Zoology Museum Curator

The University of Montana Zoology Museum (UMZM) contains about 22,000 vertebrate specimens, most of them housed in a newly-constructed (2018) and equipped conservation collection.  The collection is fully inventoried and is accessible nationally via Arctos.  The Curator will curate and professionally manage all biological collections in the UMZM, including research and teaching collections of all classes of vertebrates. The Curator will consult with the Associate Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and the Museum’s faculty advisor to establish short- and long-term goals for the maintenance and improvement of Museum operations.  The Curator will have substantial latitude in making short-term decisions about the best methods to accomplish the agreed goals.  To help achieve these goals, the Curator supervises a small group of volunteers, interns, docents, and student workers, who assist in a diverse array of tasks in support of Museum operations. The Curator cooperates with the Montana Natural History Center and other outreach and educational groups to make the museum available for guided tours.  The Curator serves as liaison to the Friends of the Museum via meetings and social media outlets.

The Curator is responsible for: preserving existing museum specimens; preventing damage to vertebrate specimens during storage; acquiring new collections for the museum and evaluating new potential donations for relevancy to the collection; maintaining current knowledge of professional museum practices and theories regarding proper use and access to museum collections, including modern collection database software; supervising and enforcing all museum policies; ensuring compliance of museum with all legal and ethical mandates for use of archival animal materials; preventing injury, infection, or other damage to workers in the museum; recruiting, training, mentoring, and supervising small crews of students and volunteers; collaborating in research efforts by UM faculty and students, and with state and federal agencies; maintaining and developing new contacts with outreach partners and fundraising efforts; managing funds.

This position requires incumbent to develop working knowledge of UM-specific guidelines and procedures for hiring, retention, training, and employment termination of volunteer workers; develop the ability to edit website information in a UM-compatible content management system; and develop the ability to use collections for research.

Required Skills

  • knowledge of museum archival storage methods and techniques, including detailed knowledge of museum cabinets and proper storage and protective materials in order to research, design, and order custom-made museum storage supplies and equipment.
  • Knowledge of proper storage methods for the specific requirements of the wide variety of biological materials in the UM collections, to prevent aging and deterioration of specimens.
  • Knowledge of the range of environmental hazards that affect museum collections, and the recording and prevention of such threats.
  • Knowledge of museum pest control materials and techniques including prevention of pest problems, pest control chemicals and their proper application, laws governing pesticides and their applications, identification of pest species, freezing as a pest control method, and safety procedures.
  • Knowledge of current strengths of the museum, and needs in the teaching collections, based on the mission and goals of the museum.
  • Knowledge of preparation techniques for vertebrate specimens, including preparation of bird and mammal taxidermy skins and mounts, preparation of skeletal specimens using live dermestid beetles and other methods, and preparation and storage of specimens in alcohol.
  • Knowledge of museum’s written collections management policies and procedures manual, supervision of all access to and loans of museum materials, and facility with database software used in building and maintaining museum digital catalogs.
  • Ability to supervise and enforce all museum policies.
  • Ability to manage assignment of keys.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Knowledge of all state, federal, and local laws and regulations regarding transactions involving animal specimens or parts thereof.
  • Knowledge of and ability to accurately identify animal specimens or parts thereof, in order to avoid personal liability for museum activities.
  • Knowledge of and ability to take preventative actions to prevent injury, infection, or other damage to workers in the museum.
  • Knowledge of potential diseases and health risks from handling biological specimens and their prevention; such risks include rabies, hantavirus, and bacterial infections.
  • Knowledge of supervisory personnel skills, including hiring, training, and disciplinary actions.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, both oral and written, and a desire to communicate UMZM activities and accomplishments to a broad audience, including use of social media.
  • Demonstrated ability to operate personal computers, related word processing, spreadsheet and database software with the ability to learn other software.

Minimum Required Experience

  • Master’s degree in Museum Science or related field (e.g., Zoology) or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with mammalian and avian taxonomy, especially of the Rocky Mountain west.