Curator of Japanese and Korean Art

Seattle, WA
Full Time


OVERVIEW:                   Serves as curator of Japanese and Korean art, including: judging the authenticity and artistic value, and overseeing the care and presentation, of Japanese and Korean art collections from the prehistoric age to the 21st century; conceiving, organizing, and producing art exhibitions and installations; and building, researching, publishing and lecturing on the permanent Asian collection at the museum. Works with museum colleagues across three locations, collectors, and Board of Trustees to maximize the potential of the collection.

                                        This position may be hired at the Associate Curator | Assistant Curator | Curator level, depending on the qualifications and experience of selected candidate. Compensation will be in line with the level of the position.

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: Deputy Director for Art

COMPENSATION:           Curator $86,915-$130,375 annual salary DOE  

                                         Associate Curator $65,291-$74,286 annual salary DOE

                                         Assistant Curator $52,000-$61,000 annual salary DOE

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. Research and document the Museum’s collection of Japanese and Korean art for object identification, display purposes, and publication. Consult with scholars, colleagues, dealers, and collectors.
  2. Develop acquisition strategic plan; actively seek out and identify works and assist with fundraising for acquisitions. Cultivate collectors for possible gifts. Present potential acquisitions to Committee on Collections. Keep abreast of market availability and prices. Compile records for cataloguing and object identification. 
  3. Oversee and ensure professional care of permanent collection and loans with Registrar and Conservation Department; work with Conservation to identify conservation needs and treatment; work with Conservation and Museum Services to establish priorities for framing, mounting, and storage. Provide values for insurance purposes. Serve as a courier when appropriate. Identify objects for deaccessioning and manage the deaccessioning process.


  1. Organize exhibitions: identify themes that are of public and scholarly interest; prepare and manage budgets; research and write publications such as books, catalogues, articles, etc.; contact colleagues, private collectors, and others to identify materials that might be appropriate for exhibition; arrange loans through the Museum Services Department;  participate in exhibition advisory meetings and other processes to comply with DEAI standards; collaborate with Development Department in writing grant proposals and seeking corporate and private support; collaborate with Education Division on interpretation and programming; assist with marketing materials and participate with press as needed. Seek out and implement exhibitions organized by other institutions.
  2. Oversee installations: choose appropriate themes; prepare and manage budget; identify loans from collections to augment permanent collection display; work with design team to prepare layouts and during installation.
  3. Write for in-gallery needs at level required for a range of audiences, including text panels, exhibition labels, gallery guides, etc. Share and present materials with Education, docents, and volunteers.


  1. Ensure increased community awareness, interest, and appreciation of Asian arts by conducting lectures, tours, and seminars. Build Museum’s reputation by collaborating with colleagues in other institutions, publishing in the field, and/or presenting papers at conferences.
  2. Work closely with collectors, sharing expertise and encouraging high level of collecting.
  3. Maintain contacts with visual arts institutions. Participate in regional, national, and international professional activities as appropriate.
  4. Increase the level of community awareness, interest, and appreciation for art and the Museum.
  5. Working with Development, assist fundraising efforts of the Museum in support of artistic program. Provide themes and text for grant reports; consult with experts in the field as advisors or contributors to grant projects. Establish long-term relationships with patrons; serve as primary contact when approaching patrons for support.
  6. Collaborate with the University of Washington faculty advisory group to develop lectures and other programs for the Museum’s Gardner Center for Art and Ideas.


  1. Collaborate with curators across three SAM locations and with colleagues in various Museum departments as appropriate.
  2. Co-supervise SAAM departmental assistant. Select and supervise candidates for the Frances Blakemore & Griffith Way Internship for Japanese and Korean art.
  3. Create and manage departmental and exhibition budgets; help obtain funding, assist in writing proposal texts and reports for grants.
  4. Attend, participate in, and lead relevant meetings.
  5. Work with the Board of Trustees and outside organizations as required.
  6. Conform to the code of ethics governing the museum profession. Adhere to Museum policies and support management decisions in a positive and professional manner.
  7. Represent the Museum with a high level of integrity and professionalism.
  8. Other duties as assigned.


  1. Ph.D. in Art History or related field with an emphasis in Japanese and Korean art highly preferred; consideration given to candidates with M.A. degree and extraordinary museum experience.
  2. Minimum four years of relevant museum experience required.
  3. First-hand experience judging the authenticity and artistic value, and overseeing the care and preservation, of Japanese and Korean paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, lacquerware, and decorative arts from the prehistoric age to the 21st century; and conceiving, organizing, and producing exhibitions.
  4. Knowledge of selection, intrinsic and market value, conservation, and exhibition of works of art, and of museum ethics and the legal regulations governing collecting.
  5. Knowledge of Japanese/Korean art and cultural history and languages.
  6. Excellent interpersonal, written and oral communication skills; ability to communicate effectively and project a professional image when giving and taking information in writing, in person, and over the phone and Zoom.
  7. Demonstrated proficiency and accuracy using MS Office products, including Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, and other software programs such as The Museum System (TMS).
  8. Ability to take initiative and prioritize tasks; excellent time-management, problem-prevention, and problem-solving skills.
  9. Organizational ability with strong management and supervisory skills.
  10. Ability to work with close attention to detail and to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information.
  11. Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain effective relationships with Board members, key donors, executives, management, colleagues, and the public


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.  Extended work hours may be required, especially during exhibition preparations.


Stationary Work:  Approximately 60% of time is spent stationary while working at a desk. Balance of time (approximately 40%) 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.

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

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

Deadline: Until Filled


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