The Virginia and William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art

Title: The Virginia and William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art
Reports to: Chief Curator
Status: Full time


The Birmingham Museum of Art seeks a dynamic and experienced Curator of Asian art. S/he will oversee a permanent collection of approximately 4,000 works of art dating from the 5th century BCE to the present.

The Curator of Asian Art is responsible for paintings, works on paper, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, and other Asian decorative arts objects. Within the cultural pluralism of the Asian collection, ceramics constitute an area of specialization. Highlights include one of the finest collections of Vietnamese ceramics in the United States, an outstanding collection of Chinese blue and white porcelain from the 13th through the 19th centuries, Korean works from the Joseon period (1392-1910), superb pieces from the Ban Chiang culture of northern Thailand, and a growing collection of Japanese stonewares.

The collection also includes hundreds of Chinese scroll paintings and Japanese woodblock prints, lacquered tomb wares and vessels, and Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu and Jain sculpture. Because of its collection, the Museum is the primary center for Asian studies in the southeastern United States.


  • Researching works of art in the permanent collection and disseminating findings through publications, lectures, gallery talks, labels, web-based media, and other forms of communication.
  • Working in partnership with other Museum departments to conceive and implement the installation and interpretation of Asian art in the permanent collection.
  • Developing and implementing in-house and traveling exhibitions from the permanent collection; and bringing in significant exhibitions of Asian art from elsewhere. Works with the Development department to secure funding; with the Design department to determine gallery configuration and installation; and with the Education department to craft public programs and interpretive materials.
  • Developing and implementing long-term goals and objectives for the Asian art collection through acquisitions that include gifts, bequests, and purchases.
  • Working with fellow staff to ensure the highest quality of care and maintenance of the permanent collection.
  • Participating actively in the intellectual life of the Museum by engaging in collection- and exhibition-related programming for public audiences, carrying out original research and publishing on the collection; expanding physical and electronic access to collection; supporting all fundraising activities to build the collection and develop the exhibition program; supporting all public relations efforts; working with partner organizations, and the community in furtherance of the BMA’s strategic goals.
  • Working closely with collectors and prospective donors both locally and farther afield.
  • The Curator of Asian Art is responsible for cultivating and providing direction for a collection support group, the Asian Art Society, founded in 1975. This group is devoted to the continued growth and development of the Museum’s permanent collection, and to educating its members about Asian art in general, and the Museum’s collection specifically. S/he is also responsible for working with the Museum’s Indian Cultural Society (ICS). Established in 2010 to promote all forms of Indian art and culture, the ICS has provided world-class public programs, including music and dance performances, lectures, and the annual Holi festival.
  • Participating in professional organizations and other opportunities that arise for professional development and to raise the profile of the Birmingham Museum of Art.


  • M.A. required; Ph.D. preferred in art history with a general knowledge of Asian art and culture and an emphasis on one or more of the following fields within Asian art: China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia.
  • Minimum of five years museum experience and extensive knowledge of museum practices required.
  • Strong record of research, scholarship, and public speaking, with proven experience organizing loan exhibitions and producing publications of high quality.
  • Demonstrated skill at strategically building a collection through gifts and purchases.
  • Must be a creative team player with strong collaborative, communication, and organizational skills.
  • Ability to build positive and effective relationships with Museum trustees, members, donors, and the broader community.
  • Must be articulate, with excellent presentation and writing skills, effective communication, organizational and time management skills. Must be resourceful, with creative problem solving skills; an objective decision maker; and have the ability to work under pressure.


Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience and includes an excellent benefits package.


Candidates should submit online a letter of interest; curriculum vitae; names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references; and a writing sample to:

Anne Forschler-Tarrasch, Ph.D., Chief Curator
Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35203

Review of applications will be ongoing until the position is filled.

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Equal Opportunity Employer

It is the policy of the Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) to provide equal employment opportunity to all applicants for employment with the BMA and to BMA staff without regard to sex, race, color, religious belief, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotions, termination, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Commitment to Diversity

The Birmingham Museum of Art is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination. The BMA is a diverse community in terms of race and ethnicity, culture, religion, personal values and traditions. BMA values this diversity recognizing that our differences contribute to our strength as an agency serving a diverse population. It is to this end that the BMA is committed to non-discrimination and advocates for an environment of tolerance with regard to cultural and personal differences. It is our belief that every employee has the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and self-worth and that it is in our best interest as an agency serving the public good to act in a manner free of bias, exclusion, and discrimination whether on the basis of faith, race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political affiliation, or any other personal differences.