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Deputy Director for Collections & Research

  • Organisation:Royal Ontario Museum
  • Location:Toronto, Canada
  • Salary:$251,883 CAD - $296,333 CAD per annum
  • Contract type:Full-time | Permanent

About the Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s celebrated international museum and houses important collections in art, culture and nature (www.rom.on.ca). The ROM is the largest and most attended museum in Canada, attracting, pre-COVID-19, more than 1.3 million visitors per year. It has a membership of over 32,000 households and an annual budget of $80 million CAD, and is a world leader in communicating its research and collections to the public. A globally recognized field research institute, home to more than 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, the ROM features 40 galleries and exhibition spaces in its original heritage building and its 2007 Michael Lee-Chin Crystal designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind.

Founded more than one hundred years ago, the ROM is globally renowned for its multidisciplinary collections, groundbreaking research and iconic architecture. Spanning art, culture, and nature from around the world and across the ages, the Museum’s comprehensive collection, coupled with its exceptional exhibitions, installations, and programs that speak to diverse audiences, has made the ROM a leading cultural destination for local, national and international visitors.


“Our mission is to trans-form lives by helping people to understand the past, make sense of the present and come together to shape a shared future. To do this, we build and share our global collections, create knowledge, inspire learning, encourage gathering and spark exchange on topics that matter to people and communities.”

Evolving for the 21st Century

Looking to the future, the ROM’s vision is to become a distinctly 21st-century museum, one that will be globally known for expanding the boundaries of knowledge, innovation in presenting that knowledge, and public relevance within the intersecting worlds of art, culture, and nature.

To realize this vision, the ROM is embarking on a new strategic direction that builds on its strengths and capabilities while evolving in step with a rapidly changing world. As part of this transformation, the Museum is becoming an ever more outward-facing institution, focused on playing a central role in community and cultural life, while increasing impact – artistic, cultural, and scientific – nationally and internationally.

At the local level, the ROM contributes to the vibrant cityscape as a critical community anchor – a place where people gather, learn, socialize, and seek inspiration. The ROM is committed to building community, reducing barriers to access and making the Museum a more inclusive and welcoming space — a place where a diverse visitor base can see themselves reflected in the programs, exhibitions and galleries.

At the global level, the ROM’s collection is international in scope, culturally diverse and uniquely multidisciplinary. The Museum’s curators are regularly published in prominent academic journals and featured at symposia. And as the country’s preeminent field research institute, the ROM continues to advance knowledge and make groundbreaking discoveries that contribute to a better understanding of the world around us.

The ROM is a trusted institution that plays an important role inspiring lifelong learning for people of all ages. As one of the largest cross-curricular educational institutions in Canada, the ROM engages future generations in hands-on and virtual multisensory learning opportunities grounded in the Museum’s collections, its deep expertise and global connections. Increasingly, the ROM is infusing digital thinking into the museum environment to connect people powerfully to our collections, content and curators. Digital tools and technology are helping to bring collections to life, making the visitor experience more compelling and meaningful, and to create virtual experiences and distance learning.

Situated in a 21st-century context in the most diverse major city in the world, within a province and country known for pluralism, openness and global perspectives, the ROM is well positioned for the future, and for an even greater role on the world stage. By leveraging the ROM’s strengths and capabilities, and applying them in fresh and far-reaching ways, by investing to create greater engagement through inclusion, transdisciplinary thinking, digital practices and innovation, the ROM is charting a new and bold way forward as we pursue our goal to become one of the world’s foremost museums.

Director and CEO – Josh Basseches

Josh Basseches became the Director and CEO of the ROM in 2016, bringing with him more than two decades of experience transforming museums, enriching the visitor experience, and guiding international initiatives. His bold vision for the ROM includes taking it from one of Canada’s great museums to a globally renowned innovator and thought leader.

Prior to the ROM, Basseches was Deputy Director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where he played a central role in the institution’s decade-long reinvention into one of America’s leading museums, and in its capital campaign, helping to raise more than $600 million USD. Previously Basseches had served as Executive Director of the Harvard Museum of Natural History and repositioned it as a vibrant, public-serving institution. In addition, he has been active in the museum professional community, currently serving on the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors and previously as president of the New England Museum Association.

Basseches holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MA in Art History from Boston University, and a BA from Amherst College. He is currently completing a PhD in the history of art and architecture at Boston University. His research and writing focus on transnational artistic and cultural exchange.

The Position and Opportunity


With the ROM poised for continued growth and innovation, this is an exciting time to be joining the Executive Leadership Team. The organization is committed to a strategy of investing in exceptional talent at the senior level, with the goal of fully integrating strategic, collections, financial, operational and programmatic planning.

The Deputy Director for Collections & Research and Chief Innovation Officer (DDC&R/CIO) is one of the most essential leaders at the ROM. The DDC&R/CIO is a senior partner to the CEO and plays a critical museum-wide role in helping to develop the strategic direction of the institution, in furthering innovation and creativity, in promoting transdisciplinary thinking, and in positioning the ROM as a global thought leader.

The DDC&R/CIO directly oversees the staff and budgets of the curatorial, collections, library, and conservation divisions, encompassing the Art & Culture Department, the Natural History Department and Collections Management, and oversees the museum-wide research, scholarly publishing, and innovation endeavours. Additionally, the DDC&R/CIO partners closely with the Deputy Director for Engagement on gallery master planning and on the development of the special exhibition program and plays a key collaborative role on interpretive development and design.

Reporting to the Director & CEO, the DDC&R/CIO is a senior member of the executive leadership team and contributes to the overall direction-setting and strategic planning of the ROM.


• As Deputy Director for Collections & Research, the DDC&R/CIO is responsible for managing and overseeing the Curatorial Division (Art & Culture, Natural History) which includes curators, technicians, librarians, collections managers, registrars, and conservators (92 total staff and a budget of about $11 million CAD). The DDC&R provides leadership, vision, strategic direction, and financial oversight for the Curatorial Division.

• As CIO, the DDC&R/CIO is responsible for promoting innovation, thought leadership, creativity and transdisciplinary practice across the Museum, which includes developing – in collaboration with appropriate senior colleagues – best practices for: scouting relevant trends, challenges, opportunities, talent and partnerships; generating, testing, and advancing ideas; and facilitating and sustaining staff skills related to collaboration and teamwork.

• Works in close partnership with the Deputy Director for Engagement on the development of the special exhibition program and on gallery master planning and plays a key collaborative role on interpretive development and design.

• Works closely with the Deputy Director for Museum Operations & COO in supporting the day-to-day implementation of the 10-Year Strategic Plan.

• Leads the Curatorial team in a direction that helps the ROM be widely recognized as Canada’s leading museum and as one of the foremost cultural institutions in the world.

• Strengthens and secures the ROM’s curatorial capacity to fulfill the Museum’s Strategic Direction and its mission to build and share global collections, create knowledge, inspire learning, encourage gathering, and spark exchange on topics within the intersecting worlds of art, culture, and nature.

• Responsible for the administration, coordination, and successful implementation of all strategic and operational aspects of curatorial affairs, including direct supervisory oversight of both art & culture and natural history curators.

• Oversees Collections Management and the development, stewardship, conservation and protection of the ROM’s encyclopedic collection of objects and library holdings.

• Oversees the Vice President for Art & Culture, Vice President for Natural History, Head Librarian, Head Registrar, and Head Conservator to develop, oversee and approve departmental budgets, delegating responsibilities to these leaders, as appropriate. Develops strategy and implements plans for multi-year budgetary activities.

• Leads the effort to acquire new works of art, artifacts, specimens and collections of the highest calibre through gift and purchase, and supports curators to do the same.

• In partnership with the Director & CEO and the ROM Governors, plays a central role in fundraising efforts including cultivating, stewarding and soliciting donors for museum-wide and curatorial/collections initiatives.

• Promotes groundbreaking research and chairs the ROM’s publications committee; encourages the publishing of ROM research and scholarship nationally and internationally across many different types of publishing vehicles.

• Builds and maintains key curatorial relationships regionally, nationally and internationally that benefit the ROM’s reputation and promote international recognition of ROM curatorial staff and research. This includes participation in international conferences and committees.

• Builds a positive, productive working relationship with the Royal Ontario Museum Curatorial Association (ROMCA – the union) and helps oversee the ROM/ROMCA relationship on behalf of executive leadership with the goal of further strengthening curatorial capacity.

• Collaborates with other Museum departments on developing and implementing public programming for the benefit of museum audiences.

• Actively participates in engagement with ROM trustees including regular written and oral presentations, the development of Board agendas and materials, and attendance at trustee meetings.

Candidate Profile

Preferred Experience and Skills

• Candidates should be broadly skilled, sophisticated museum professionals with 7+ years’ experience as a senior leader (Director, Deputy Director, Chief Curator, Chief Scientist, or similar) and 15 years’ total professional experience at a museum with large collections and an international outlook; and experience that includes:

• Demonstrated track record of high-level accomplishment in curatorial activities including exhibitions and collection interpretation, research, scholarship and publishing, collections building and care, and fundraising.

• Ph.D. preferred in a relevant field or the equivalent, demonstrated through extensive professional accomplishment. M.A. is a minimum requirement.

• Demonstrated commitment to innovation and creativity.

• Commitment to thinking outside traditional disciplinary boundaries and to encouraging transdisciplinary activity across art, culture, and nature.

• A track record of commitment to the public mission of the museum and for breaking down barriers between curatorial activity and public engagement.

• A natural leader who is highly articulate and a strong communicator with proven managerial, problem-solving and planning capabilities.

• Ability to cultivate strong relationships with trustees, donors and colleagues.

• Advanced knowledge of current “best practices” in the museum field, as well as the intellectual curiosity, creativity and enthusiasm for learning about emerging museum, leadership, and innovation practices and how to bring them to the ROM in constructive ways.

• Demonstrated success in supervising curators to work together to enhance creativity and achieve shared institutional objectives.

• Ability to foster trust, collaboration, teamwork, and initiative-taking; capacity to manage up, down and sideways, as well as the flexibility to manage through change.

• Understanding of, and sensitivity to, diverse communities.

• Holds an earned place of respect among other top museum professionals in the curatorial field and beyond.

• Experience with museum expansions, architectural design, and gallery planning is an asset.

• Experience working in a unionized or professional association environment is an asset.

• Leadership Skills: In a museum where the Executive Leadership Team partners to develop integrated strategic, programmatic and operational plans, has the temperament and training to bring rigour and creativity to inform problem solving and priority-setting. Be sufficiently confident to articulate a point of view, engage in iterative discussions, and revise plans where the evidence is to the contrary. Serve as a role model, coach, and mentor with the ability to attract, develop, and retain excellent talent.

• Relationship Building/Influencing Skills: As a critical member of the Executive Leadership Team in a museum that values collaboration, the DDC&R/CIO must build rapport and establish credibility with a wide range of stakeholders across the institution as well as externally. Must be accessible and create opportunities for discussion, debate and exploration of important issues. Solicit input, listen well and synthesize information. Communicate complicated information clearly to a range of audiences. Possess the talents, experience and “soft skills” needed to achieve trusted adviser status across the ROM community.

How to Apply

To apply in confidence, email 1) a letter expressing interest in this particular position and giving brief examples of past related experience; 2) a curriculum vitae or résumé; 3) names of three references with contact information. However, no references will be contacted without written permission. Submit application by July 19, 2021 to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman or Connie Rosemont, Museum Search & Reference, SearchandRef@museum-search.com. For additional information visit: http://museum-search.com/open-searches/.

The ROM will begin reviewing applications in June 2021; the posting will continue until the position is filled. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply for this international search. However, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Short-listed candidates subsequently may be asked to provide publication or work samples.

Equal Opportunity

The ROM is committed to fair and accessible employment practice and considers equity, diversity, and inclusivity to be foundational to its institutional success. The ROM seeks to foster a workplace that reflects the communities it serves and welcomes applications from women, racialized persons/BIPOC, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, LGBTQ2S+, and people with disabilities. Upon request, suitable accommodations are available under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA, 2005) to applicants invited to an interview.


Hiring range: $251,883 CAD – $296,333 CAD per annum (commensurate with experience), plus up to 5% pay for performance.

Full benefit coverage includes medical and dental plan, life insurance, disability, and generous pension.

Nominations are welcome.

About Toronto

Toronto, the fourth-largest city in North America, is a cosmopolitan, diverse city of 2.8 million people on Lake Ontario. The Greater Toronto Area has a 2020 population of 6.2 million and is growing. It is the country’s financial and business capital, and in normal times, it welcomes 40 million tourists a year. It supports a lively arts and culture scene that includes museums, galleries, performing arts organizations, festivals (including the pre-eminent Toronto International Film Festival), a diverse restaurant scene, and many working artists, ecologists and scientists. It is home to 5 universities and 4 colleges. Toronto’s housing and job market, economic development and population growth have been expanding rapidly over the past decade, and it is recognized as one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, with 47 percent of the population self-reporting as “part of a visible minority.”

One of the most livable cities in the world, Toronto is ranked as the safest metropolitan area in North America. It has many excellent public schools and a comprehensive public transportation system that includes buses, metros, streetcars, and a public bike program. The city has trendy and up-and-coming neighbourhoods, as well as quiet neighbourhoods beyond the bustle of downtown. The city is bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, providing many kilometres of beautiful, accessible waterfront. There are many park and recreational opportunities within and near the city for canoeing, kayaking, hiking, outdoor beauty and winter sports. Toronto is surrounded by Ontario’s Greenbelt, a 2-million-acre area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds that provide multiple farmers’ markets and local food options within easy reach, and the city sits adjacent to southern Ontario’s wine-growing region. Centrally located, Toronto has easy access to other major cities such as Ottawa, Detroit, and Cleveland. Niagara Falls and Buffalo are 90 minutes away.

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