Ellyn McColgan Assistant Curator, Native American Art

At an exciting moment for our Art of the Americas Department, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston seeks a creative, energetic, and dynamic curator and scholar to become the inaugural Ellyn McColgan Assistant Curator of Native American Art. The ideal candidate will help shape the institution’s commitment to Native American art and culture; build, display, and interpret the collection through innovative exhibitions, installations, and public programs; and work with colleagues across the MFA to build sustainable partnerships with Indigenous communities.

Diné weavings, Zuni Pueblo pottery, and Apsáalooke beadwork have been part of the MFA's collection since the Museum first opened to the public in the 1870s. Largely missing, however, are examples of Eastern Woodlands objects representing the homelands of the Massachusett, on which the MFA and the city of Boston were founded, and neighboring Algonquian-speaking peoples. Today, the growing collection represents a broad diversity of Indigenous art from across the landscapes now known as the United States and Canada, from the historical to the contemporary. Works of Ancestral Puebloan ceramics represent some of the earliest surviving forms of art made in the Americas. Ledger drawings by Silver Horn (Haungooah) are an important highlight of the 19th-century holdings, which also includes a range of objects made for trade with European settlers, such as Mi’kmaq quillwork, Pueblo pottery and weaving, and Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) carvings.   The Museum recently received a major gift of 20th-century Inuit prints and sculptures, and acquired works by living artists including Wendy Red Star, D.Y. Begay, and Jaune Quick-To-See Smith.

The Art of the Americas department is embarking on a series of new initiatives to transform the visibility and interpretation of these collections, and to build stronger relationships with local Indigenous communities. These initiatives include The Garden for Boston, a major new commission that engages an Aquinnah Wampanoag artist in reinterpreting the MFA’s façade and front lawn; a series of public programs about the history of the land the Museum occupies; and a series of new installations that bring works by Indigenous artists in dialogue with paintings, decorative arts, and sculpture by non-Native artists. The McColgan Assistant Curator will participate in these projects and also work with colleagues to identify future priorities and opportunities, and more broadly reimagine the way the Indigenous collections are presented in the Art of the Americas Wing.

Requirements and Candidate Profile

  • A Master’s or PhD in Art History or related field with a proven focus on Native American art.
  • Two to three years experience in a museum or comparable institution.
  • Demonstrated curatorial ability through culturally-meaningful exhibitions, gallery displays, programs or other activities.
  • Demonstrated experience and a strong interest in working with Native American art in a museum setting.

Ideal Candidate

  • Committed to researching, caring for and interpreting Native American art for diverse audiences, and to thinking in new ways about representations of Indigenous experiences in art across the Americas by both Native and non-Native artists.
  • Committed to collaborating with Indigenous and First Nations communities.   Demonstrated experience contributing to/leading exhibitions, programs and projects developed in collaboration with artists, visitors, community leaders, elders, other scholars and experts.
  • A breadth of knowledge and experience, as well as a willingness to gain expertise in new areas. An interest in and commitment to exploring the changing nature of art museums and their relationship to the public.
  • Sensitivity to historical and contemporary issues around representation and the politics of collecting and displaying Native American art, including familiarity with NAGPRA.
  • Experience working in partnership and engaging with donors, collectors, scholars, external communities and other partners.
  • Strong planning and project management skills with the ability to manage various projects simultaneously and to collaborate with colleagues across the institution to achieve the best outcome.
  • Strong sense of accountability for achieving stated objectives.
  • Team-oriented and collaborative.
  • Superb presentation and interpretation skills with ability to attract and engage audiences of all demographics.
  • Superior ability to present and defend ideas and projects that earn the respect of colleagues and Museum’s leadership and builds credibility for the department and institution.

Personal Qualities and Attributes

  • Intellectually rigorous
  • Inspirational, passionate, curious
  • Generous of spirit, a team player
  • Superior judgment, tact and diplomacy, with good organizational skills

Salary Range


How to Apply

To apply, please submit your application through the Museum's online job board​

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to building a culturally diverse and inclusive work environment and strongly encourage and welcome an application pool that reflects our commitment.

Page Type
Staff Position
Full Time

35 hours per week, Monday–Friday

Art of the Americas