Director of Curatorial Affairs

Company Name: 

Oakland Museum of California


1000 Oak Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Contact Name: 

Museum Management Consultants, Inc.


Job Description: 

About the Museum

As stated in its mission, the purpose of OMCA is, “To inspire all Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities.” The Museum is a blend of art, history, and natural science and is grounded in the belief that a museum should be welcoming and inclusive, making a difference by offering everyone access to inspiration, learning, and creativity. Industry research, and the Museum’s own audience research, reflects that audiences are deeply interested in learning about different cultures, want to connect their own identity to other cultures, and are seeking distinctive and inspiring experiences. Against this backdrop, OMCA completed an eight-year $63 million capital renovation project and unveiled completely transformed core collection galleries in 2013. The goals and approaches for the galleries were developed in response to intensive visitor evaluation and prototyping and were designed to make OMCA a more welcoming, accessible, and relevant cultural facility for a very broad and diverse community.


The Museum has also undergone profound organizational changes with the transition from the City of Oakland to independent governance and operation in 2011. This transition from the City coincided with the complete restructuring of the staff organization with the intent of truly placing the visitor at the center of the institution and breaking down the traditional silos of discipline, function, and expertise that have defined most museums for more than 100 years. Thus, while OMCA is approaching its 50th anniversary, it is in some ways, a start-up organization with the need to evolve and mature many of the existing structures, systems, and the culture itself.


Looking to the future, OMCA envisions being the heart of a thriving community and a statewide leader. OMCA seeks to be Oakland’s public square and gathering space; a catalyst for the vitality of the region; and indispensable to the community, its residents, and its visitors.


The Museum has an annual operating budget of $15 million and employs 150 staff. OMCA staff is organized into four interdisciplinary function centers including the CEDC, the Center for Audience and Civic Engagement, the Center for Philanthropy and Institutional Advancement, and the Center for Administration and Business Operations. The CEDC has approximately 50 staff and an annual operating budget of $5 million.


About Oakland

Oakland is the heart of the East Bay region in the San Francisco Bay Area and the most ethnically diverse major city in the United States. Surrounded by 19 miles of coastline to the west and rolling hills to the east, Oakland covers 54 square miles, has a population of over 419,000 (and a population of approximately 7.65 million in the greater San Francisco Bay Area), and is the eighth largest city in California.  Its diverse population, temperate climate, thriving arts and culture scene, dramatically growing downtown, vibrant waterfront, world-class restaurants, popular professional sports teams, and myriad parks and open spaces make Oakland a dynamic place to live and work.


Today, Oakland is experiencing a renaissance as it seeks to balance diversity and equity, proud heritage and emerging energy – all while retaining heart and soul. Perhaps no single place is better positioned to support a thriving Oakland than OMCA – welcoming all, dedicated to making a difference, providing a joyful, inclusive, thought-provoking environment for dialogue and discovery.



The Director of Curatorial Affairs will report to the Director of the CEDC. The position will serve as a thought partner to Center leadership, strategic and motivational leader to the curatorial staff, partner to Collections colleagues, and effective collaborator across the Museum to provide dynamic, inspiring, and meaningful visitor experiences that create a positive social impact and enhance OMCA’s financial sustainability. Responsibilities include:

Core Gallery and Exhibition Responsibilities

  • Lead the creation of the vision and strategy for the core galleries in collaboration with the CEDC Director and Director of Exhibition Strategy and Senior Curator of Art
  • Lead the development of both multi-year and annual plans for core gallery activities that meet OMCA’s business and mission priorities – includes balancing the creation of compelling visitor experiences with responsible collection management/care and meeting the mission and business needs of the organization; collaborating with leadership in Public Programs and Learning Initiatives to develop core gallery related programming; collaborating with colleagues in Collections and Production to ensure activities can be achieved within institutional resources
  • Develop in partnership with the curatorial team, experience developers, and outside collaborators, new models of participatory, visitor-centered gallery experiences and exhibitions based on research, evaluation, and visitors’ diverse learning styles and motivations; partner with leadership colleagues in the CEDC to develop exhibition ideas that will meet institutional priorities, and to prepare and assess proposals and business cases for major projects
  • Supervise and support curatorial participation throughout the process of exhibition proposal development and implementation

Collection Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with Collections colleagues to define the focus of curatorial collections work and to ensure quality and consistency of collection research and documentation; lead curatorial acquisitions and loans monthly meeting
  • Implement the Museum’s Collecting Plan and Policies in collaboration with Collections colleagues to determine focus and direction on large scale collections and deaccession projects
  • In partnership with the Director of Collections, negotiate the evolving relationship of access and security in presentation of Museum collections
  • Cultivate and steward lender and donor relationships with Center for Philanthropy and Institutional Advancement, CEO, and CEDC Director; identify new donor prospects amongst local collectors, businesses, and philanthropists

Project Management and Administration

  • Lead and serve on cross-functional teams and committees
  • Participate in Center and cross-institutional priority setting, and strategic and annual business planning
  • Direct and supervise the day-to-day activities of the curators including priority setting, coaching, and performance management; participate in OMCA’s performance management and staff development programs
  • Develop, negotiate, and monitor professional services contracts
  • Recruit, supervise, coach and train project collaborators, staff, volunteers and interns
  • Contribute to the development, writing, implementation and reporting of major grants; participate in the development of corporate and other partnership proposals
  • Contribute to the development and writing of public relations and external communications materials as needed
  • Cultivate a network and community of experts, thought and cultural leaders, and change makers as potential future collaborators and partners
  • Keep abreast of developments in the fields of California history, art, natural science exhibitions, museums and related events; stay current with general museum news nationally and internationally
  • Engage in public outreach in the form of lectures, tours, research assistance and media appearances and serve as a spokesperson for the Museum with general public and media


Ideal Candidate Characteristics

The ideal candidate will possess a combination of the following:

  • Innovative and collaborative leadership in museum field specifically related to curatorial, collections, and exhibition development work
  • Effective administrative and management skills; high level of initiative; creative and flexible problem solving skills supported by a record of accomplishment
  • A passion for OMCA’s visitor centered mission and vision
  • Knowledge of and interest in progressive trends in museums
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Ability to think and work across disciplines
  • Entrepreneurial spirit to grow and change OMCA



A minimum 7-10 years of related experience and 4 years leadership experience.  Possession of a Master’s degree in a related field, such as museum studies, history or equivalent work experience is required.



Compensation will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. A benefits package will also be provided.


Procedure for Application

Individuals interested in applying for this position should send a resume and letter of interest to:

Museum Management Consultants, Inc.


Position open until filled