Mellon Fellow for Native Art

Posted on 05/06/2021

Mellon Fellow for Native Art
Philbrook Museum of Art – Application Deadline: Open until filled

Philbrook Museum of Art is a vibrant cultural institution in Tulsa, Oklahoma that typically welcomes over 120,000 visitors each year. Oklahoma is home to 39 Native nations—the most of any in the United States—representing various cultural regions including the Eastern Woodlands and Plains, among others. Tulsa has one of the highest percentages of Native populations in the country and is at a confluence of three tribes: Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), and Osage.

A 1920s Italianate Villa nestled in 25 acres of designed gardens, Philbrook features a dynamic and ambitious program of rotating exhibitions and galleries with selections from an actively growing collection of approximately 16,000 objects, about 5,000 of which are from Native North American artists. With artworks from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe dating from 3,000 BCE to today, Philbrook is Oklahoma’s most comprehensive art museum and offers visitors a glimpse into a broad range of cultures, time periods, and perspectives. The diverse collection supports a vision of Philbrook as central to the lives of our community as a place for learning, inspiration, and fun. Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse perspectives, and social connection.

Philbrook holds the visitor at the core of its mission, which is to make a creative and connected community through art and gardens. Philbrook recognizes that integral to our own mission is to seek out, learn from, and support those already engaged in community building efforts. Our own efforts toward creating a safe place for belonging, learning, inspiration, and fun begins with transparency and accountability to our institutional values:

  • Creativity: We regard learning, creativity, and the investigation of ideas as a vital, life-long pursuit. We advocate for inquiry, debate, play, experimentation, and collaboration in all our activities, programs, and practices.
  • Wellbeing: We believe art and gardens are essential to the physical and emotional wellbeing of our community. We create and support opportunities for relaxation, inspiration, reflection, exercise, and fun.
  • Relevance: We embrace our role as civic influencers to spark dialogue and promote positive change; increase access to diverse ideas, cultures, and perspectives; champion social justice; and be relevant and welcoming to all.
  • Sustainability: We strive to employ sustainable practices to preserve our collection, campus, and environment for future generations. We exercise fiscal responsibility to ensure short- and long-term viability and maximize our impact.

Position Overview
Philbrook Museum of Art seeks applications for a two-year appointment (renewable up to one year) as Mellon Fellow for Native Art. The Fellow will join a robust curatorial team focused on Native and contemporary art, with one curator dedicated to Native art, and three devoted to collaborations with contemporary art and artists. Twenty-first-century art—especially including Native art—is a cornerstone of the Museum’s program, which includes acquisitions, commissions, and exhibitions as well as innovative forms of engagement with artists, the institution, and our community.

The Mellon Fellow for Native Art will play an important role in this vital program intended to expand the canon of contemporary art beyond the boundaries of traditional Western narratives. Working in collaboration with the curatorial team and under the supervision of the Curator of Native American Art, the Mellon Fellow will undertake research in preparation for a major exhibition drawn from the collection. Additionally, the Fellow will participate in planning ongoing collection reinstallations, develop and present one to two public programs each year, and partner with Native artists and communities across North America on collection and exhibition-related research.


  • Research & Exhibition Development: Working in conjunction with the Curator of Native American Art, conduct research on collection items under consideration for a major traveling exhibition drawn from the permanent collection. Work with Native Advisory Council members to select objects for the exhibition and for related installations within the Museum. Participate in collaboratively planning collection reinstallations and developing interpretive and didactic materials.
  • Outreach & Visibility: Nurture mutually beneficial relationships with artists, gallerists, donors, collectors, critics, and other colleagues locally and nationally. Stay current with the field of Indigenous art, including new and emerging artists as well as broader trends and developments in the field. Participate in planning and presenting programming related to Museum’s donor and collecting groups.
  • Collection Stewardship: Contribute to the ongoing creation of the comprehensive catalogue of Philbrook’s collections, including verifying, correcting, and augmenting existing collection records.
  • Public Programming: Develop one to two innovative programs each year geared toward a broad general audience and in alignment with the institutional mission and vision. Present information to docents, collectors, interest groups, or other organizations in the form of lectures, tours, and public programs within field of expertise.
  • Evaluation: Embrace the evolving relationship between museums and their audiences and use evaluative methods to better understand and serve those audiences. Participate in evaluation of programs on an ongoing basis and respond appropriately to feedback to ensure a successful process of continual improvement.
  • Collaboration & Administration: Collaborate across the institution to support efforts in fundraising, education, collection care, programming, public relations, and communications. Supervise interns and volunteers working with the Native art collection.
  • Attendance: Maintain prompt and reliable attendance in order to successfully perform the duties of the job, including weekend and evening hours for events and programs.

The ideal candidate is committed to audience-centered curatorial practice and appreciates working within an organizational structure that values collaboration and teamwork. Applicants affiliated with an Indigenous community are encouraged to apply / preferred.


  • Highly articulate, with excellent writing and public speaking skills. Able and willing to engage a broad range of constituents, including community members, academic audiences, general visitors, artists, collectors, dealers, and potential donors
  • Creative, open-minded, and committed to innovative museum practice
  • Flexible and goal-oriented, with the ability to handle constantly changing priorities
  • Welcomes ideas from unconventional sources
  • Demonstrates keen cultural sensitivity
  • Diplomatic, kind, and gracious, with a sense of humor and innate curiosity
  • Some familiarity with museum practices, including collections care, exhibition development processes, interpretation, and evaluation
  • Comfortable with personal computers and social media, including word processing, digital imaging, and database applications

Equivalent Education/Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in Native American / Indigenous studies, anthropology, art, art history, education, film, interdisciplinary studies, visual culture, or related field; Master’s preferred. Relevant experience may be substituted for a degree.
  • At least one year of experience in a related position in a museum, gallery, research setting or as a community organizer working in arts and culture.

Philbrook provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

Please submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected].