The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation : Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship in Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in the department of Photography will have the exceptional experience of helping to research, prepare, and publish a groundbreaking volume on the state of photography and of the Art Institute collection. This landmark text, planned for publication in the second half of 2021 or early 2022, will be the first-ever collection catalogue on the museum’s renowned photography holdings, which were begun in 1949. Handsomely illustrated and carefully researched, this ambitious volume will reflect the latest scholarship in photographic history and will serve student, specialist, and general audiences alike. It will bring together a range of voices, including the department’s curatorial and conservation staff and numerous outside writers. The book will also put in print for the first time an overview of photography at the Art Institute, an institution with an exhibition program in photography that dates to 1900 and a history of collecting and display that additionally involve the departments of Modern and Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design, and the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.

The curatorial fellow will become involved in all aspects of the publication, including assessing the state of contemporary scholarship; conducting archival research on particular photographs and broader aspects of the collection and program; assisting all Photography Department staff contributors with research; interacting throughout with outside authors; and acting as interface between Photography and Publishing as catalogue production advances.

Additionally, the fellow will be invited to present one rotation of the permanent collection in Gallery 10 as an exhibition based on catalogue research. This undertaking involves considerable writing for the public — wall texts and labels, commentary for the web — and the opportunity for public speaking.

Further opportunities for publishing research will be negotiated with candidates as these projects develop.


  1. Research and organize current scholarship in photographic history and related fields; suggest contributors to catalogue

  2. Research the history, material properties, and provenance of particular photographs in the collection, and organize research material on individual works to be archived in the museum’s object or artist files

  3. Coordinate contributions from guest authors (outside scholars), including initial contact, manuscript submission, revised essays, etc.

  4. Liaise with Publishing Department on all aspects of book production

  5. Under the supervision of curator, select, research, and install permanent collection rotation with full didactics, and help shape public programming opportunities for the rotation

While the Fellow’s home base will be the curatorial department of Photography, fellowship activities will be performed in collaboration with many other departments at the museum, including Conservation, Publishing, Imaging, Learning and Public Engagement, and Academic Engagement and Research, among others.


A Ph.D. degree in art history or a closely related field of visual culture studies, with a strong research focus on the history of photography. ABD candidates may apply if it can be confirmed that the degree will be completed by the start date of the fellowship.

Candidates should submit a CV, a cover letter detailing the candidate’s interest in applying for the fellowship and what skill set(s) the candidate would bring to the position, and a document listing the names of at least three professional references. Upon invitation to interview, further supporting materials (such as writing samples) may be requested. Attachments should be collated into a single PDF document and uploaded as one file.

The fellowship will begin in September 2019. This is a two-year appointment.

To ensure the fullest possible consideration, please submit your application by April 1. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the post is filled.

The Art Institute of Chicago is an equal opportunity, equal access employer fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Please apply directly online at Position number 10600

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