Job Posting 73060

Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art
Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver & Lower Mainland
closed 6 days ago (Fri, 30 Jul)
full time  •  Commensurate with experience






The Vancouver Art Gallery, one of the largest art museums in Canada, and the largest arts organization in Western Canada, is undergoing a multi-phase organizational transformation. With a permanent collection of over 12,000 works of art, the Gallery is implementing a campaign to build a new purpose-built gallery facility in downtown Vancouver, the Chan Centre for Visual Arts. This is a moment of growth, exploration and innovation, as the Gallery re-articulates its relationship to community and audiences to re-imagine what an art museum in the 21st century can be. The Gallery is seeking an experienced curator and researcher for the new and endowed position of Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art.




The work involves creating new knowledge through the primary activity of research and sharing that research with the public in a variety of forms including exhibitions, publications, and learning and interpretive initiatives. Responsibilities include undertaking original research into the permanent collection and proposed acquisitions; nurturing relationships with artists, collectors, educators, donors and the public; and representing the Gallery among regional, national and international associations and communities.


As a member of the management team, this position works with all areas of the Gallery and critically contributes to long-term strategic planning for the organization, anticipating challenges and developing long-term opportunities and sustainability. In accordance with the Gallery’s Mission, Vision and strategic and business plans, this position plays a role in guiding the organization’s ongoing operations and evaluation, serving a leadership role in creating a positive work environment, enabling staff to contribute their best, fostering an appreciation for the arts and a culture of philanthropy.


The incumbent has a senior role in the Curatorial department and is responsible for researching, developing, and executing exhibitions, as well as building on the collection of Canadian Art within the Gallery’s holdings. They will have in-depth understanding of art from the 19th and 20th centuries in Canada including a thorough knowledge of Indigenous Art.


The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will engage with contemporary ideas and issues, articulate the relevance of art collections to the public today, and participate in negotiating a revitalized role for art museums and galleries in the 21st century through innovation, consultation, collaboration and partnerships with a visitor-centric and public-facing approach.


Duties are performed under the direction of the Chief Curator/Associate Director, who oversees the exhibition programming. Within these parameters, the Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art is expected to develop projects both independently and collaboratively that display innovation, curiosity and a firm grasp of critical issues in the field. The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will endeavour to create a diverse and balanced program within their area of expertise, and work collaboratively and within the context of the overall Gallery objectives as well as the department of Public Programs and Education.


The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will work closely with the Development department to cultivate support for the Gallery, including donations of artwork and financial contributions, and will manage an ongoing group of development prospects as part of their ongoing activities.


Strategic Plan and Objectives


  1. Canadian Art

The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will contribute to a sustained development of historical and contemporary Canadian Art including Indigenous art, strengthening the VAG’s growing reputation as an international leader in the art of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in a global context.


  1. Community Engagement

The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will articulate a compelling narrative that integrates curatorial excellence and interpretive, learning and engagement practices from conception to implementation, with a focus on visitor experience and building meaningful connections with diverse communities. The candidate will demonstrate innovative approaches to bridging curatorial practice with community engagement and be instrumental in growing diverse audiences for the museum.


  1. Research and Education

The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art will have demonstrated experience in curating, research and pedagogy, and be comfortable in addressing a range of educational and literacy modes and opportunities from youth to life-long-learners. This position will provide support to the post-secondary academic community as a recognized leader in the visual arts nationally and contribute to university-level initiatives and funding opportunities. A thorough knowledge of fine arts research, including demonstrated familiarity and success with practice-based research coordination, and advanced education funding opportunities that will assist the Gallery in extending its scope and diversifying revenue and research-oriented outcomes. The candidate should have a track record of publication in the arts. As supervisor of the Gallery Library and Librarian, should have a good knowledge of library and archival practices and processes.


  1. Administration, Supervision and Development

The candidate will have experience in supervising staff, and building, monitoring and reporting on budgets and grant applications. They are comfortable with principals of fund-development and philanthropy and have demonstrated competency in partnerships and donor relationships, based on trust, respect, accountability, and transparency.





  1. Visualizes projects based on desired outcomes and research objectives, establishes ideal format for research outcome (exhibition/event/publication, etc.), scope and sites (Gallery/site-specific, online) for programs, taking into account operational requirements, limitations and needs.
  2. Works with appropriate staff across departments, ensures seamless accordance of curatorial, education, engagement and communication strategies from a visitor-centric perspective.




  1. Initiates exhibition proposals and develops exhibitions of Canadian historical and contemporary art. Exhibition proposals are consulted with the Chief Curator/ Associate Director and the CEO & Director to determine feasibility for the Vancouver Art Gallery, and follow the Gallery’s outlined exhibition planning process. Exhibitions should be developed from both the permanent collection as well as public and private collections (loans), as well as developing collaborations with regional, national and international partners.
  2. Plans and develops the exhibition content and narrative, including list of works and floorplan.
  3. Conceptualizes and develops the interpretative scheme for the exhibition, working in collaboration with related Gallery staff. Researches, writes, and reviews interpretive materials collaboratively, working to the prescribed schedule.
  4. Liaises with other institutions regarding traveling / partner exhibitions and co-ordinates arrangements for their display at the Gallery. Ensures all agreements, contracts, and approvals are secured with partner organizations and others associated with projects.
  5. Ensures that all loans are requested and secured in accordance with agreed schedule. Works closely with Exhibition Registrar, providing information needed to determine transport plans, insurance and safety requirements.
  6. Works with the Curatorial Coordinator and others to monitor exhibition, touring and publication timelines and expenditures are within approved budget.
  7. Develops exhibition design and works with relevant Museum Services staff to ensure design is feasible within timeline and budget, coordinating the installation development through the steps of the Exhibition Process.
  8. Writes texts for publications (print and/or online) as well as Gallery materials; liaises with Publications Coordinator and/or Assistant Curator on all aspects of exhibition publications for relevant projects. Monitors and ensures that Gallery brand is adhered to in design and communications.
  9. Provides exhibition and non-exhibition related information for Exhibition Briefs and other documents as requested to Public Programs, Development, Marketing and Communications staff for planning purposes. Works collaboratively with Education and Public Programs staff on programming, with Development on sponsorship proposals and fundraising, and with Marketing on communication materials.



Supervises Gallery Librarian and Audain Curator of BC Art, guests’ curators, and provides leadership and mentorship among Gallery staff including supervising assistant curators; supervises curatorial fellows, students, interns and visiting researchers.


Trains, delegates, evaluates, and supervises staff, acting as a role model to foster the best performance of employees and fostering a positive work environment.

  1. Supervises staff;
  2. Evaluates staff performance and provides ongoing constructive feedback and encouragement to staff;
  3. Assigns staff schedules;
  4. Provides staff with appropriate and ongoing training;
  5. Establishes performance standards and monitoring of staff performance, following the principles of progressive discipline when necessary;
  6. Inspects work performed by staff to ensure approved standards are being met;
  7. Coach, model and ensure that staff practice quality customer service;
  8. Set clear, results oriented goals with realistic and measurable outcomes;
  9. Assist staff within the department to develop the necessary skills to be successful within the organization;
  10. Support and encourage initiatives within the department.




  1. Researches artworks in the Gallery’s collection to consider opportunities for scholarship and publication, as well as exhibitions.
  2. Considers loan requests for works in the collection by other museums, including relevance of request, makes recommendations to Curatorial team and CEO.
  3. The incumbent researches specific works of art or artists to determine their relevance or importance to the collection, including opportunities for acquisition and deaccession. Identifies potential acquisitions for the collection and assesses the desirability of works of art offered to the Gallery as proposed gifts and purchases; researches provenance; maintains close ties with collecting community including private collectors, dealers, auction house; prepares written documentation on collection, including recommendations for purchase or donations to the Chief Curator and CEO and as needed for Cultural Properties applications.
  4. Collaborates with Registrars and Conservators for the long-term care and stewardship of the he collection as well as treatment plans.




  1. Represents the Gallery locally, nationally and internationally; giving lectures on exhibitions and the collection; sharing research with the academic and international art communities; participates as requested in exhibition openings, talks, juries, panels, conferences and seminars where relevant.
  2. Participates in the development of Public Programs, as requested and in development with the Director of Education and Public Programs and related staff.
  3. Participates in fundraising requests, as requested by the Chief Development Officer and Chief Curator, in conjunction with the Development Department and CEO & Director office.
  4. The Curator shall write an annual plan, budget and report to honour the terms of the Agreement for the Endowment for the Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art, and participate in such reporting and meetings as required to manage the endowment in consultation with the Advisory Committee. The report should include the accomplishments for the current year, as well as plans for the upcoming year.
  5. Oversees, tracks and manages the Endowment Fund of the Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art in conjunction with senior administrative and financial staff including the CEO.



  1. Extensive research in art from the 19th and 20th centuries in Canada with considerable knowledge of Indigenous contemporary and historical art locally, nationally and internationally.
  2. Maintains a broad knowledge of global art history and general understanding of critical contemporary issues and can link historical research to contemporary issues and ideas.
  3. Demonstrates ability to develop ideas for exhibitions and/or to coordinate exhibitions projects according to the specified objectives in accordance with the long-range plans of the Gallery.
  4. Considerable knowledge of the methods and techniques required to conduct research, develop and install exhibitions in a museum context.
  5. Ability to introduce projects that activate art of the past from a contemporary perspective and with the understanding of broad general audiences as well as scholarly contexts.
  6. Working knowledge of the practices and approaches for building a permanent collection as well as experience working with public and private collectors locally, regionally, and nationally. Understanding of museum standards and issues as they relate to a historical collection.
  7. Ability to conduct research for acquisitions, with demonstrated experience securing gifts and donations, as well as making acquisitions, familiarity with Cultural Properties applications and processes.
  8. Ability to work cooperatively, creatively and communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
  9. Ability to research and write for many purposes, prepare catalogues related to exhibitions and to inspire others through words and actions.
  10. Ability to exercise good judgement in a dynamic environment.
  11. Ability to demonstrate initiative and work as part of a team, including previous experience in supervising staff.



  1. Graduate-level university degree in Art History, PhD preferred, and five to ten years of experience in an art gallery or museum or equivalent training and experience.
  2. Established knowledge and credentials (as recognized by peers) in contemporary Canadian and North American Indigenous art.
  3. A track-record of published writing. Experience overseeing the design and production of print and web-based materials and publications.
  4. Ability to express ideas and concepts effectively, orally and writing, including the ability to prepare and present oral, written and audio-visual reports of a specialized nature and the ability to create persuasive case to garner support for key programs and projects. Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain respectful and effective working relationships with staff, co-workers and volunteers.
  5. Demonstrated skill in the use of a computer using the Microsoft Office Suite and collection management systems.
  6. An additional language is an asset.


Please email your resume and cover letter to the Director of Human Resources by 4 pm PST on Friday, July 30, 2021.  Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 2H7, email


We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those short-listed will be contacted. The posting will remain open until the position is filled.

Preference will be given to Indigenous people of North America including, but not limited to, those that identify as First Nations, Metis, Inuit, Alaskan Native, and Native American.

Vancouver Art Gallery commits to providing equitable access to everyone. We actively support accessibility, anti-racism, LGBTQ2S+ inclusion, and encourage diversity in our staff, volunteers, visitors and programming. We cultivate a safer space where all voices are heard, valued and represented

Please Note: is not affiliated with and in no way endorses or vets the organization that posted this job. Any links posted within the job will take you to their external site where the same disclaimer applies.

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