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Director of Curatorial Affairs

  • April 02, 2021 3:25 PM
    Message # 10266323

    April 2, 2021

    Director of Curatorial Affairs

    Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum 

    Centerport, NY  

    Supervisor: Executive Director  

    The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is currently seeking a Director of Curatorial Affairs 

    History 

    The Museum was created by William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), great-grandson of railroad magnate ‘Commodore’ Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), who built the New York Central Railroad and Grand Central Terminal in New York City and controlled many of the nation’s railroads between New York and Chicago.  

    Mr. Vanderbilt purchased 43 acres of waterfront land in Centerport, New York, and built his Eagle’s Nest Estate and 24-room waterfront Mansion in stages, between 1910 and 1936. The Mansion is one of the few great houses that remain of the more than 1,200 Gold Coast mansions built on the North Shore of Long Island from the 1890s through the 1930s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

    Mr. Vanderbilt created a marine museum, the Hall of Fishes, and opened it on a limited basis in 1922. It was the first stage of what became his larger museum complex. He traveled the world to collect thousands of specimens, including fish, insects, invertebrates, birds, and wild animals, along with cultural artifacts from Africa and the Pacific. The Vanderbilt Museum has the largest collection of privately assembled marine specimens from the pre-atomic era.  

    The Mansion – a remarkable museum in itself – preserves and exhibits a rare, privileged way of life from America’s Jazz Age through the Great Depression. The Vanderbilt has been called a “museum of a museum,” and it remains today just as it was when the family lived on the Estate, from the 1920s through Rosamond Vanderbilt’s death in 1947. Mr. Vanderbilt left the Estate and Museum to Suffolk County, New York. It was opened to the public in 1950. 

    General Statement of Duties 

    The Director of Curatorial Affairs maintains and preserves the more than 40,000 artifacts and specimens in the original museum collection and interprets their historic and cultural contexts. Mr. Vanderbilt’s legacy includes his Estate, Mansion, marine and natural history specimens, ethnographic artifacts, fine and decorative arts, archives, and household furnishings  

    Duties and Responsibilities 

    Manages Curatorial and Mansion staff, and the department’s policies, procedures, and budget. 

    Manages the Curatorial Department and all aspects of its operations and works in a collegial manner to build trust and respect in a team-centric department and throughout the Museum. 

    Develops civic, cultural, and philanthropic relationships to advance the Museum’s mission. 

    Represents the Museum by membership and active participation in professional museum organizations (regional and national) and, when necessary, at meetings and conferences given by those organizations.  

    Researches, authenticates, catalogs, and maintains original Museum artifacts and collections. 

    Prepares records of original artifacts, marine and natural history specimens, and ethnographic artifacts by updating and documenting the condition reports of all objects in the above-named collection subject areas – in accordance with American Alliance of Museums guidelines and accreditation requirements. 

    Acts as Collections Manager and Registrar for all artifacts and collections, and prepares documents for loan, acquisition, or deaccession of objects and specimens from such collections. 

    Plans, develops, implements (or assists with) production of exhibits, publications, educational programs, and events relating to original Museum artifacts, collections, or thematic disciplines that cover broad areas of marine and natural history.  

    Researches, authenticates, and interprets the life and times of the Vanderbilt family, including its historical importance, and its role in the study of the natural world and in global exploration. 

    Establishes historical contexts and thematic relationships for interpretive programs that relate to the former Vanderbilt Estate/Museum complex. 

    Prepares scripts for guided tours and interpretive programs relating to natural and marine sciences, and William Vanderbilt’s family history. 

    Assists with or prepares documentation and research relative to the Vanderbilt family, its Mansion and Estate, its original artifacts, and collections – and answers requests from the media, website, the public, Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum staff, and academic and scientific communities. 

    Prepares grant applications for departmental projects and exhibitions, administers awarded grants, submits required interim and final reports, and maintains proper documentation for Museum records. 

    Attends related meetings and functions and submits related articles of interest to the Museum newsletter. 

    Performs other museum duties as required. 

    Employment Type 

    Full Time/Salaried/Exempt/Part-Time Considered

    Qualifications 

    Graduate degree required (Ph.D. a plus) in museum studies, art history, anthropology, history, biology or marine sciences, or related field. 

    At least five years of experience in increasingly responsible curatorial and museum and collections-management positions (publications a plus). 

    An awareness of, and sensitivity to, the prime importance of maintaining the historic integrity of the Museum site. 

    Extensive knowledge of museum curatorial principles, practices, and procedures.  

    Excellent knowledge of conservation techniques, materials, and equipment. 

    Digital literacy required. Ability to use technology in all aspects to perform successfully within each curatorial function.  

    Superior interpersonal skills, and ability to participate as an integral member of the Museum’s professional staff. 

    Ability to communicate effectively  orally and in writing. 

    Please send cover letter and resume via email, subject line "Director of Curatorial Affairs" to:

    Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan 

    Executive Director

    Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum 

    Elizabeth@vanderbiltmuseum.org

    (631) 854-5550






The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

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