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Curator of Astronomical Photographs

Harvard University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Massachusetts, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Aug 11, 2022

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Position Type
Faculty Positions, Arts, Art History, Humanities, History, Professional Fields, Library & Information Sciences, Administrative, Academic Affairs, Arts Administration, Librarians & Library Administration
Employment Type
Full Time
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Job Summary

The Harvard College Observatory (HCO) invites applications for the position of Curator of Astronomical Photographs. Reporting to the Director of the John G. Wolbach Library, and working in coordination with the Executive Director of the Harvard College Observatory, the Curator provides vision, leadership, advocacy, interpretation, and passion for the Observatory’s Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection (Glass Plates). The Curator also serves as catalyst and coordinator of activities dedicated to connecting faculty, students, and an international community of scientists and researchers, to the Glass Plates to advance their scholarship and the mission of the HCO. The Curator will support conservation activities and advise on both short term and long term plans pertaining to stewardship of the Glass Plates. The Curator will be responsible for overseeing the work of Curatorial Assistants undertaking both physical and digital projects and will execute administrative tasks associated with daily operations of the Observatory Plate Stacks.

The Curator will have enthusiasm and demonstrated ability in sharing and interpreting the Glass Plates for teaching purposes, in digital contexts, in publications, and through exhibitions and programming. The Curator will be adept in communicating the value and contemporary relevance of astronomical photography to experts and general audiences.

The successful candidate will understand and appreciate the history of astronomy, particularly as it relates to optical observation methods and the roles that gender and care work have played in advancing the field; the ability to master over time all aspects of Glass Plate stewardship; enthusiasm for working with faculty and students; a proclivity for adopting new technologies and methods that will improve access to and use of the Glass Plates; and a collaborative and collegial outlook.

Auto req ID


Job Code

388057 Museum Professional


USA - MA - Cambridge

Business Title

Curator of Astronomical Photographs

Salary Grade


Time Status



00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Basic Qualifications
  • Advanced degree(s) in Library Science, History, and/or another subject area relevant to the collections of the HCO

  • Minimum 3 years work experience in a special collections environment, preferably in an academic research setting

  • Record of scholarly contribution and professional activities

  • Experience supporting research, teaching, and learning with archival objects and primary sources.

  • Working knowledge of astronomy and its associated material culture

Additional Qualifications and Skills
  • Advanced knowledge of the history and sociology of astronomy

  • Knowledge of current practices and emerging trends in the care and stewardship of glass plate photographs

  • 1 year of supervisory experience

  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism, and to serving the needs of a diverse population

  • Knowledge of intellectual property and scholarly communication issues and trends related to libraries, archives, and special collections

  • General knowledge of cataloging, archival processing, digitization, and conservation methodologies and standards used in special collections contexts

  • The ability to master over time the broad range of materials and time periods represented in the Glass Plate Collection

  • Demonstrated abilities to manage programs and complete projects that require collaboration with a wide variety of colleagues

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

  • Excellent organizational, time, and project management skills

  • Ability to work creatively, collaboratively, and effectively both as a team member and independently and to promote teamwork among colleagues


Harvard College Observatory

Pre-Employment Screening

Criminal, Education, Identity


35 hours per week

Job Function


Position Description

Administrative Responsibilities
  • Contributes to the establishment and implementation of strategic and annual goals for the Wolbach Library and HCO as they pertain to the Glass Plate Collection

  • In collaboration with the Head Librarian, manages a budget for collection care, programs, and professional development; executes purchases associated with approved budgets

  • Coordinates with Wolbach Library staff and staff at the Weissman Preservation Center as appropriate to review and respond to image and exhibition-related requests

  • Collaborates with Wolbach Library and others to publicize, select, manage, and host research fellowships

  • Oversees the execution of digital and physical projects undertaken by Curatorial Assistants; maintains project schedules

Research Support
  • Provides expert reference and research consultation for users of the Glass Plate Collection and the holdings of the Wolbach Library as appropriate

  • Collaborates with Wolbach Library staff to promote the Glass Plate Collection by planning, managing, and creating content for exhibitions, tours, publications, websites, and other mediums that present and interpret the holdings of the Glass Plate Collection for a wide range of audiences

  • Partners with staff and scientists to design and host activities that allow visitors and students to learn directly from primary source holdings and archival objects associated with the Glass Plate Collection

  • Collaborates with Wolbach Library staff, as well as scientists, staff, and students at Harvard and elsewhere, to identify, plan, and execute projects that supply access to the Glass Plate Collection in digital form so it can be discovered and used in emerging research

Collections Management
  • Assists with the cataloging and archival processing of donated items and materials in backlogs by assessing collections, establishing priorities, and providing input on catalog records and finding aids

  • Identifies items in need of conservation treatment and works with Weissman Preservation staff to develop, review, and approve treatment plans

  • Directly addresses acute conservation and stabilization needs when appropriate

Other Professional Responsibilities
  • Collaborates with staff at Harvard repositories whose work aligns with the goals of the Glass Plate Collection including the Weissman Preservation Center, Cabot Science Library, Harvard Art Museums, Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, University Archives and others

  • Cultivates and maintains a strong presence in research communities related to glass conservation, the history and sociology of science, and time domain astronomy

  • Participates in working groups and committees within Wolbach Library, the Harvard Library, and professional organizations

  • Publishes peer-reviewed papers and presents research at meetings and conferences

  • Develops a network of professional colleagues, faculty, researchers, and others to advance the goals of the Glass Plate Collection and the HCO


Faculty of Arts and Sciences

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Working Conditions

The University requires all Harvard community members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and remain up to date with COVID-19 vaccine boosters, as detailed in Harvard’s Vaccine & Booster Requirements . Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement, exemptions, and verification of vaccination status may be found at the University’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Information” webpage: .

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Harvard University views equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. We strive to create a community that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent to unify excellence and diversity while fully embracing individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs, and values.

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