Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

California, United States
18 Oct 2018
End of advertisement period
18 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Cantor Arts Center is committed to developing a diverse candidate pool. 

Job Purpose:

The Halperin Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art is a senior curatorial position responsible for the presentation, research, preservation, and growth of the collection of modern and contemporary art at the Cantor Arts Center. The curator works closely with the museum’s curators and educators in a collaborative environment that encourages the development of innovative programs, exhibitions, and acquisitions. The curator also must be able to thrive in a prestigious academic environment, developing partnerships with Stanford faculty members and engaging students across disciplines. The candidate should possess demonstrable museum experience and have a record of accomplishment in successfully producing significant exhibitions, academic and public programs, and publications in contemporary art, as well as the ability to lecture and teach. The curator reports to the Cantor’s John and Jill Freidenrich Director.

The Halperin Curator will join a new and revitalized curatorial team that will participate in the re-imagining and re-installation of the museum’s galleries and other exhibition spaces. This is a chance to help define a new vision for modern and contemporary art at the Cantor, as well as for the museum overall. As the encyclopedic art museum at Stanford, the Cantor has an opportunity to help determine what a 21st-century museum will look like and how it will function. The Cantor will present exhibitions, installations, and programs that feature contemporary concerns and artistic trends, as well as implement state-of-the-art interpretative methods and technologies. It is also an opportunity to establish the Cantor as a site of interdisciplinary cultural discourse, with social justice and other relevant contemporary issues and concerns as recurring themes, and the creation of an inclusive community as an outcome. The Cantor intentionally seeks to create an environment of inclusion and diversity of staff, collections, exhibitions, and programs. 

Another significant aspect of the position will be building the collection of contemporary art, actively pursuing acquisitions and loans, while fostering relationships with donors and other supporters of the museum. The candidate must have proven experience working with collectors and all aspects of donor cultivation. As a thoughtful member of the curatorial team, the curator will bring in-depth knowledge of art history and museum practice to assist in implementing an exciting vision for the museum. The curator’s purview will be the art of the 20th and 21st centuries, spanning media and global geographic regions. The curator should be well connected to other museum colleagues, artists, galleries, nationally and internationally. With the Anderson Collection at Stanford located adjacent to the Cantor, the Halperin Curator will work alongside premier collection of modern and contemporary American art.

The successful candidate will be expected to propose and realize major exhibition projects within their field of expertise. These projects may take cues from the Cantor’s permanent collection, be built from loans from other institutions and collections, or a combination of these two sources. Major publications, conceived as meaningful contributions to the field on the issues addressed in the exhibition, will accompany these projects. The curator also will help to conceive and implement academic and public programs, while playing a strategic role in strengthening the museum’s commitment to the academic life of the university, by initiating collaborations with Stanford students, faculty, and staff; and ensuring that the resources of the museum are made available to the faculty and students in meaningful and innovative ways. The Cantor seeks to be a center for arts leadership for the next generation with a special focus on training diverse candidates for curatorial, programmatic, and other museum positions.

About us:

Cantor Arts Center boasts a proud and venerable history. Conceived with the founding of Stanford University in 1891, the museum opened in 1894, serving the University and the broader community. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the museum, necessitating its closure to the public. In 1995 groundbreaking for a major new wing and restoration of the historic building began in earnest with the revitalized museum opening in 1999 as the Iris and B. Gerald Canto Center for the Visual Arts. The Cantor offers approximately 50,000 square feet exhibition space, as well as classrooms and other study spaces for students and faculty. Collections include art from Europe and America, both historical and contemporary; Asia, primarily Japan and China; Africa; Oceania; historical works from Mexico, Central America, and South America; and the Stanford Family Collection.


  • Conceive, research, develop and collaborate with museum and faculty colleagues to organize and present compelling installations of the permanent collection, as well as ambitious traveling exhibitions of varying scope; develop related programming, including lectures, symposia, and other educational programs.
  • Research, write, and oversee production of related publications, including catalogs and wall text.
  • Work with the exhibitions team to coordinate project budgets, assisting in the development, preparation, and oversight of exhibition budgets.
  • Develop collections by selectively acquiring important objects through purchase and gift.
  • Cultivate relationships with museum supporters and prospective donors 
  • Solicit and evaluate proposals for exhibitions organized by other institutions and coordinate their presentation at the Cantor.
  • Assist in fundraising and public relations efforts related to department activities.
  • Develop a cooperative and productive relationship between the Center and the local, national, and international art community.
  • Supervise undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows engaged in Cantor-based projects.
  • Maintain record of scholarly production as well as scholarly profile by participating in conferences within area of scholarly expertise, as well as by lecturing in academic and public forums.

Other duties may also be assigned.


Education & Experience:

  • Ph.D. in the History of Art or related field, in combination with 5 to 7 years of museum experience. 
  • Established record of scholarly achievement.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Fluency in at least one language besides English preferred. 
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as demonstrated public speaking and presentation skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and professionalism to interact with a wide range of people at different levels of an organization. 
  • Proven ability to effectively and efficiently manage multiple priorities, with competing deadlines.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships both internally and externally.
  • Proven experience working with collectors and donor cultivation. 


  • Frequently perform desk-based computer tasks, seated work and use light/ fine grasping.
  • Occasionally stand, walk, and write by hand, lift, carry, push pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.

* Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.


  • May work extended or non-standard hours, weekends and holidays based on business needs.
  • Occasional local and overnight travel may be required.
  • May work in areas with exposure to dust, paint, chemicals and other toxins.


  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.
  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.
  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University’s Administrative Guide,

The job description can be found here, as well as on the American Alliance of Museums, College Art Association, and Association of Academic Museums and Galleries sites. Please submit a cover letter describing experience, as well as a c.v. as described.