Curator – Research and Cultural Collections – External Relations – 59866Z – Grade 7
Department of External Relations
Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK
Full time starting salary is normally in the range £30,942 to £40,322, with potential progression once in post to £42,792
Full Time/FTC until February 2022 to cover maternity leave
Closing date – 4th June 2021
This role is also open as an internal secondment opportunity which would need to be agreed by your current line manager.
The University of Birmingham (UoB) is one of the UK’s first civic universities. Using this as a springboard in 2021 the University will open The Exchange, a £40m civic-facing facility in the heart of the city centre as a focus for its public engagement activities. In anticipation of the opening of The Exchange, UoB established a new Public Engagement function under the leadership of a Director of Public Engagement. The purpose of the new function is to improve the coordination and quality of UoB’s public engagement activities and to ensure high-quality, relevant and audience-facing public engagement that engages the public – regionally, nationally and internationally – in the research, teaching and collections of the University, growing awareness, understanding, reputation and public value.
The academic year 2021-22 is set to be an exciting year for the University of Birmingham’s Public Engagement team, with the opening of The Exchange and being a Tier 1 Sponsor to the B2022 Commonwealth Games.
We are looking to recruit a curator (maternity cover) who can hit the ground running in supporting these key initiatives amongst other important curatorial commitments.
The Curator – Research and Cultural Collections (RCC Curator) (Maternity cover) will be involved in some significant projects during 2021-22, including but not limited to:
Take a leading role in the digitisation of RCC objects and related curatorial files. Preparing material in order to support research, online teaching and for use on the University’s website and other platforms
Work alongside the RCC team to apply all Collections Management and Care polices, processes, procedures and professional standards and to maintain and implement the RCC Collections Care and Conservation Plan
Provide guidance and advice on all aspects concerning the care and conservation of collections, recommending appropriate storage and display conditions and advising staff on the packing, handling and movement of collections objects where appropriate
Oversee, support and where relevant deliver preventative conservation work to objects, preparing them for display and/or storage where appropriate
Support the development and improvement of storage facilities for the RCC
Work with colleagues to identify and apply to appropriate funding opportunities to support the development, care, management and display of the RCC.
The RCC Curator (maternity cover) will dynamically curate the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections (RCC), which reflect the institutional development of the University, its teaching and research. This includes fine art, archaeological, ethnographic, social history, medical and physical science collections.
As well as overall responsibility for researching and disseminating knowledge relating to the wider collections, the RCC Curator (maternity cover) will use them in support of the University’s public engagement activities, enabling access to objects through agreed innovative displays, activities and exhibitions. The role requires strong and diplomatic collaboration across Professional Services and College staff and with external partners and stakeholders to create and maintain high-quality and up-to-date displays, supported by high-quality interpretation, labelling and public engagement opportunities.
The post holder is responsible for:
General oversight of the collections, providing curatorial support and expertise in response to enquiries, programmes of activity and in support of the wider care of the collections
Enabling access to the RCC for a wide range of diverse internal and external audiences through an exciting programme of exhibitions, events, teaching, interpretation and research
Working collaboratively with the Collections Manager and Curator (objects) to develop a cohesive approach to the care and display of collections, including the development of consistent of presentation, labelling and interpretation across UoB.
The post holder reports directly to the Head of Research and Cultural Collections, and is based in the Public Engagement function within External Relations under the leadership of the Director of Public Engagement.
Care and management of collections
a. To actively research, curate, manage and develop the University’s Research and Cultural Collections, working collaboratively with the RCC team to identify opportunities to enhance the collection through research, displays, acquisitions and disposals.
b. To work alongside the Collections Manager and other RCC Curator to apply Collections Care and Conservation policies, processes, procedures and professional standards.
c. To provide advice and guidance on all aspects concerning the care and conservation of collections, recommending appropriate storage and display conditions and advising staff on the packing, handling and movement of Museum objects where appropriate.
d. To work closely with the collections manager to develop, maintain and implement the Museum’s Collections Care and Conservation Plan.
e. To work closely with the Collections Manager to agree and action the labelling and digitisation of the RCC for collections management, access and research purposes, ensuring that annual targets are set and met to raise awareness and enable greater use of the collections.
f. To work with colleagues across UoB collections to develop shared policies, procedures and practices to align and improve standards, access and engagement opportunities.
Supporting research and teaching
a. To support academics from UoB and other institutions in researching and displaying the RCC, providing access and expert knowledge to support research, interpretation and engagement.
b. To use the RCC to support teaching and learning across UoB disciplines.
Presentation, displays and access
c. To actively oversee collections displays on campus, at The Exchange and elsewhere including the development and delivery of cohesive and consistent approaches to interpretation planning, presentation and object labelling across the function and wider institution, in collaboration with the Public Engagement team, Professional Services, Colleges and Estates colleagues, ensuring high-quality and well-maintained displays commensurate with UoB’s standing as a top 100 university.
d. To facilitate access to the RCC’, identifying opportunities for engagement through enhanced displays and supporting public programming, working with the Public Programmes team to develop public engagement activities.
e. To identify and deliver loans out and into the RCC in order to support their presentation and understanding, working collaboratively with external organisations and key partners.
f. To work with Public Engagement, ER Communications & Engagement and Digital colleagues to promote the use of and engagement with the RCC through agreed communications and digital channels.
g. To undertake evaluation of collections displays and exhibitions as part of a continuous improvement programme and maintain detailed records to ensure that activities at The Exchange, on campus and elsewhere are delivered to the highest standards, commensurate with UoB’s reputation.
Finance, income and administration
h. To manage a devolved budget related to curatorial activities, ensuring appropriate financial management processes are in place, and aligned with External Relations and UoB processes and procedures.
i. To work with the Head of Research and Cultural Collections and other colleagues to identify and apply to appropriate funding opportunities to support the development, care, management and display of the RCC.
j. To oversee intellectual property and copyright across the RCC art holdings, with responsibility for the development of corresponding policies and procedures relating to copyright of collections, digitisation and commercialisation.
k. To manage institutional portrait commissions as required in liaison with the Vice Chancellor’s Office and other relevant departments.
l. To continue developing expert knowledge and professional practice in curating and caring for the collections, providing advice and guidance to colleagues across the function and wider University, as necessary.
m. To participate as an active and responsible member of the Public Engagement team and contribute to the development of policies, strategies and practice that work to remove barriers to public engagement with the University in relation to the collections.
n. To monitor delivery and outputs against the University Strategic Framework and relevant Strategic Plans, including provision of updates and reports and update processes as appropriate.
o. To represent the Public Engagement function at agreed external events, ensuring that UoB’s research, public engagement and collections activities are promulgated regionally, nationally and internationally to enhance the reputation of the University and to act in every way to preserve the University’s reputation and good name in all areas of work and be fully committed to openness and transparency.
A postgraduate degree in history of art (or curating/museum studies with demonstrable specialist interest/experience of working with collections)
Significant experience in a curatorial role in a public sector/university museum or art gallery
Highly developed knowledge of museum and cultural services across University cultural collections and an understanding of how they contribute to both the University as a whole and the wider cultural sector
Understanding and awareness of up-to-date requirements of museum standards and best practice for collections care and access (ACE Accreditation scheme)
Strong understanding of higher education environment and of the potential impact of cultural activity and its role in public engagement for Universities
Experience of digitising collections and museum photography (desirable)
Experience of managing volunteer programmes including developing processes and procedures as well as directly training and supporting volunteers
Experience of managing budgets within broader financial system requirements of a medium or large-scale institution, including accurate record keeping and precise reporting
Understanding and knowledge of intellectual property and copyright requirements
Demonstrates energy, determination and resilience
Demonstrate the External Relations Values and Behaviours
Excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to motivate and develop a wide range of internal and external stakeholders
Evidence of excellent written communication in a broad range of contexts for specialist and non-specialist audiences, whether concise and accessible exhibition text, digital content, marketing copy or academically rigorous in-depth written research outputs
Ability to understand and use subject specialist language when appropriate including procedural and legal documentation (such as artist contracts, loan and copyright agreements)
Dealing with Problems
Evidence of the ability to obtain, analyse and use complex data to inform effective decision-making
Ability to think creatively about opportunities and threats, to face conflict and look for common ground on which to build
Experience of relationship management and effective partnership development and understanding of project timelines and parameters.
Internal and external relationships
Ability to influence senior decision makers and win support for proposals
Ability to engage and communicate effectively with a range of academic and professional services staff across UoB
Ability to communicate effectively and clearly with a range of publics and community groups, students and volunteers
Ability to communicate and advocate to culture and industry professionals external to the University in the city, nationally and internationally
Ability to represent the University externally to academia, industry and other bodies, including potential donors, in the UK and internationally.
Valuing excellence, sustaining investment
We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working.