Curator (Oriental Museum)

2022, February 11
Curator (Oriental Museum) 11th February 2022

The Department and role purpose: 

In January 1833 Bishop William van Mildert donated 160 volumes to found the University Library, located on Palace Green and in the same year Durham’s first university museum opened to the public. Today the University Library and Collections offers spaces, collections, expertise and services supporting education, research, the wider student experience and cultural and educational outreach. Collections and services operate across a wide estate of libraries, archives, museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Palace Green. Our nationally and internationally recognised collections span early books, archives and manuscripts, museum objects and art, print and electronic materials and include a repository of digitised materials, research outputs and research data. Our users encompass anyone engaging with our collections, services and facilities in person or remotely, this includes university staff, researchers from around the globe, students in higher education from Durham and other universities, school pupils and teachers, Durham’s local residents and tourists.

We are an ambitious and developing team with a focus on providing the best experience for our students, researchers and the wider community. We are valued partners working with students, professional services and academics across the University, and professionals and organisations regionally, nationally and internationally.

The University Library and Collections is made up of six sections: Collections; Customer Services; Education, Learning and Engagement; Research and Systems; Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions; and Finance and Administration. Staff work flexibly between the sections, 7 enabled by cross-cutting groups, Collections, Education, Engagement, User Experience, Operations, Research, Staff Development and a Programme and Project Steering Group.

The Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions team, under the leadership of the Head of Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions, is responsible for world-class museum and art collections, supporting their care, curation, and discovery, as well as facilitating public and research access to those collections. Our spaces include the Oriental Museum, Palace Green Library (including the Museum of Archaeology) and Durham Castle Museum. We work with pre-school children, primary and secondary schools, undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and the wider community, both within our venues and through our loans and outreach programmes, as well as increasingly through digital engagement.

The post holder will be part of a professional team with responsibility for the curation of the Oriental Museum’s internationally important collections of North African and Asian art and archaeology, including two ACE Designated Collections.  The post holder will be support collections focused research, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and teaching support, stakeholder liaison, and the provision of access to collections both for researchers and members of the public.  The post holder will have particular focus upon the ACE Designated Chinese collections, providing expertise and advice as directed by line management.

Core responsibilities:

  • Recognised professional museum practitioner and specialist with responsibility for the management of team members.
  • Provide input to the design and development of service processes, techniques and deliverables for the Oriental Museum.
  • Manage operational service activities to ensure excellence in the stakeholder experience.
  • Contribute to the analysis of stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements, inputting to the design and planning of services.
  • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to engage and influence future services and the University reputation.
  • Provide feedback on team and individual performance and identify development needs, conducting regular staff ADR and performance reviews.
  • Handle the vast majority of welfare issues within a team, referring more complex welfare issues to appropriate support services/senior management.
  • Delivery of ongoing coaching, mentoring and training to team members.
  • Maintain an awareness of current policy for University business goals such as widening participation and access and provision of advice using specialist knowledge.
  • Contribute to business meetings, working groups and sub committees at departmental and operational service levels.
  • Responsible for managing small budgets for consumables and some capital items, keeping records and processing invoices.
  • Devolve responsibilities to team members to ensure continuity of service provision and encourage skills development.

Role responsibilities:

  • Provide management for the operation of a stakeholder focussed service delivery area.
  • Manage and monitor service performance and provide metrics and reports to Service Heads, making recommendations as appropriate.
  • Participate in and monitor communities of practice and partnership working internally and externally.
  • Network and engage with external and internal stakeholders to gather feedback and identify future service needs, to ensure excellence in service provision.
  • Prepare and manage the service area budget or budgets and monitor expenditure to ensure cost-effective service delivery.
  • Contribute to the production and analysis of statistical service metrics to identify successful delivery and areas for future improvement.
  • Implement continuous service improvements to enhance the delivery of stakeholder services.
  • Communicate with internal and external stakeholders using appropriate media and methods.
  • Contribute to the delivery of activities that generate external income.
  • Deliver support elements of the wider student experience.
  • Contribute to the scheduling and monitoring of maintenance and installation works, projects and work streams within the department.
  • Collaborate with internal and external academics, industry and technical specialists to support the delivery of teaching and research projects.
  • Contribute to the overseeing of a service which provides practical, teaching and research work activities, projects, and self-directed sessions.
  • Provide support to ensure the delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning activities, and income generation where appropriate.
  • Contribute to the planning, design and delivery of research outputs and prepare innovative teaching/research proposals.
  • Contribute to promotional events and conferences.
  • Provide specialist expertise and support with complexity of data and information sources, interpretation and analysis.
  • Deliver training, teaching and/or development delivery for stakeholders.
  • Work with departmental colleagues and internal/external stakeholders, providing expert advice to help shape and manage the programme of acquisitions and collections development.
  • Use specialist knowledge to deliver and disseminate advice and research within academic and professional communities.
  • Contribute to the development and delivery of exhibitions in the UK and overseas.
  • Work with Collections Management colleagues to ensure that storage, conservation, collections care and records management for the collections meet, and where possible exceed, industry standards.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Reward and Benefits

To support the delivery of the University’s People Strategy to attract, retain and reward the very best, we offer a fantastic range of rewards and benefits to our staff, including:

  • 30 days annual leave, plus 4 customary days and 8 bank holidays (pro-rata for part time) and the option to purchase additional leave;
  • Automatic enrolment into a pension scheme;
  • Corporate and local discounts;
  • Wellbeing resources and discounted health benefits;
  • Health discounts on sports and activities at Maiden Castle Health and Activity Centre;
  • Reward and Recognition Schemes;
  • Personal and career development;
  • And SO much more, with further information available here

Person specification – skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop excellent working relationships both internally and externally.
  • Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.
  • Demonstrable specialist knowledge of Chinese material culture.
  • Some knowledge of written and spoken Mandarin.
  • Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience).
  • Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition.
  • Professional museum practitioner with knowledge and expertise used to contribute to the delivery and development of services, events and activities within the organisation.
  • Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of the University.
  • Ability to contribute to planning at operational level.

Desirable Criteria:

  • Fluent in written and spoken Mandarin.
  • Experience of managing and developing a team or teams and/or line management qualification.
  • Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues, including more senior colleagues.
  • Experience of implementing policy and procedures and involvement with future changes for a service area.
  • Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines.

Click here to see more details and to apply.

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