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Seeking Assistant Curator

Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa
Deadline: 01 February 2022

Seeking Assistant Curator

Job Title: Assistant Curator
Department: Curatorial
Duration: 12 months
Reporting to: Chief Curator

The Assistant Curator will work with Norval Foundation’s curatorial team to plan and deliver the institution’s artistic programme and the management of the Homestead Collection. Though a part of the Curatorial staff and working closely with the Chief Curator, Senior Advising Curator, Adjunct Curator, Guest Curator(s) and Assistant Collections Manager, the Assistant Curator will interface with all aspects of the Foundation, including the Chief Executive’s Office and the relevant individuals in Education, Communications, Shop, Finance and Operations.

The duties associated with this position will include the administration of the Curatorial Department, developing and coordinating the exhibition programme, managing communication with curatorial stakeholders, supporting the creation of the Foundation’s publications and printed materials, and managing the public programming, including Norval Foundation’s lectures and seminars. Public facing duties include giving exhibition tours and assisting the public in exhibition spaces.

The Assistant Curator will have a passion for the visual arts and creative practices and discourses more broadly; knowledge of the themes defining the discipline locally, within the continent and globally; an interest in the history of art and its interpretation, production, and care; a desire to critically engage with the discipline; and knowledge of the major developments in museology.

Key responsibilities:

• Coordinate the overall planning, research and preparation of exhibitions, including the creation and maintenance of planning documents, exhibition checklists, artwork image files, artwork details, research relevant artists and themes and generate exhibition presentations and outlines.
• Coordinate exhibition design and layout with curatorial staff and oversee the installation of exhibitions.
• Coordinate the commissioning of major, new installations with curatorial staff, and independently develop small scale projects, including exhibitions or other forms of programming, drawing upon the Homestead Collection.
• Assist with and lead on the writing, editing, and designing of didactic texts, including wall texts, object labels, essays for publications, newsletters, and the Foundation’s website.
• Coordinate the designing and production of exhibition graphics with Graphic Designer.
• Manage relationships with exhibition stakeholders, including artists, collectors, museums, foundations, gallerists, and others, and travel arrangements for visiting artists, curators, and academics.
• Manage loan correspondence and artwork insurance with artists, foundations, collectors, galleries, and other museums.
• Monitor exhibition budgets, including seeking estimates, processing invoices and payments, updating budget spreadsheets, and regularly reconciling expenditures with Finance staff.
• Undertake research into artworks included in the Homestead Collection, and assist with new acquisitions and deaccessioning of artworks no longer needed.
• Develop and coordinate Norval Foundation publications in collaboration with curatorial staff, including proposing concept and content, managing development, editing and copyediting of texts, acquiring copyright permission of artwork images, liaising with publishers or printers, liaising with graphic designer, managing printing and distribution.
• Coordinate the preparation and submission of grant applications for specific exhibitions.
• Manage external contractors supplying the Norval Foundation with services, including working with exhibition architects, fabricators and technicians, and artwork installers.
• With Assistant Collections Manager, inspect artworks on loan, on display, and in storage, prepare accompanying condition reports, and upload to collection database.
• Lead guided tours of exhibitions and sculpture garden and manage exhibition enquiries.
• Collate and share exhibition materials with the Communications and Marketing Coordinator so that content is online, shared through social media, and communicated through traditional media prior to artworks being exhibited and/or exhibition openings.
• Coordinate public programming, including liaising and managing artists, writers, intllectuals, musicians, dancers, directors, poets, and others, as well as collaborating with other cultural organisations to realise curatorial events at the Norval Foundation.
• Mentor curatorial interns and manage student engagement from educational institutions such as University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape.
• Complete basic graphic design tasks, including the layout and design of interpretative materials, such as exhibition texts, artwork labels, exhibition timelines, photographic materials, and other graphic items.
• Assist with curatorial related events in partnership with curatorial and events staff, including the management of suppliers, caterers, sending out invitations, guest lists and invoicing for goods and services.
• Work together with other members of Norval Foundation’s team to create a positive, enriching environment where excellence and growth are valued.
• Any other duties as required by the Chief Curator, Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer.

Person specification

The individual taking up the role of Assistant Curator will need exceptional research, writing, and cultural interpretation skills combined with ability to manage artistic programming. They will be expected to manage Norval Foundation’s artistic programme to the highest standards and it is vital that they have exceptional organizational skills with a methodical approach and a high level of accuracy. Simultaneously, they must be able to contribute creatively and intellectually to the artistic programme, broadening its scope and ambition. They will need to work well with a variety of people and appreciate the nuances of communication both within and exterior to the cultural sector. They must have a demonstrable experience and training within the visual arts and design, or propose how they would transfer knowledge and experience curating a different art form to the visual arts.


• BA or BFA and MA or MFA in art history, curating, visual studies, or another arts or communications related subject.
• 2-3 years of professional experience in the arts sector, with a preference someone working in a curatorial or collections department of a visual art or design institution.
• Exceptional organizational skills with a methodical approach and a high level of accuracy.
• Strong research, writing, and cultural interpretation skills and the ability to effectively build an argument.
• Ability to work well with others and communicate effectively with all stakeholders
• Appreciation for the nuances of communication and professionalism in the cultural sector.
• Capable of managing their own time and working within agreed time frames.
• Passionate about the visual arts with an art historical knowledge.
• Ability to negotiate high pressure circumstances and prioritize workload.
• Effective problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn.
• Good computer skills, including the use of the MS Office package, and preference for experience working with Adobe Creative Suite.

About Norval Foundation

Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression. We are dedicated to the research and exhibition of 20th and 21st century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature.

Our Sculpture Garden, outdoor amphitheatre, purpose-built exhibition spaces and research library are situated in a unique setting that offers visitors a multisensory experience. This is complemented by the Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, a bespoke shop and a children’s playground.

We aim to create high-quality exhibitions and public programming to broaden our understanding of the visual arts. Norval Foundation is honoured to be the custodian of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and the Alexis Preller Archive. We believe that art has the power to enrich our lives and that artists contribute to our communities in a profound way.

The Norval family are the founders and initial funders of the Norval Foundation. Their aim is to make art widely accessible to local and international visitors by creating a self-sustaining centre for art. The proceeds from capital donations will be used to secure the foundation for future generations.


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