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Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships

  • 20 Nov 2019 3:47 PM
    Message # 8131679

    Position Title:

    Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships (Full Time)

    Position Description:

    The Morgan Library & Museum announces the creation of two new two-year curatorial fellowships, the Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships, to be awarded to promising scholars from communities historically underrepresented in the curatorial and special collections fields. Named for the Morgan’s first director, one of the most prominent American librarians and cultural leaders of the first half of the twentieth century and a woman of color, this full-time program will equip Fellows with a strong working knowledge of museum and special collections library operations and will provide Fellows with resources and mentorship to support them in their professional careers.

    The Morgan seeks candidates who are interested in working on specific projects as outlined below. The program will provide Fellows with experience in a variety of core curatorial activities, such as exhibition and publications planning, research on the collection and on potential acquisitions, the creation of public programs, and donor relations. Fellows will also have the opportunity to propose and curate their own installation in the museum. Fellows will join all departmental meetings as well as the Morgan’s Curatorial Forum, a monthly gathering of all curators and conservators. Regular interaction with colleagues in other departments, including the Thaw Conservation Center, will give each Fellow a good grounding in the key functional areas of a museum and special collections library. Travel funds will support Fellows’ professional development.


    Graduate degree in relevant field or equivalent professional experience required (see more details below). General qualifications include experience conducting archival research using primary sources, deep intellectual curiosity and versatility, and a demonstrated ability to work independently, collaboratively, and efficiently. Candidates should have excellent writing and public speaking skills.

    Compensation and Benefits
    $42,000 annually for two years (from September 2020 to August 2022); excellent benefits. Fellows will also have a travel budget of $1500 per year for research and for activities supporting their professional development, such as attendance at a conference.

    Project Proposals, by Department
    Applicants for the fellowship should describe their specific interests in, and qualifications for one or more of the departments listed below. 

    Drawings and Prints
    The Department of Drawings and Prints seeks a Fellow to work on one of a number of future exhibitions, depending upon the potential Fellow’s expertise: Claude Gillot and eighteenth-century French art; the drawings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir; a project focusing on art in seventeenth-century Rome; or a project looking at the work of Hendrick Goltzius and other northern artists around the year 1600. The Fellow would also take part in the research on the permanent collection and/or potential acquisitions and would have the opportunity to mount a small installation based on the Fellow’s specialty. Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in the history of art (PhD preferred). Other qualifications include superior research skills and a documented interest in works on paper.

    Literary and Historical Manuscripts
    The Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts (LHMS) seeks a Fellow to work on the research and planning for a major exhibition about the professional accomplishments of Belle da Costa Greene (1879–1950), the Morgan’s first director and a Black American woman. Greene chose to live as white, dropping the final r from her surname and adopting the middle name da Costa. As J. Pierpont Morgan’s private librarian and the first director of the Library, Greene built one of the country’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts and shaped many of the programs that have made the Morgan what it is today. The exhibition will feature outstanding medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, literary manuscripts and letters, rare books, drawings, prints, photographs, and objects from the Morgan’s permanent collection, each closely tied to Greene’s leadership and stewardship. Although the Fellow will be part of department of LHMS, the project will entail research and collaboration across all curatorial departments. Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in a related academic specialty such as art history, book history, medieval studies, cultural history, literature, or African American studies (PhD or MLS preferred). Other requirements include an interest in the history and development of American special collections libraries and museums; interest and academic coursework in African American studies and the history of race in America.

    Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
    A Fellow in the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts would focus on helping to reorganize a group of roughly 620 single leaves that have entered the Morgan’s collection. The Fellow will organize the leaves with respect to geography, chronology, and size; collaborate with the Morgan’s Thaw Conservation Center on leaves that need re-matting and/or re-housing; ensure that all leaves have been photographed; review and correct cataloging data; review and correct shelf lists; partner with Princeton’s Index of Medieval Art to update the iconographic indexing of recent acquisitions; and, having gained an intimate knowledge of the leaves, curate a small exhibition drawn from the single leaf collection. Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in history, art history, medieval studies, or other related field (PhD preferred). Other requirements include a demonstrated history of the study of medieval illuminated manuscripts and knowledge of Latin; working knowledge of French and/or German preferred.

    Modern and Contemporary Drawings
    A Fellow in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Drawings would be involved in the preparation of two important exhibitions: Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities, devoted to the early works of this Pakistani American artist (scheduled for summer 2021 and organized by the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design); and an exhibition of drawings by African American artists from the South recently acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation (fall 2021). In addition, the Fellow could take on several research projects on the permanent collection. Among these are, for instance, a group of early modern drawings that came into the collection with the bequest of the first director of the Morgan, Bella da Costa Greene; an ensemble of fifty drawings by American artist Paul Cadmus, acquired in 2005; or a group of drawings recently acquired from the Estate of poet John Ashbery, by several of his artist friends.  Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in the history of art (PhD preferred). The successful candidate will have substantial knowledge of modern and contemporary art and excellent research and organizational skills.

    A Fellow in the Department of Photography would focus on the Peter Hujar Collection, which includes materials awaiting close scholarly scrutiny, notably the artist’s correspondence and his contact sheets. While the roster of Hujar’s correspondents is known, and the letters of many of them, such as Paul Thek, have been transcribed or even published in whole or in part, some of the most extensive and potentially important holdings have yet to be systematically studied. Hujar’s photographic subjects, too, as revealed in his 5,000+ contact sheets, are incompletely catalogued, and the completion of this task will be of incalculable value to future scholars. A projected exhibition derived from a day-in-the-life interview Hujar gave in 1974 would require research in these two areas of the Hujar holdings. Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in the history of art (PhD preferred). Top candidates would demonstrate expertise in the entwined worlds of avant-garde art, dance, music, and photography in New York in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Printed Books and Bindings
    The Printed Books Department offers an opportunity to work with the Carter Burden Collection of American Literature. Around 9,000 volumes in all, it contains first editions, inscribed copies, proofs, and ephemera of twentieth-century American authors with particular strengths in the work of modernists such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and William Faulkner. Writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance and the Beat Generation are also well represented. The Fellow would help to upgrade cataloging records with full physical descriptions, bibliographical information, and notes on copy-specific features. The Fellow will receive instruction in online cataloging techniques. Candidates should hold or be in pursuit of an advanced degree in a related academic specialty such as literature, book history, or cultural history (PhD preferred); consideration will also be given to those holding MLS degrees. Other requirements include substantive knowledge of modern literature and American literary history, strong computer skills, and ability to work with accuracy and attention to detail.

    About the Morgan Library & Museum
    A museum and independent research library located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural benefactor Pierpont Morgan. The Morgan offers visitors close encounters with great works of human accomplishment in a setting treasured for its intimate scale and historic significance. Its collection of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings, and works of art comprise a unique and dynamic record of civilization, as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process from 4000 BC to the present.

    Generous support for the Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships is provided in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support is provided by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence R. Ricciardi.

    The Morgan is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed (religion), color, sex (including gender expression), national origin, sexual orientation, military status, age, disability, marital status or domestic violence victim status.

    Application Process:

    Fellows will be selected on a competitive basis via an application process. All application materials must be in English. Applications consisting of the following elements are due by December 31, 2019 via this form.

    • A cover letter addressing the candidate’s interest in a Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowship in one or more of the Morgan’s curatorial departments (listed below). The letter should discuss the applicant’s interest and qualifications in the department or departments’ subject area in general, and in the specific project or projects on offer.
    • A personal statement explaining how the applicant identifies with an underrepresented community and how the candidate would contribute to the multiplicity of narratives in the museum and special collections fields in the future.
    • A complete curriculum vitae, including language proficiencies
    • A writing sample (in English)
    • Names of three references

    Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. The Morgan will notify successful candidates of their selection in March 2020.


    December 31, 2019

Mailing Address:
DC Library Association
 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE
 Unit #: 1653
Washington, DC 20013
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