Swarthmore College is a highly selective liberal arts college located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, whose mission combines academic rigor with social responsibility. Swarthmore has a strong institutional commitment to inclusive excellence and nondiscrimination in its educational program and employment practices and encourages candidates who will further advance the goal of fostering a diverse and inclusive community. As one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning, Swarthmore College is global in outlook and draws students from around the nation and world. The 425‐acre campus is a designated arboretum, complete with gardens, rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails in the Crum Woods.
Who We Are:
Swarthmore College, a highly selective liberal arts institution, is seeking an energetic and experienced Art Collection Manager to help safeguard Swarthmore's art collection and make it more accessible as a public resource. The collection of more than 3,000 objects includes works by diverse artists, including Benjamin West, Edward Hicks, Robert Henri, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Mary Lee Bendolph, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Sculptures installed throughout Swarthmore's campus include works by Alexander Calder, Harry Bertoia, and Steve Tobin. Located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, Swarthmore's 425‐acre campus is a designated arboretum and considered by many to be a work of art in itself. Its abundant gardens, lawns, creek, and woods attract students and visitors from around the world. The manager will work closely with the collection director and also collaborate with staff at the List Gallery, Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Friends Historical Library Collections, and the Artist Books and Private Press Collection. Our inclusive community of students, faculty, librarians, alumni, and administrators are committed to developing Swarthmore’s art collection to promote learning, civic engagement, and community well being.
The Art Collection Manager plays a pivotal role in the preservation, documentation, interpretation, and public appreciation of the Swarthmore College Art Collection. Also serving as registrar, the manager oversees the storage and transportation of art objects, documents and prepares works for display, and oversees the collection database. The Manager helps develop new policies and strategies, researches collection strengths, prioritizes and implements conservation, and responds to inquiries from donors and researchers. During the first year in the position, the Manager will oversee a comprehensive photographic inventory of works and obtain updated appraisals. Longer-term projects include migrating the database to a public-facing system, helping to plan for new storage and exhibition facilities, and helping to design and manage the collection website.
Manage art storage and preparation facilities, security and conservation, art handling, transportation, and presentation materials. (35%)
Safeguard, oversee, and manage the physical condition, care, and display of all works in the collection; develop a conservation schedule; periodically inspect all artworks on public display; and implement conservation treatments as needed.
Oversee works stored at off-site providers and facilitate periodic inspections and recalls. Create and oversee a studio workshop where art works can be evaluated, matted, framed, repaired, photographed, and prepared for display.
Monitor and update HVAC equipment, environmental conditions, and security measures to ensure that works are protected. Construct, purchase, or commission exhibition mounts to facilitate the display of objects.
Create and install labels, wall texts, and other interpretive materials that improve viewers' appreciation of artworks.
Manage collection archives and database / Perform duties as collection registrar (30%)
Acquire, organize, and maintain all paper and other physical archival records associated with the collection.
Oversee the digitization of archival records associated with art objects and integrate them into the collection database.
Update and improve cataloging as needed.
Schedule and oversee photographic documentation and independent appraisals.
Manage insurance information related to the collection.
Prepare and complete contracts related to the loan, transport, and care of artworks and provide for the packing and shipping of works lent to other institutions.
Additional administrative oversight, risk management, and supervisory tasks (20%)
Prioritize, negotiate, and manage repairs and improvement work completed by both College staff and outside contractors.
Request certificates of insurance as needed.
Help draft and complete grant budgets, financial reports, Art Committee minutes, and communications with art lenders, borrowers, and donors.
Curricular support and student mentoring (5%)
Develop learning opportunities related to collection management and oversee the work of select student workers or interns assisting with collection management tasks. Provide students with individualized mentoring, hands-on learning, and career training. Review and approve student time sheets. Contribute to a safe and inclusive work environment.
Collaborative research, planning, and policy development (5%)
Contribute to strategic planning processes that position the College Art Collection as a vital academic and public resource.
As a leading member of the Art Committee, provide critical analysis, research, and other information related to acquisitions, deaccessioning, and other matters and serve as committee chair in the director's absence.
Research, recommend, and implement procedures necessary for managing the collection according to best practices.
Define policies and procedures for the proper handling of specific works in the collection.
Coordinate efforts with College faculty and staff, especially with those who regularly interact with or care for valuable objects and artworks, such as staff at Friends Historic Library, Special Collections, the Rare Book Room, the Black Cultural Center, Facilities, diverse academic departments, and Scott Arboretum.
Help improve understanding of collection policies and practices throughout the College community. Develop and maintain relationships with colleagues at peer institutions.
Support educational outreach and curatorial initiatives. (5%)
Collaborate with staff in both IT and Communications to develop and curate the collection’s accessibility both online and in print.
Develop content for the collection website.
Manage repairs and improvement work by College staff, including painting, electrical work, periodic cleaning, HVAC repair, pest management, and the construction of display aids.
Regularly oversees services performed by independent contractors, including consultants, appraisers, art handlers, shippers, photographers, and carpenters. Negotiates terms of service and oversees such professional services.
Hires and supervises 1-2 students each year to assist with collection work.
Mentors and trains both professional staff and students.
Who you are:
Swarthmore encourages applications from individuals who can manage simultaneous projects, work collaboratively and collegially, support curricular innovation, and contribute to public outreach. We especially welcome applications from those who pursue accuracy and improvement with a high-level of independence, maturity, and ethical discernment. We also encourage candidates with superior written and oral communication skills who are interested in researching and writing about collection objects, giving public talks or tours, and mentoring students.
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities
A creative problem-solver who is adaptable and collegial.
Thinks creatively and critically about programs and activities. Challenges the status quo and promotes continuous improvement. Keeps informed about and sensitive to issues related to diversity, inclusivity, and environmental stewardship. Cultivates spaces and forums that foster mutual respect and intellectual inquiry.
Understands and abides by a high standard of professional ethics.
Models the sensitivity and communication skills needed to support diverse faculty, staff and students in the Swarthmore community and the public at large.
Maximizes the use of available resources, in order to provide optimum value to the College.
Demonstrates expertise through effective spoken and written communication skills. Motivates others by providing compelling explanations or instructions. Listens effectively and makes high-quality presentations.
Manages time effectively, in order to accomplish highest-priority goals and objectives.
Continues to develop expertise in both historical and contemporary art, curatorial practices, and administrative efficiency.
Develops productive working relationships with diverse artists, educators, curators, and gallery and museum administrators.
What you bring:
Master’s degree or commensurate training in fine arts, art history, museum studies, or a closely related field is required and at least three years of experience administering a significant art collection.
Superior research, writing, editing, and public speaking skills.
Demonstrated success in managing multiple projects.
Exceptional organizational, interpersonal, and collaborative abilities.
Extensive knowledge of art collection management practices, including guidelines developed by the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries and the American Alliance of Museums, relating to preservation, handling, storage, shipment, insurance, and presentation.
Experience implementing policies related to environmental hazards, security, and emergency preparedness and response.
Facility with social media, graphic design, word processing, spreadsheets, photographic and video documentation, and standard office equipment. Familiarity with or the ability to quickly learn Filemaker, EmbARK and/or other data management software.
Broad knowledge of both historical and contemporary art and demonstrated expertise related to museum administration practices, the management of academic art collections, ethical guidelines, and curatorial principles.
Demonstrated excellence in record keeping and art documentation.
Knowledge of recent changes in collection management policies and procedures, including those related to security, disaster, and emergency preparedness.
Exercises initiative, independence, maturity, and discernment. Generates and monitors own work efforts in order to provide self-sufficient expertise requiring limited supervision.
Experience curating exhibitions, conducting art historical or other scholarly research, and leading productive working groups.
Experience developing interpretive materials such as wall labels, press releases, brochures, and catalogs.
Experience developing and implementing communication strategies that enhance the use of art collections.
Familiarity with exhibition design and techniques related to presentation, packing, and framing.
Must be able to walk throughout Swarthmore's campus and buildings to inspect art works on public display; carry and climb on a ladder; move art and pedestals weighing up to 30 pounds; bend, stoop, kneel, and use a laptop for long periods; work with box cutters and glass; work in diverse physical work environments, including areas under construction, to plan improvements; address emergencies related to floods, mold blooms, or infestations; speak clearly to large groups or audiences; drive a car; and travel both locally and regionally for business purposes.
Use of a vehicle is necessary in order to travel to off-site storage or art loan locations. A valid driver’s license is required for this position.
On occasion, the Collection Manager may need to interact with objects, materials and facilities that may contain mold and mildew, insect residue, or unknown hazards. The Collection Manager should be prepared to take appropriate measures to safely enter and remediate unexpected hazards. The Collection Manager must also be on-call to address emergency issues related to collections safety and preservation.
What You Will Get:
You will work with outstanding colleagues and students from around the world, receive generous benefits, enjoy Swarthmore's extraordinary arboretum, and participate in a collaborative and inclusive work environment. You will be part of a mutually supportive, fun-loving, and creative community of learners.
If you are excited about this role, we want to hear from you! For full consideration, submit applications including resume and cover letter with pay expectations by June 12, 2023.
MVR Required by Position
Due to operating a College owned motor vehicle while performing essential job responsibilities for this position, a motor vehicle report (MVR) clearance is required prior to the start of employment.
Review the Swarthmore Benefits Guidebook, we offer benefit plans starting at zero cost! Upon benefit eligibility, the College contributes 10% of an employee’s salary to their retirement account. Employees are 100% vested in their accounts on the date participation begins.
Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Swarthmore College is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Offering a liberal arts and engineering curriculum, the College is private, yet open to all regardless of financial need. It is also decidedly global in outlook, drawing students from around the world and all 50 states. The diversity of perspectives represented by Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff - including different viewpoints, identities, and histories - contributes to the community's strong sense of open dialogue and engagement with ideas and issues.