expertise in art history or British history, or in a relevant area of rare books. Detailed understanding of rare books and special collections.

Required Skill/Ability 3:

Demonstrated independence and willingness and ability to be self-directed. Ability to take initiative, anticipate actions needed, and to exercise discretion and independent judgment.

Required Skill/Ability 4:

Demonstrated excellent interpersonal and organizational skills. Demonstrate ability as an effective manager and collaborator. Proven record of successfully managing a team to meet department goals.

Required Skill/Ability 5:

Proven record of curatorial and scholarly achievement, such as the development of acquisitions, exhibitions, or publications.

Preferred Education, Experience and Skills:

MA or PhD in British art history, British history, or literary history, or Masters Degree from an ALA-accredited program with relevant RBM subject knowledge. Five years progressively responsible experience managing a rare books collection and familiarity with manuscripts market. Strong knowledge of library procedures and best practices, as well as, book history and print culture

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