Pappalardo Curator and Department Head of Musical Instruments

Position Summary

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is deeply committed to exploring the changing nature of art museums today and their relationship to the public. Inclusion, community, and relevancy are key to those goals, all promises of the Museum’s Strategic Plan, MFA 2020. Because of music’s universal appeal, the position of Pappalardo Curator and Department Head of Musical Instruments provides an exciting opportunity to play an important role in the execution of the Museum’s strategic plan through the creation of exhibitions, gallery displays and programming that boldly combines objects with ideas that excite our current audiences, and bring in new ones. The Museum seeks a dynamic and highly-motivated individual who is energized by these challenges and opportunities for the position of Pappalardo Curator and Department Head of Musical Instruments.

The Museum is home to over 1,300 instruments, including examples from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Museum visitors can enjoy and learn about the instrument collection not only through exhibitions, but also through talks, live demonstrations, concerts, publications, social media videos and recorded audio samples. Musical instruments can be found in their dedicated gallery, but also integrated throughout the Museum, inviting audiences to consider them in many contexts. The curator is involved in the creation of this content, and more.

Reporting to the Director of the MFA, the Head will galvanize and inspire curatorial staff to develop an engaging portfolio of exhibitions, publications programs and initiatives, deepen relations with its donors, and continue to build and preserve its collection. The Head will lead in shaping and developing the vision for the Musical Instruments department with special attention to projects that support the central role of audience engagement. The Head works collaboratively with other curators and colleagues to achieve departmental initiatives and institutional strategic goals.

The new Head will be deeply committed to exploring the changing nature of art museums and their relationship to the public. The Head will embrace and champion the Museum’s core values, namely that the experience of our visitor is paramount to our mission, strategies and achievements. The Head will be able to articulate those values in spoken and written presentations for a range of audiences in person and via multi-media channels.

Candidate Profile

Minimum Qualifications and Experience

  • Advanced degree in Musical Instrument Studies, Ethnomusicology, Musicology, or extensive equivalent related knowledge in museum exhibition and program planning and production.
  • Significant experience in the area of Musical Instruments, including a portfolio of exhibitions, publications, and programs that have advanced scholarship and connected visitors in engaging ways.
  • Senior management level museum experience in exhibitions, installations, publications, collection building, and leading staff.
  • Should have established contacts such as with national and international artists, dealers, curators and other museum professionals with the desire and ability to cultivate new relationships intended to enhance our Musical Instruments displays and programming.
  • Curatorial experience gained in working with museums that have sought and achieved imaginative ways of engaging with their visitors and which have met targeted results.

Ideal Candidate Profile

  • An experienced leader of people, ideas and institutional mission, with the dynamic communication and presentation skills to engage staff, donors and the public.
  • Demonstrable ability to manage, mentor and retain talent, and disciplined in managing curatorial staff to reach for excellence in ideas, project execution and goal achievement.
  • An international perspective but invested in becoming personally and professionally committed to the city of Boston, its people and artistic community.
  • Committed to collaboration with others to achieve the best outcome, and is an excellent and timely decision maker to move plans and objectives forward.
  • Strong sense of accountability for achieving stated objectives and demonstrable experience doing so.
  • Superior ability to present and defend ideas and projects that earn the respect of other senior leaders and builds credibility for the work of the department and institution.
  • Evident experience/ability to partner with curatorial colleagues in developing the artistic vision of the Musical Instruments program, develop exhibition projects, position the institution externally and realize support and works of art from donors.
  • Evident experience working successfully with senior leaders of an organization to achieve, both their own and their peers’ objectives, including visitor experience, marketing, education and digital initiatives.
  • Committed to supporting and contributing to the success of an institution’s business and financial imperatives.
  • Committed to the training and professional development of staff to ensure up-to-date practices.

Personal Qualities and Attributes

  • Intellectual rigor
  • Inspirational, passionate, curious
  • Resilient with a healthy approach to work/life balance
  • Generosity of spirit, a team player
  • Superior judgment, tact and diplomacy

For immediate consideration to any of our open staff positions, please e-mail your résumé and cover letter to:

You also have the option of forwarding your application materials via postal mail to: Human Resources Department, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is an Equal Opportunity Employer and seeks diversity in its workforce. The Museum is committed to attracting, retaining, developing and promoting the most qualified employees without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, or past, present, or future service in the uniformed services of the United States, or any other characteristic prohibited by federal, state, or local law.

Page Type
Staff Position
Full Time
Musical Instruments