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Assistant Curator of Musical Collections and Cultures

  • Organisation:Horniman Museum and Gardens
  • Location:Forest Hill, London, England
  • Salary:£31,980
  • Contract type:Fixed Term Contract / Part Time

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in south east London has been open since Victorian times, when the tea trader and philanthropist, Frederick John Horniman first opened his house and extraordinary collection of objects to the local community. Since then, our collection has grown significantly and includes internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history gallery – all surrounded by 16 acres of beautiful Gardens offering breathtaking views across London.

The Horniman’s musical instrument collection includes over 9,500 objects drawn from musical cultures and traditions, ancient to modern, around the globe.  It acquires, documents and interprets musical instruments, working with appropriate communities to explore meanings, inspire creativity and to disseminate knowledge. Its staff also provide access to the collections through research, lectures, and publications.

You will be a motivated, flexible individual with a balance of skills in programme development, video recording and editing, general administration, and community project work. As well as being systematic and organized, you’ll be able to generate a project idea relating to an aspect of African music and instruments, and implement a strategy for its delivery within the given timescale. You will be able to demonstrate good communication skills and show evidence of working effectively, not only on your own, but also in team and community contexts.

The closing date for completed applications is 10am on 8th August 2022.  Interviews will be held on Wednesday 17th August

The Horniman is an equal opportunities employer and we value and celebrate diversity. We want to better represent the communities in which we work but recognise that there is still much work to do in this area. We welcome and encourage all applicants and particularly encourage you to apply if you are from a community that is often disadvantaged by society or of ethnically diverse background.

How to Apply

Click on “find out more” at the bottom of this page. When you apply you will be asked to upload a covering statement in Microsoft Word format (the document must be in .doc  format and the maximum file size is 2 MB). Please also ensure that you have uploaded your CV as a separate document which you can do when you create an account or login.

Please provide an overview of no more than 2 pages describing your experience relevant to the role as outlined in the Job Description and Person Specification.  


Job title                               Assistant Curator of Musical Collections and Cultures
Section                                Content Team
Reports to                            Acting Principal Curator of Musical Collections and Cultures
Responsible for                    No responsibility for staff
Hours of work                       35 hours per week, Monday to Friday

Main purpose of the job                  

To assist in the work of the Musical Instruments section as required, to develop departmental knowledge and context for the African collections and their histories, and to develop, consult and work in partnership with community members.

Section description 

The Musical Instrument section acquires instruments and supporting documentation, including films and sound recordings, for the permanent collections of the Horniman Museum. The team researches and interprets musical instruments through exhibitions, talks and publications, including descriptions of the collection online. Performance-demonstrations on the accessioned historic keyboard instruments in playing order and other instruments similar to those on display in the Music Gallery are organised by the team. Each month the team responds to a large number of enquiries about musical instruments from the public. As a collection of national importance, the Horniman Museum’s musical instrument collection has Designated status.

Main responsibilities

African Musical Instruments Project (50%)

  • Develop knowledge and improve documentation of the African musical instrument collections through research and community engagement, in relation to the candidate’s interests and experience.
  • To conduct research on the history and provenance of musical instruments collections.
  • To collaborate with and produce content for the African and Caribbean Collections Research Hub project.
  • Plan one workshop study day with the relevant communitie(s) addressing issues arising from the collection. These could include broader issues such as colonial impacts, gender identity, types of social-musical influence, marginalisation, etc.

Musical Instruments Department and Hear It Live! (50%)

  • Work with Acting Principal Curator to develop monthly programme for Hear it Live! performances, widening the global scope of the programme.
  • Take charge of video recording all Hear it Live! performances, downloading, transcribing any text and preparing for web team.
  • Assist Acting Principal Curator in general work of the department and answering public enquiries.

General responsibilities

  • Act in a professional manner and uphold the Horniman’s Code of Conduct
  • Follow and promote safe systems of work and observe health and safety regulations
  • Any other duties that may be required to ensure the effective running of the section

Job activities may vary and evolve over time to meet business needs.


Essential (E). Desirable (D)

Minimum Shortlisting Criteria

  • Demonstrable interest in music and musical instruments, with knowledge of music making from the African continent particularly welcome.(E)
  • Experience in developing collaborative partnerships and projects.(E)
  • Experience in video filming, editing and creating materials for online presentation.(E)

Additional Shortlisting Criteria

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills with an ability to communicate effectively with a broad range of community groups and colleagues.(E)
  • Ability to work with close attention to detail and to maintain confidentiality.(E)
  • An appreciation for the diverse nature of community groups and the need to be sensitive to different needs, interests and beliefs.(E)
  • Able to work successfully as part of a team and on own initiative.(E)

Further Selection Criteria – to be tested at interview


  • An undergraduate degree, or equivalent research experience, with a clear link to the role.(E)

Knowledge and experience

  • Experience in conducting oral history interviews.(D)
  • Experience using Content Management Systems or museum databases.(D)

Skills and abilities

  • Excellent administrative, organisational, time-management and record-keeping skills.(E)
  • Able to work successfully as part of a team and on own initiative.(E)
  • Excellent IT skills using MS Office suite for word processing, email and designing basic spreadsheets (including some awareness of collections management databases).(D)

Personal attributes

An empathy with the Horniman mission and an interest in its exhibitions, activities and events.

  • Commitment to equality and diversity
  • Willingness to work flexibly to achieve corporate objectives
  • Commitment to own learning and professional development


A Basic DBS check is required for this post.

Application Closing Date: 19 August 2022

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