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Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections, Boston Athenaeum

The Trustees of the Boston Athenæum are committed to elevating the profile of the Special Collections for public enjoyment and for research. The organization seeks an accomplished, inspiring leader to head this effort, while also serving as curator of rare books—the core collection of more than 150,000 volumes, primarily American and European, focused in the humanities. The curatorial responsibilities comprise the majority of the role.

The successful candidate will be an intellectually agile curator and effective manager, committed to realizing the full potential of the Athenæum’s extraordinary holdings across a spectrum of rare materials—from rare books, maps, and manuscripts, to prints, drawings, and photographs, to paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. S/he will work with colleagues from across the organization to integrate access to, research into, and presentation of the Special Collections. S/he will have a record of success in cultivating donors and raising funds for Special Collections projects.

Reporting Structure:
The position will report to, and work closely with, the Athenæum’s Stanford Calderwood Director. As a member of the Director’s Cabinet of division heads (Special Collections, Technical Services, Reader Services, Education, Operations, Finance, and Systems), the Head of Special Collections will play a leadership role in developing and reviewing plans to address strategic opportunities and in realizing the Director’s and Board’s vision for the future of the Athenæum.

The Head will lead an accomplished curatorial team, while serving as an active participant. Three full-time curators—the Susan Morse Hilles Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture and Director of Exhibitions, the Curator of Prints and Photographs, and the Assistant Curator of Special Collections—will report to the position. Four other regular participants in Special Collections projects (the Polly Thayer Starr Curatorial Fellow in Paintings & Sculpture, the Caroline D. Bain Archivist, the National Endowment for the Humanities Librarian in Charge of Technical Services, and the William D. Hacker Head of Reader Services) report to others.

The Head of Special Collections will also supervise a part-time grant-funded research assistant and occasional student interns. S/he will work routinely and constructively with colleagues from all areas of the organization, including Technical Services, Education, Reader Services, Conservation, Digital Programs, Systems, Facilities, Security, and Finance.

While the Athenæum will consider applicants with other credentials, the MLIS from an ALA-accredited academic institution (or its international equivalent) and an advanced degree in a humanities discipline relevant to the Athenaeum’s collections, or a Ph.D. in a directly relevant discipline and training in bibliography and book history are strongly preferred. A minimum of six years’ progressively responsible directly relevant rare books’ curatorial experience in a research library, museum, or comparable cultural institution.

TO APPLY: Please submit a cover letter to, expressing interest and outlining relevant experience; curriculum vitae; sample publication, preferably of no more than 20 pages in length; and the names and contact information of two professional references. Review of materials will begin on August 30, 2017, and continue until the position is filled.

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