Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
Job Start Date
Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto, Canada
The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s celebrated international museum and houses important collections in art, culture and nature (www.rom.on.ca). The ROM is the largest museum in Canada, attracting, pre-COVID-19, more than 1.3 million visitors per year, with an annual operating budget of $65 million, and is a world leader in communicating its research and collections to the public. The ROM features 40 galleries and exhibition spaces in its original heritage building and its 2007 Michael Lee-Chin Crystal designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind. Toronto, the fourth-largest city in North America, is a cosmopolitan, diverse city of 2.8 million people on Lake Ontario. The Greater Toronto Area has a population of 6.2 million in 2020 and is growing. One of the most livable cities in the world, Toronto is ranked as the safest metropolitan area in North America.
The ROM has a new position for a dynamic, creative and entrepreneurial leader with a track record of research, publications, and public engagement around the issues of climate change, to launch a unique, trans-disciplinary and outward-facing initiative focused on the most critical issue of our time. With access to a wide array of expertise and world-renowned collections, the endowed Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change will create a vital public platform that establishes the ROM as a thought leader on the scientific, cultural and social issues of the climate crisis. The inaugural Shiff Curator will have the unparalleled opportunity to envision, shape and grow an interdisciplinary Climate Initiative, joining with regional, global and international partners to engage audiences of all ages on the complex and myriad impacts of climate change on the planet and on humanity. The successful candidate will have a record of scientific research and the ability to become the driving force behind a greater understanding of the climate crisis, informed by their own research and disciplinary expertise.
Candidates should have a commitment to fact-based, public communication of environmental and ecological issues, recognizing the connections between the environment, social and economic sustainability, human health, and inequality. They will be a specialist in some aspect of the sciences relevant to the climate crisis and have a deep respect for interpreting and exhibiting museum collections, including traditional, digital or living collections, and cultural heritage. Candidates should have the ability to inspire a vision for what the ROM can do to elucidate the most relevant issue of our day, leveraging museum resources to catapult the ROM into a position of world leadership on this issue.
The Curator should enjoy working with teams of colleagues and be adept at building partnerships with internal collaborators as well as external communities, including donors, collectors, scientists, scholars, policy specialists, government agencies, and global experts. Candidates will be expected to work in sensitive ways with ROM collections and community-owned and multicultural heritage, including, for example, heritage belonging to, or originating in, Indigenous communities.
Opportunities of the Position
The Shiff Curator position provides an exciting opportunity to advocate for solutions to the most important environmental issue of our time, with impact on future generations. The Shiff Curator will leverage the ROM’s extensive public platform to advocate for science and factual insights, with a goal to have great impact on public perception and to inspire action on the climate crisis. This unique curatorial role affords a chance to use the ROM’s enormous reach (1.3M visitors annually, more online), scale (largest museum in Canada, $65M budget), and renowned trans-disciplinary expertise on the natural world, science, art and culture, to advocate for trans-disciplinary solutions to problems that cut across humanity and the natural world.
The ROM Curator will be expected to:
• Be a dynamic and effective communicator.
• Have a passion for seizing this moment to engage the public in an ongoing manner on this central issue, so critical to the well-being and long-term sustainability of humankind.
• Foster evidence-based dialogue, critical research, exhibitions and public engagement on the climate crisis.
• Lead collaboratively within exhibition teams and with educators, programmers and designers to integrate climate change issues into current and future development, interpretation, and installation of special exhibitions and permanent galleries.
• Conduct original research and create impactful public programs, panels, and publications that engage experts and audiences, and enhance recognition of the urgent issues of climate change.
• Participate in the teaching mission of the museum through optional university teaching and/or through supervision of graduate students and interns, and by catalyzing relevant public-education programs.
• Participate in fundraising activities to support the growth and development of the ROM’s climate crisis initiatives and programming.
• Create a 5-year plan aligned with the ROM’s Strategic Plan for sustained public engagement around climate change, including measurable annual goals, key benchmarks, and an evaluation plan.
• Maintain professional affiliations in scholarly, scientific and museum curatorial organizations, professional societies, and relevant committees.
Education & Experience:
• A high-level, practising scientist (PhD or equivalent) who has achievements in the field (or lab), has published and has embarked on a successful career, and is now interested in having a more public-facing role.
• A record of peer-reviewed publications or catalogues.
• Suitable credentials for cross-appointment to the University of Toronto are considered a strong asset.
• A strong ability to engage with the public and be a good public speaker.
• Experience within a large trans-disciplinary museum, NGO or government department, or a related environment is desired, including working with internal and external stakeholders and partners.
• International, cross-cultural and/or Indigenous experience is a plus.
• Experience in government relations is an asset, as is past experience with museum exhibitions.
• Ability to multi-task and handle competing demands within a large, multi-layered, and active 21st-century museum.
• Ambitious for the institution and its efforts to develop strong networks into the local, national and global communities, and with established international scholars and institutions.
• An interest in leveraging trans-disciplinary possibilities and programs to build collaborative partnerships internally and externally.
• Intellectually curious with an appetite to engage on a broad array of topics.
• Strong and sensitive leadership skills; confident and articulate, and with high integrity.
• Socially and politically adept, with high emotional intelligence.
• Strong team player.
• Deep commitment to the social purpose of museums as engines of research and new knowledge, community engagement, and lifelong education, and as positive actors in society.
• Committed to systemic, transformative change to build a sustainable future in the face of the climate crisis.
• Sensitive to cultural heritage and multicultural diversity.
Compensation (governed by Collective Agreement):
• $67,144 CAD to $143,367 CAD per annum (commensurate with rank and experience).
• Full benefit coverage includes medical and dental plan, life insurance, long-term disability, and generous pension.
• NOTE: This is a unionized position and the Curator will be a member of the ROM Curatorial Association (ROMCA).
Nominations are welcome.
To apply in confidence, email 1) a letter expressing interest in this particular position and giving brief examples of past related experience; 2) a curriculum vitae; and 3) names of three references with contact information. Submit application by December 18, 2020, to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman or Lora Urbanelli, Museum Search & Reference, at SearchandRef@museum-search.com. For additional information, visit: http://museum-search.com/open-searches/.
The ROM will begin reviewing applications on or about January 29, 2021; the posting will continue until the position is filled. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply for this international search; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.
Short-listed candidates subsequently will be asked to provide publication or work samples.
The ROM is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. Upon request, suitable accommodations are available under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to applicants invited to an interview.