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Conner Prairie - Curator of African American 19th Century Experience - Contractor

  • 15 Oct 2019 10:40 AM
    Message # 7985273

    Job Details

    Level - Experienced

    Job Location - Fishers - Fishers, IN

    Position Type - Contractor

    Education Level - Bachelor's Degree

    Salary Range - Undisclosed

    Travel Percentage - Undisclosed

    Job Shift - Day

    Job Category - Consultant


    Conner Prairie is excited to share information regarding a grant funded contract curator position to lead the development of a new religious exhibition and storyline told through the lens of the African American 19th century experience. The curator will work with Conner Prairie to explore the many ways religion and faith intersects with the stories of African Americans in the 19th century. The curator will:

    1. Conduct a literature review of existing materials and identify new sources of information regarding culture and religion. The literature review will ensure the project reflects and incorporates a diversity of voices and continues beyond this grant, serving as a living library for staff, board, and volunteers' continued examination of challenges and opportunities in the field of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work.
    2. Assist with a convening of religious scholars. This two-day workshop will provide the opportunity for a gathering of minds with varied religious expertise and background and will set the direction of next steps. 
    3. Assist with the organization and facilitation of a series of community round tables. Ideas and emerging themes of round table sessions and expectations of the community will be captured by Conner Prairie’s evaluation team and a contracted professional from the field.
    4. Lead the development of a preliminary interpretive and experiential plan to be adopted within 1836 Prairietown; themes from this plan will then be evaluated for their resonance in the community.

    Candidate Profile:

    Conner Prairie seeks a proven, accomplished scholar with a track record of project management and knowledge of religion with a focus on African American history. Experience working with scholarly community and facilitating community dialogue and collaboration is required. Periodic travel will be required, including some weekends. 

    For More Information or to Apply:

    Please contact Richard Cooper, Vice President & Chief Programs Officer at cooper@connerprairie.org

    Projected Start Date:

    The projected start date for the position is October 2019. The preliminary interpretive and experiential plan completion date is June 2020. The position has the possibility of extension with the acceptance of a full implementation grant.

    Organizational Profile & Appropriateness

    Conner Prairie’s mission is to “inspire curiosity and foster learning by providing engaging and individualized experiences for everyone.” Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1977, Conner Prairie was founded in 1934 by business leader and philanthropist Eli Lilly. Buying and restoring Indiana settler and statesman William Conner’s 1823 homestead, Lilly created Conner Prairie as a place that would “connect people with history in ways that books cannot.”

    Conner Prairie has reached significant milestones in programming, audience building, community partnerships, and board leadership since opening its doors to the public in 1964 and especially since gaining its independence from Earlham College in 2005. All of these milestone achievements have earned the museum a national reputation as a high performing institution and cultural asset.

    Today, Conner Prairie is staffed by more than 400 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees; and, the 2019 budget totals $12,854,000. Conner Prairie is located on 1,046 acres of woodland, prairie, and 3.3 miles of the White River, of which 90 acres have been developed for use by guests. On our grounds, guests experience nine outdoor historically themed and nature experience areas and four indoor experiential learning spaces. Enhanced by local, regional and national partnerships, at Conner Prairie, persons of all ages have access to: 

    • First-person historical interpretation
    • Early childhood education
    • Environmental education programming
    • Agricultural education programming
    • STEM programming starting at Age 3
    • Adult continuing education programming
    • Renowned youth & adult volunteer programming
    • Museum theatre programming

    Conner Prairie is one of the top 5 most visited outdoor museums in the United States, with more than 400,000 guests visiting us in 2018. Our guests range in age, ethnicity, and gender, and concerted effort is made to ensure the museum is accessible to persons of all abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. We attract visitors from all fifty states, with the majority coming from Central Indiana (Marion County, Hamilton County, Johnson County, and Hendricks County).

    Organizational appropriateness:

    Conner Prairie will use Lilly Endowment’s Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative planning grant to explore the creation of a religious storyline told through an exhibition that brings to life a composite of a 19th century African American settlement found in the Midwest. It is our intent that through this project we contribute to the arena of public discourse, provide a safe environment for dialogue, and grow the diversity of voices told at Conner Prairie. There exists a momentum and need to pursue this endeavor, for we understand that:

    • In the 19th century, religion was at the core of nearly every action, and to ignore this would be insincere. Religion was then, and is now, the thread that ties together the storylines of the past and present.
    • Religion did then and continues to play an essential role in the establishment of community and development of both societal and individual values. By linking history to the present, we fulfill our mission to inspire curiosity and foster learning.
    • Persons learn by choice, stories, song, and human experience. Story and song are inherently linked to religion, and there is a limitless opportunity to illustrate this connectivity, particularly in the African American community.
    • Many denominations were founded in the 19th century as a result of differing interpretations of the bible and value systems. Articulating how historically man has used religion to unite and divide provides the opportunity to make connections to the present day. 
    • The African American experience of the 19th century is a complex narrative in which religion holds a prominent place. Conner Prairie has largely neglected the storyline of African Americans in programming. The African American community places significant importance on religion, and the creation of this storyline will have special meaning to our guests of African American heritage.
    • By increasing the diversity of our storylines, both from a religious and ethnic perspective, Conner Prairie can draw new audiences to the museum.
    • As a leader in the field and Smithsonian affiliate, Conner Prairie has a unique ability to convene religious scholars from antebellum America to bring this project to fruition.

    Implicit to Conner Prairie’s vision to “expand the boundaries of our historical and natural resources by exploring, celebrating, and improving the human experience” is the understanding that individuals visiting and working in our museum represent the diversity of our world. Our commitment to the celebration of diversity, including age, ethnicity, abilities, and religion is witnessed in our accomplishments, strategic planning, and initiatives. The below examples illustrate our readiness and commitment to present a religious storyline told through an exhibition that brings to life a composite of a 19th century African American settlement found in the Midwest.

    • In 2018, Conner Prairie was named one of 250 “Sites of Conscience” by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. As a Coalition member, Conner Prairie is committed to interpreting history through site, engaging the public in programs that stimulate dialogue on pressing social issues, sharing opportunities for public involvement and positive action on issues raised at the site, and promoting justice and universal cultures of human rights. 
    • Our Site Master Plan, comprised of 25 transformational and experiential projects, is informing how continued growth will fulfill our vision to expand the boundaries of our historical resources by exploring, celebrating and improving the human experience. Projects discussed include the creation of a composite of a black settlement, similar to that of Roberts Settlement, located in Jackson Township, Hamilton County.
    • Launched in 2003, Opening Doors, which uses open dialogue to start a broader discussion about history and the world around us, became a national model for interpretive training for living history museums. Today, Conner Prairie is in the process of developing “Opening Doors to Inclusion,” which will identify and address areas of weakness within the organization related to diversity, accessibility, equity, and inclusion (DEAI); and, from there, formulate a comprehensive plan to address these challenges.
    • In April 2018, Conner Prairie established the Cultural Partnership Team (CPT). The mission of CPT is to enhance a culture of robust communication, collaboration, cross-departmental dialogue, and synchronized execution of new ideas. CPT has prioritized its Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) initiative.
    • Conner Prairie is a community partner, economic driver, and creative force, providing an array of diverse learning opportunities. We are a leader in transforming museums and how people view and use them. We recognize the need to evolve to fit the growing and changing needs of the community. In partnership with organizations like Sites of Conscience and through our own DEAI promise to be “a place where the doors are always open to a diversity of voices and limitless experiences,” Conner Prairie is intent on contributing to the more considerable discussion of DEAI. This intention, coupled with our comprehensive, long-range Site Master Plan, supports the rationale to incorporate religion into the storylines told at Conner Prairie. We believe this initiative is an appropriate first step in a larger aspirational goal to create a growing number of diverse experiences such that a diverse, and a global audience, appreciates a breadth of complex stories rooted in history.

    Last modified: 16 Oct 2019 9:51 AM | Anonymous
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