Phillips Oppenheim

Chief Curator, Toronto, ON




The mission of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is to "bring people together with art to see, experience and understand the world in new ways." This is achieved by focusing on great art, learning, and a commitment to being accessible to its diverse public.

Founded in 1900, the AGO is among the largest and most distinguished art museums in North America, located in downtown Toronto and connected to the city through its innovative building design and revitalized Grange Park. At 500,000+ square feet, the AGO has a rich, diverse collection of more than 90,000 works of art, a staff of 680, 500 volunteers, 100,000 members, and an annual budget of $60 million. It has a robust exhibition and publications program as well as permanent collection galleries. The AGO seeks to offer interactive, responsive, and compelling public programs and learning opportunities.


The AGO seeks a permanent full-time leader who will galvanize and inspire its curatorial staff to develop an engaging exhibition program, deepen relations with its donors, and continue to build and preserve its substantial collection. The Chief Curator must be dedicated to exploring the changing nature of art museums and their relationships to the public, and firmly committed both to excellence in art and the importance of education and learning.

The Chief Curator will work closely with the Director and CEO to develop a visionary exhibition program and collecting strategy to engage audiences. S/He will help propel the museum forward by: motivating and mentoring a dedicated team to assume greater individual authority while working collectively as a collegial crew to meet the museum's goals; enabling new partnerships through a network of global museum contacts; and guiding others how to interface effectively and directly with collectors and existing and potential donors. The Chief Curator leads a staff of 18 including: four lead curators with expertise in contemporary, Canadian, and European Art and Photography; an additional seven assistant and associate curators; five administrators; and two publications staff. The position is divided into three areas of focus: Curatorial; Administration; and Stewardship.

Curatorial (50 Percent)

It is expected that the Chief Curator will have a public profile and will inspire the curatorial team to excellence in its exhibitions scholarship, collections, and acquisitions. The Chief Curator will also initiate her or his own curatorial projects. Exhibitions should travel globally to peer art museums and must be scholarly and accessible. In partnership with the Director and CEO, the Chief Curator is responsible for developing and implementing a long-term collecting and deaccessioning strategy for growth and refinement, with a focus on quality and content that will further distinguish the AGO among its peers and with its public.

The Chief Curator is an advocate for the entire collection plus archives, and is responsible together with other museum departments for their care, interpretation, and stewardship.

Administration (25 Percent)

The Chief Curator will represent the Department on the AGO's senior leadership team. It is important that the Curatorial Department is a partner with other AGO areas including Advancement, Exhibitions, Public Programming and Learning, Finance, and Buildings. The Chief Curator will ensure that all curatorial standards and processes are followed with regard to the collection, governance (including Board committees), and compliance. It is vital that the Chief Curator can inspire the entire museum staff to understand the importance of exhibitions and collections. The Chief Curator must be responsive and possess the skills to be a great manager of people.

Stewardship (25 Percent)

The Chief Curator will have a public profile in the community and will deepen relationships with collectors and new and existing donors in the city and more broadly in Canada, fostering a sense of connection with the AGO, together with the curatorial team. This includes overseeing and traveling with various curatorial donor groups under the guidance and support of the museum's Advancement Division. The Chief Curator will be a visible representative of the AGO at high-profile art events and activities, both on site and on the global stage.


  • Respected professional (master's degree in art required; PhD in art preferred) possessing a broad knowledge of art history and respected connoisseurship in a dedicated area of expertise.
  • Ten years' experience at a leadership level within major collecting institutions.
  • Commitment to excellence in art, institutional best practices, and the highest ethical standards.
  • Track record of significant exhibitions and publications that are scholarly and accessible.
  • Effective communicator and collaborator with excellent written and verbal skills.
  • Ability to inspire and motivate curators, collectors, and community; collaborative and team-oriented.
  • Minimum of five years of experience managing a team.
  • Experienced and at ease in patron stewardship; able to win their trust and support.
  • Strong network of peers at major arts institutions around the globe.
  • A highly creative, ideally visionary, thinker.
  • Adept multitasker able to maintain a positive disposition under stress.
  • Familiarity with or willingness to learn about Canadian culture and art.
  • Recommended five years of experience with budget and fiscal management.
  • Willingness to travel and work evenings.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English required, with French highly desirable.


  • Annual base salary range of CDN $150,000 to $190,000 based on qualifications, skills, and experience may be increased based on an annual review.
  • Participation in annual bonus program.


  • Medical Benefits, Dental Benefits, Vision Care Benefits.
  • Disability and Life Insurance Benefits.
  • Defined Contribution Pension Plan.
  • Relocation allowance to be considered.
  • Attractions Ontario Reciprocal Admissions Program.
  • AGO Advantage Program (discounts on transit passes, gym memberships, select gallery programming, merchandise, memberships, etc.).

The Art Gallery of Ontario is located at:
317 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5T 1G4

We invite individuals who reflect the diversity of our visitors to apply. Please submit applications and nominations to the attention of Sarah James and Becky Klein at This position will be posted until filled.

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