Curator of Native American Art

Seattle, WA
Full Time


OVERVIEW:                  Curatorial oversight of the display and interpretation of the Museum’s Native American, First Nations, Mesoamerican and Andean art collection.

SAM is dedicated to racial equity and strives for employees, volunteers, and interns who are passionate, qualified, and offer diverse perspectives. SAM prioritizes racial equity in the workplace because we know that people of color are the most impacted when it comes to inequities. We are particularly interested in engaging with historically under-represented groups in the museum field as we strive to be inclusive and equitable. SAM is responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and our strategic plan goals address the role art plays in empowering social justice and structural change to promote equity in our society.

FLSA STATUS:            Exempt                      

REPORTS TO:             Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art

COMPENSATION:       Associate Curator $65,291-$74,286 annual salary range

                                     Curator $86,915-$130,375 annual salary range

BENEFITS:       Full time employees are covered by medical, dental, vision, basic life insurance/LTD/AD&D. Employees are able to enroll in our company’s 403b plan. Employees will also receive ten days of sick leave and ten days of vacation leave every year, twelve paid holidays and one floating holiday throughout the calendar year. Additional benefits include subsidized transportation (ORCA business passport), access to fitness facility, and museum membership.


  1. Develop interpretive materials about the Museum’s Native American, First Nations, Mesoamerican and Andean art collection, including labels, wall texts, media presentations, gallery sheets, and publications. Ensure that all material reflects current standards of involvement and collaboration with these Indigenous communities.
  2. Advise and recommend art for acquisition by the Museum via its Committee on Collections. Ensure that acquisitions have been researched and documented to assure compliance with federal law and with other professional policies and guidelines for protection of cultural properties. These include provisions of the UNESCO Convention; the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); the Endangered Species Act; the AAMD Guidelines on the Acquisition of Archeological Materials and Ancient Art; and the AAMD Report on the Acquisition and Stewardship of Sacred Objects.
  3. Act as in-house curator for related traveling exhibitions. Work with Native American, First Nations, Mesoamerican and Andean advisory groups on the presentation, interpretation, and educational programs that accompany these exhibits and comply with DEAI standards. Review and select proposals from other museums and institutions for SAM.
  4. Develop original installations to highlight the Museum’s collection and complement it with material from outside sources as well as exhibition proposals of international significance.
  5. Work proactively to maintain communication and consultation between the Museum and Native American groups on Museum projects and NAGPRA issues, as well as non-NAGPRA issues with other Indigenous groups represented in the collection.
  6. Respond to inquiries regarding the Museum’s Art of the Americas collection, including offers of gifts from collectors and artists.
  7. Attend department meetings to keep up-to-date on issues and events.
  8. Act as SAM representative for NAGPRA: review developments and current communications regarding NAGPRA legislation; working with cross-departmental representatives, ensures Museum compliance.
  9. Collaborate with Education department staff on interpretive information for exhibitions, installations, and programs.
  10. Monitor and maintain accurate digital records for the collection as generated by the Museum's management database. 
  11. Prepare PowerPoint presentations about collections and exhibitions and lead discussions with the staff, trustees and public.
  12. Perform other duties as assigned. 


  1. Master’s degree in Art History or related field with an emphasis in Native American Art.
  2. Two years of experience as a curator or curatorial assistant and three years relevant museum experience preferred.
  3. Previous experience working with Native American art, communities, and representatives, in particular throughout the Pacific Northwest.
  4. Excellent written and oral communication skills; able to communicate effectively and project a professional image when giving and taking information in writing, in person, and over the phone.
  5. Demonstrated proficiency with and accuracy in using MS Office products, including Word, Excel, InDesign, Access, and other database and publishing software programs.
  6. Knowledge of selection, intrinsic and market value, conservation, and exhibition of works of art, and of the legal regulations governing collecting.
  7. Knowledge of Native American art history, cultural history, current cultural practices, and language.
  8. Ability to independently research objects and archives.
  9. Ability to assess priorities and work well under pressure; excellent time management, problem solving, and analytical skills.
  10. Ability to work with close attention to detail and to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information.
  11. Ability to work professionally and tactfully with the Board, donors, co-workers, volunteers, and the public,
  12. Ability to adhere to Museum policies and to support management decisions in a positive, professional manner.                                                                                                 


Exposure: Work areas are primarily inside, in a climate-controlled environment with light background noise. Work is occasionally performed at other indoor and outdoor sites. Position may require extended work hours, especially during exhibition preparations.


Stationary Work:  Approximately 70% of time is spent stationary while working at a desk. Balance of time (approximately 30%) is spent moving around the work area. Occasional extended periods of standing may be required when assisting at Museum events.

Communication:  Clear and effective communication with volunteers, donors, members, the public, and co-workers is necessary.

VisionCorrected vision close to 20/20 and color vision (red, green, and blue) are necessary to effectively use the computer screens and to view works of art.

Moving:  The ability to move up to twenty pounds on occasion is necessary for moving files, equipment, and supplies. Must be able to regularly position self to access files.

Office Work:  Ability to effectively and regularly operate a computer, keyboard, and other office productivity machinery, such as copy machines and printers, and ability to inspect, prepare and use paperwork, files, equipment, and supplies is necessary.

Don’t check off every box listed above? Please apply anyway! Studies have shown that marginalized communities - such as women, LGBTQ+ and people of color - are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. SAM is dedicated to building an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace that fosters a sense of belonging – so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to still consider submitting an application. You may be just the right candidate for this role or another one of our openings!

Centering equity, diversity, and inclusion as an organization, and as individuals, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is committed to ensuring that all employees and volunteers enjoy a respectful, inclusive, and welcoming workplace. SAM is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or any other protected class. 

Please contact the Human Resources Department at (206) 654-3188 or [email protected] for additional information or to request reasonable accommodations for the application or interview process.

Offers of employment are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check.

*Cover Letter Required - Please indicate whether you're applying to the Associate Curator role OR Curator role*

TO APPLY:   Please visit  to submit SAM employment application, cover letter and resume

Deadline: Until Filled


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