Division: Research & Collections
Department: Asian Department (Middle Eastern Section)
Reporting to: Senior Curator, Middle East

 

Background
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. It houses the national collections of watercolours, furniture and woodwork, miniatures, sculpture, silver, jewellery and metalwork. It has a strong reputation in dress and fashion and increasing standing in the contemporary field. It also has outstanding collections from the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and East Asia, which are curated by the Asian Department.
The Middle Eastern collection of around 20,000 objects covers the period from the rise of Islam in the 7th century to the present. The formation of this collection, begun in the 1850s, reflects the admiration of the Museum’s founders for the principles they detected in Islamic art and design. The acquisitions made over the last 160 years have created one of the largest collections of its kind, and one of the most important in terms of quality and range.
The collections are strongest in their representation of Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, but also include objects from Spain under Muslim rule, North Africa, the Caucasus republics, Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Central Asia, most notably Uzbekistan. The holdings of ceramics, textiles, metalwork and woodwork are particularly remarkable for their size and range. Parts of this Islamic Middle East collection are on display in the Jameel Gallery on level 1, in the Ceramics Galleries on level 6 and in other galleries across the museum.
Purpose of Job
A permanent position as a Curator for the Iranian collection is available in the Asian Department. The Museum is looking for a scholar with relevant expertise and the willingness and ability to communicate that knowledge to a wide audience. We expect the successful candidate to have a degree or post-graduate qualification in an appropriate field and experience of working in a museum.
The Curator will form part of the team responsible for the acquisition, care, research, display and interpretation of the Middle Eastern collection, with particular reference to the material from Iran. The post-holder will contribute to activities associated with the Jameel Gallery and other displays. S/he is also expected to contribute to curatorial and administrative work across the department.
The Asian Department maintains strong national and international links, and the post-holder will participate in the development of curatorial, educational and research partnerships with national and international institutions. The post-holder will also be expected to make a positive contribution to the life of the wider Museum, including active participation in relevant gallery and learning projects, through the exercise of curatorial and communication skills, and through research, publication and contributions to online resources.


Main Tasks
1. To take curatorial responsibility for areas of the Middle Eastern collection, particularly the material from Iran, to develop specific areas of expertise that complement those of other Middle East curators in the Department, and to act as a specialist on behalf of the Museum.
2. To contribute to the care, documentation, interpretation and display of objects within the Middle Eastern collection, demonstrating commitment to making them available through publications, loans, exhibitions and electronic media. In all cases to be at the forefront of best museum practice.
3. To make a contribution to the Museum’s reputation for scholarship, nationally and internationally, through his/her own work.
4. To work to ensure that the V&A provides a world-class visitor and learning experience by helping to maintain and improve existing galleries and stores, and
by contributing to the development of the Museum’s future gallery, storage and public access projects and to the programme of exhibitions and display.
5. To provide an efficient service for enquiries and opinions to specialists and the general public, to provide access to objects from both galleries and reserve collections, to teach classes and run handling sessions, and to deliver gallery talks and lectures.
6. To make substantial additions to the Museum’s on-line cataloguing systems and to contribute to the development of the V&A’s website, helping to ensure the delivery of an outstanding digital experience.
7. To help expand the V&A’s international reach, reputation and impact by creating active links with other international institutions and to contribute to the Museum’s International Strategy, with particular reference to Iran.
8. To manage loans as allocated and act as a courier as required.
9. To contribute to the ongoing transfer of the Museum’s Middle Eastern collections to the Asian Department.
10. To assist in the provision of specialist information and advice to the Government and the major grant-giving bodies, including the Export Licensing Reviewing Committee, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the Art Fund.
11. To seek out and assist in opportunities to generate support and income for the Department and the wider Museum.
12. To undertake in a flexible manner such other duties as the Keeper and senior staff may require.
13. Be committed to health and safety and ensure familiarity with all the Museum’s health and safety policies and procedures.
14. Be security conscious, ensure familiarity and co-operation with all Museum security procedures and ensure you wear a security pass at all times when on museum premises.
15. Promote equality and diversity in all aspects of your work by developing and maintaining positive working relationships, ensuring that colleagues are treated fairly and with respect/dignity and actively contributing to developments that support the museum’s strategy for widening access, inclusion and diversity.
16. Carry out ad hoc duties as requested by appropriate managers within your department.


Person Specification
Essential Requirements:
1. A degree or post-graduate degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field and demonstrable expertise in the Islamic Middle East, especially Iran.
2. A working knowledge of spoken and written Persian, and a willingness to undertake language training according to need.
3. Experience of work within a museum, gallery or archive.
4. Engagement with the broader issues currently being debated in studies of the Middle East, and of Iranian issues in particular, and an ability to see the ways in which these might be introduced into displays intended for diverse audiences.
5. Experience in the handling and display of art objects or a keenness and capacity to learn these skills.
6. Strong observation skills and a capacity to organise and structure written and visual information.
7. The ability to express complicated ideas simply to a variety of people, both orally and on paper, and a strong commitment to communicate specialist knowledge to a wider audience.
8. To be a clear and imaginative thinker, with interest in developing ideas and creating opportunities.
9. Evidence of good organisational skills and attention to detail in all aspects of work, particularly record keeping, combined with drive, patience, good humour, self-
motivation and common sense.
10. The ability to work collaboratively as part of a team, persuading others, contributing ideas, developing other people’s ideas and sharing responsibility.
11. Excellent computer skills including experience of databases, and an ability to manage information in traditional and digital forms systematically and accurately.
Desirable requirements:
1. A specialist knowledge of textiles and carpets from the Islamic Middle East, particularly textiles and carpets from Iran, or a willingness to specialise in this field.
2. Working knowledge of one or more appropriate European languages or other Middle Eastern languages.
3. Experience of educational projects with communities of diverse cultural backgrounds.
4. Experience of working on exhibitions.
5. Experience of managing research projects and academic events


OTHER INFORMATION
Hours/Salary:
Net working hours (i.e. excluding meal breaks) are 36 per week.
The salary for this role will be £26,940. Salaries are reviewed on an annual basis.
Annual Leave
28 days plus 8 days public holidays.
Pension benefits
You will be auto enrolled into the Museum’s Group Personal Pension Scheme and have the opportunity on completion of Probation to an enhanced pension provision, including an employer contribution of 10%.
Other benefits
Non-contributory life assurance policy (to value of 4 x annual salary)
An interest free season ticket or bicycle loan is available after three months.
Free entrance to all the major museums and exhibitions in London as well as many others.
Subsidised staff restaurant
Discounts on purchases in V&A shops


Application Process
Please apply online via the V&A’s website at www.vam.ac.uk/jobs
If you are having technical difficulties applying online, please use the online chat functionality which can be found on the bottom right hand side of the form. Alternatively, you can contact Vacancy Filler directly on 01509 236434, and quote the role reference number and your application number (if known). Please note, Vacancy Filler are contactable, Monday – Friday between 9.00am – 5.00pm.
If you have any queries regarding the role and/or the V&A’s recruitment process, you can email us – contacthr@vam.ac.uk or telephone us on 020 7942 2937 (Working hours Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm).
Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, 20 June 2018, midnight.
Interview expenses will not be paid unless there is a prior agreement.

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