Senior Curator


The National Portrait Gallery reflects the face of Australia and increases understanding and appreciation of Australian people and their stories through the art of portraiture. Guided by our values of creativity, innovation, inclusivity and integrity, our purpose is to develop a national portrait collection and provide the broadest possible access to all Australians. We do this through presenting engaging exhibitions and live and educational programs onsite in our award-winning building in Canberra, offsite across Australia, and on demand.

The Gallery is a dynamic and inclusive workplace and recognises the great contribution of our team. We’re committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our team and our visitors, and to sustaining a safe workplace and inclusive culture. We support flexible working practices, including working from home, and respect family and caring responsibilities.

The Gallery is committed to equal opportunity and diversity. We welcome applications from First Nations people, LGBTQIA+ people, people with a disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


The position

The curatorial team is central to the delivery of the NPG’s artistic program and the development of its permanent collection.

Reporting to the Director, Curatorial and Collection, the Senior Curator will play a critical role in the strategic direction of the organisation. They will curate exhibitions across the Gallery’s programming areas, including onsite, touring and online; implement and extend the Gallery’s collection development goals through acquisitions and commissions; and engage and grow audiences through diverse interpretation strategies.

As a senior member of the Curatorial & Collection team, the Senior Curator will work collaboratively across the Gallery and with other key stakeholders, locally, across Australia and internationally. This is a leadership role and involves line management of colleagues within the curatorial team.

The Senior Curator must possess a deep knowledge of Australian art history and visual culture, and expert level experience in both curating exhibitions and collection building. The role requires the candidate to possess excellent written and spoken communication skills; keen spatial awareness and an aptitude for devising exhibition layouts; and highly developed research skills. The Senior Curator should be directly engaged with current discourse and thinking relating to both curatorial work and artistic practice, foregrounding ideas of truth telling, care and polyvocal storytelling. They should be alert to the potential of portraiture to challenge the way we think and bring an inquisitive, analytical, and thoughtful attitude to the role.


Specific Tasks

As a senior member of the Collection and Exhibitions team:

1.       Curate innovative exhibitions and collection displays of the highest quality and contribute to the development and implementation of the Gallery’s onsite, touring and online exhibition program.

2.       Actively lead and contribute to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection development and commission program by researching and identifying potential works of art for the collection and establishing networks with artists, galleries and other stakeholders; and through the preparation of acquisition proposals for submission to the Board.

3.       Lead the development and management of accurate and engaging interpretative content related to the exhibition program and collection, including but not limited to labels, online material, exhibition texts, catalogues, in gallery audio offerings, and other content.

4.       Credibly represent and contribute to the enhancement of the NPG’s profile, its exhibition program and collection through research and publication; and through presentations at conferences, symposia and other public speaking events as well as engage with the media as required.

5.       Oversee and lead the layout and physical installation of exhibition projects, working closely with the exhibition designer to devise ambitious and innovative displays.

6.       Lead the curatorial team and line manage junior curatorial colleagues.

7.       Oversee the accurate and detailed documentation of the collection by input to the Gallery’s collection database.

8.       Work independently and as an active member of multi-disciplinary teams.

9.       Actively participate in the Gallery’s philanthropic activities by participating in events and related engagements.

10.   Develop and maintain professional networks that support the Gallery and its programs.


Selection Criteria

1.       Demonstrated understanding of Australian art history and visual culture and an engagement with portraiture.

2.       Demonstrated curatorial experience within a gallery or museum working with collections and researching and presenting exhibitions of the highest standard.

3.       Demonstrated time management skills and the ability to work independently across multiple projects with competing priorities within deadlines and available resources.

4.       Proven capacity to provide sound and effective leadership to Curatorial staff and within multi-disciplinary teams; Proven ability to build effective relationships and work productively within multi-disciplinary teams, and with stakeholders including artists, external colleagues, dealers and donors.

5.       Demonstrated capacity to show initiative and display resilience and adhere to the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct.

6.       Proven ability to communicate effectively in written and spoken forms and an established record of published writing.

7.       The Senior Curator must possess relevant tertiary qualifications in Australian art history.

Significant experience in the cultural sector, in an art gallery or museum environment required.


Applicant information

In no more than two A4 pages, please tell us how your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications make you the best person for this job.

Email your application, a current CV and the application coversheet to [email protected] by the deadline listed below.


If you need more information, please get in touch with Isobel Parker-Philip on 02 6102 7048 or by email [email protected]


Applications close midnight Sunday 14 July 2024.

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