Costume Institute seeks full time Senior Curator

Job Description
Job Title: Senior Curator of Costume, Costume Institute, Zeitz MOCAA Department: Curatorial
Duration: Ongoing
Reporting to: Executive Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA Start date: Immediate
Salary: R 600,000 per annum (Cost to company with all deductions, including Pay as You Earn, Unemployment Insurance Fund Contributions, health insurance, and any other government mandated deductions, withheld from this amount)



Zeitz MOCAA is the only major museum in Africa with a dedicated focus on contemporary costume.  The Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA, critically engages with cutting edge contemporary costume, fashion, and body embellishment by leading designers and artists from Africa and its Diaspora, and internationally.

The Costume Institute’s mission is to acquire a representative collection of contemporary costume by designers from Africa and its Diaspora, and internationally, to preserve, research and interpret costume, and to develop supporting educational and enrichment programmes for all.  This is achieved through an array of exhibitions, screenings, events, educational activities, and happenings that engage local and international audiences with all facets of contemporary costume.


Purpose of the job

The purpose of this job is to develop, preserve, and research the costume collection, organize costume exhibitions and supporting programs, and to provide leadership for the Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA. The incumbent supervises the staff of the Costume Institute. The curator will work closely with the museum’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, Senior Curators, Curators at Large, Adjunct Curators, Registrar, Assistant Curators, and Preparators on all museum-wide initiatives and projects, as well as with external stakeholders including practicing designers, artisans, curators, gallerists, and architects.


Key responsibilities

To lead the Costume Institute, in collecting, researching, preserving and exhibiting cutting edge contemporary costume, textiles and accessories from Africa and its Diaspora, and the world.

Coordinate and project manage costume, textiles and accessories exhibitions. The incumbent shall curate all areas involving contemporary costume, which is to include garment technology from concept to production, textiles and accessories design.

Represent costume, accessories, and textile activities at senior staff meetings.

To supervise the Assistant Curators of the Costume Institute, as well as manage the team within the Costume Institute.

Complete and/or oversee original research and collate existing materials on objects in Zeitz MOCAA’s costume collection. This will include the creation and collating of written texts on costume artefacts.

Manage external contractors supplying Zeitz MOCAA with services related to the development of the Costume Institute.

Generate and edit content for online platforms based on ongoing Costume Institute programming and exhibitions.

Convene the Costume Institute Acquisition Committee on a regular basis to consider acquisitions through purchase and donation.

Convene the Costume Institute Council and work closely with the museum’s Council Manager to develop and sustain the Costume Institute Council.

Work closely with the Director of the museum’s Curatorial Training Programme to ensure the ingoing success and relevance of this programme.

Work closely with the museum’s Director of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs to identify and solicit financial, in-kind and costume donations.

Work closely with the Museum’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, Senior Curators, Curators at Large, Adjunct Curators, and other senior staff to accomplish the Museum’s mission.

Complete other tasks as required.  

Person specification

This role focuses on research and interpretation, requiring an individual with a high standard of accuracy, consistency, and creativity. The selected curator will be required to work successfully under sustained pressure and should be able to creatively and positively respond to challenges they face. They should also be a good communicator with a focused, professional manner, a knowledge of major developments within the fashion industry, including garment production and technology and a demonstrated commitment to contemporary costume from Africa and its Diaspora, and the world.


Required experience and skills

Completion of a graduate degree, such as a Master of Arts (MA), Masters of Fine Arts (MFA), Masters of Technology (M-Tech) or Doctorate (PHD) in curating, fashion design, art history, visual culture, fine arts, or an equivalent qualification.

Minimum of 5 years’ experience working within a cultural context or fashion industry.

An established background in curation.

Excellent research and writing skills with demonstrable writing examples such as published articles or texts focusing on design and culture.

Demonstrable leadership skills and ability to lead a team.

Ability to find information and effectively transcribe it into written, visual and audio texts.

Ability to work well with others and communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders at all levels.

Strong administration and coordination skills, with a methodical approach and attention to detail.

Ability to work independently and deliver work within agreed timeframes.

Effective problem solving skills.

Strong computer skills, including using the MS Office packages, and a willingness to learn new computer skills.

Passionate and knowledgeable about contemporary costume from Africa and its Diaspora, as well as international practice.

As a cutting edge equal opportunity institution, Zeitz MOCAA celebrates diversity in all its forms including gender, race, creed, and orientation. To apply, please email a letter of motivation, CV, two references and two writing examples focusing on costume or fashion to by 15 December 2017.


About Zeitz MOCAA

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum that collects, preserves, researches and exhibits twenty- first-century art from Africa and its Diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all. More than 100 galleries, spread over nine floors, are dedicated to a large cutting-edge permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute.

Zeitz MOCAA was established through a partnership between the V&A Waterfront led by CEO David Green–acting on behalf of Growthpoint Properties Limited and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), represented by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF)–and collector Jochen Zeitz. The building was reimagined through a design by the acclaimed London-based Heatherwick Studio.Mark Coetzee serves as the Executive Director and Chief Curator.

The Zeitz MOCAA board consists of David Green and Jochen Zeitz (Co-chairs), Isaac Julien and Wangechi Mutu (Artist Board Members), Suzanne Ackerman, Jody Allen, Jonathan Bloch, Kate Garwood, Pulane Kingston, Gasant Orrie, Albie Sachs, Anton Taljaard, Roger Ross Williams, and Mark Coetzee (Ex Officio).


Additional Information

The Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA takes as its mandate the responsibility to collect and preserve for future generations the extraordinary contemporary fashion arts to be found in Africa and its Diaspora, and the world, and to use and exhibit the collection to educate and inspire. All costume designers originating from the continent, and internationally, will be celebrated and exhibited. This institution has a mission to represent the diversity of creativity in Africa and its influence beyond our shores.

The Costume Institute hosts exhibitions from around the world sharing them with local audiences.  The permanent collection of the Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA is being built through various collecting strategies.

The Costume Institute Council, consisting of leaders in fashion, work to bring together funds for an endowment especially established to build the Costume Institute’s permanent collection. The Costume Institute is also the beneficiary of funds raised at the Annual Zeitz MOCAA Costume Institute Gala.

The Costume Institute is honoured to have received donations to its collections from various donors. These donations have come from the archives of designers themselves, from recent shows of young graduates, or from individuals who have seriously focused on building costume collections. An acquisition committee of leading practitioners, journalists and curators is in place that decides on all donations to ensure that only relevant, museum quality pieces, which demonstrate exceptional technical skill and cultural relevance, enter the permanent collection.  Curators at Zeitz MOCAA also commission specific pieces by artists and designers for exhibitions and the permanent collection.

With increasing attention being focused on the creative industries in Africa, the Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA will position costume designers in Africa along with their peers internationally and guarantee their contribution is not only acknowledged but also celebrated.  By providing space within a museum for collecting, preserving, researching and exhibiting costume, we demonstrate a concrete respect and value for the importance costume plays in our everyday lives and how the industry of fashion not only develops financial wealth but also the cultural wealth and power it provides to each of us to define ourselves on our terms, according to our choices, to those around us.

The Costume Institute has a permanent home at Zeitz MOCAA, with dedicated galleries, hosting changing exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection and selected loans. By creating a permanent site for contemporary fashion, we will develop audiences through an ongoing dialogue with lovers of costume through lectures, workshops, guided tours, social events, fashion shows, publications, and children’s educational programming.  Each year, the Costume Institute takes over a full floor of temporary galleries at the museum for large comprehensive exhibitions and retrospectives.