Curator of Hawaiian and Pacific Cultural Resources

Company Name: 

Bishop Museum


1525 Bernice St
Honolulu, HI 96817

Contact Name: 

Marques Marzan


808 847 8220


Job Description: 

Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 in honor of Bernice Pauahi, who was the great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, by her husband Charles Reed Bishop. Its original purpose was to house the royal family heirlooms of the Kamehameha Dynasty. Having expanded its mission over the course of more than 130 years, the Museum now stewards over 25 million cultural treasures and biological specimens, each of which provides evidence and gives voice to the stories of Hawai‘i and the broader Pacific. These include cultural artifacts, archaeological materials, historical photographs, films, works of art, audio recordings, books, manuscripts, and more than 22 million specimens of plant and animal life across seven scientific areas of study. Today, Bishop Museum is the world’s premier museum for Hawai‘i and the Pacific, recognized internationally for its primary source materials. This “library of life” and archive of Oceania cultural heritage connects the people of this region to their ancestors and chronicles changes in Hawai‘i and the Pacific over time and, in so doing, builds a bridge between the past and the future. Bishop Museum is located in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

Bishop Museum with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is launching a new program, Building a Pacific Pipeline: Bishop Museum & The Te Rangi Hīroa Pacific Curators and Caretakers Program. The program is designed to build capacity, develop indigenous curatorial practices, and diversify the pipeline of future cultural heritage professionals. In collaboration with the British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Te Papa Tongarewa, the program will open new pathways for historically underrepresented groups to pursue work in the museum field, and demonstrate how museums can change their practices and positively impact their communities.

The first phase of Building a Pacific Pipeline will increase staffing in Bishop Museum’s Cultural Resources Division by hiring two curators, a collections manager, and a collections technician to join a team that will represent a new generation of curators and caretakers who will steward the one of the best collections of Hawaiian and Pacific materials in the world. Bishop Museum is an ideal learning laboratory for examining how indigenous collections are understood, interpreted, and cared for. These four positions are permanent Bishop Museum positions.

The Curator of Hawaiian & Pacific Cultural Resources oversees Hawaiian & Pacific Cultural Resources in collaboration with division curators, including the management of collections and research programs. The Curator is responsible for initiating, developing, and directing original knowledge-generating projects that advance the understanding of the histories and perpetuation of the cultures of Hawai‘i and the Pacific as well as for invigorating collections, expanding access to scholars, practitioners, and community members both digitally and in person. He or she is also expected to actively participate in raising funds to support Museum initiatives; publish significant original scholarly works; build the Museum’s collections in existing areas of strength and identify new and contemporary areas for growth; actively engage community partners and participate in the Museum’s public programs through diverse forms of engagement whether digital or physical including talks, workshops, and curation of exhibits. Place-based and proximal to its communities, Bishop Museum and its staff are actively promoting diversity in the museum field and examining how museum collections are understood, interpreted and cared for from an indigenous perspective.

Duties and Responsibilities

-- Conducts original research that advances the understanding of the histories and cultures of the people of Hawai‘i and the Pacific through collections-based research and related activities.

-- Develops collections within area of specialization to improve and enhance the collections; oversees the work of Collection Manager(s) and provides general direction of collection management activities (collections care, preservation, loan processing, accessions, cataloging, etc.) to support curatorial priorities and objectives; develops knowledge and associated information of collections within specialized area of expertise, discipline, or practice.

-- Actively seeks and obtains financial support through grants, contracts, and other resources to further research and/or to support Museum programs and activities.

-- Curates exhibitions including planning and development of exhibition concepts and content as part of the Museum’s exhibition team.

-- Maintains a high level of publication productivity in original scholarly works related to the Curator’s field of expertise.

-- Collaborates with the Museum’s education, marketing, communications, and public relations teams in providing subject matter expertise and content for public engagement and institutional advancement.

-- Interacts and collaborates with research staff, affiliates, and volunteers working on knowledge-generating  projects.

-- Contributes significantly to operational planning which includes planning, development, and budgeting of immediate and long-term project goals and objectives for the department and within specific field of study.

-- Serves the Museum’s public programs goals through significant contributions in leading lectures, workshops, field trips, docent training, exhibit development to serve the Museum’s constituents.

-- Maintains affiliations in scholarly, professional and/or cultural organizations through active service (i.e., councils, committees, editorial review boards, funding review panels) and participation (i.e., conference attendance, panel discussions, community meetings, etc.), including presentations of significant and major works at regional, national or international gatherings, meetings, symposia, conferences, and workshops which enhances their development as a Museum professional, practitioner and representative.

-- Supervises others engaged in professional and/or knowledge-based activities and serves as affiliate faculty advisor to graduate level students working with Bishop Museum collections. May supervise others engaged in professional and/or knowledge-based activities. Potentially will serve as Co-Lead for Mellon project if funded.

-- With assistance and direction from the applicable senior executives, prepares and administers budgets pertaining to relevant department activities.

-- Interacts with staff and Museum constituencies with tact, courtesy, and unqualified respect at all times.  Stays motivated and projects a positive and professional attitude towards fellow workers and clients.  Cooperates and supports teamwork; maintains and strengthens relations.

-- Works in a safe manner so as not to endanger fellow staff members, volunteers, and visitors.  Complies with safety rules and regulations and establishes safe work practices.  Reads all safety materials received.  Promptly reports unsafe conditions ad unsafe acts or accidents to appropriate individual.  Maintains assigned work area and equipment free to accident-producing conditions.

-- Inspires and connects with diverse constituents to broaden scholarly reach and expand Museum audiences.

-- Performs other duties as requested to accomplish the goals of the Museum.