Job Opportunity – Curator of Natural History

High Desert Museum Job Opportunity – Curator of Natural History

Title: Curator of Natural History

Division: Programs

Classification: Salaried, regular full-time exempt  

Reports To: Director of Programs

Supervises: Associated interns and volunteers

Salary Range: $53,000-$58,000, dependent upon experience


High Desert Museum – Organization Description

Since opening in 1982, THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding of the natural and cultural heritage of North America’s High Desert country. We do so through indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife in natural habitats, living history demonstrations and dynamic programs on a beautiful, 135-acre campus in the pine forest. The Museum is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was awarded the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Services. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, 195,000 visitors enjoyed the Museum.

The Museum is located in Bend, Oregon, a fast-growing, charismatic city nestled against the Cascade Range at the edge of the High Desert. We strive to be inclusive, culturally humble, relevant, curious, and mindful. As a team, we work together to wildly excite and responsibly teach, creating connection to and dialogue about the High Desert.

Job Summary

The High Desert Museum seeks a Curator of Natural History to provide all aspects of research, exhibition and program development about the natural history and the relationship between people and the natural and cultural resources of the High Desert. The Curator of Natural History will have the intellectual vision and practical skills necessary to create thought-provoking exhibitions and inspiring community programs.

Importantly, we recognize and honor that the qualifications required to excel in this position can come from a range of both professional and lived experiences. Below we describe what we believe to be important qualifications for a candidate while remaining open to the diversity of experiences that can lead to these skill sets. Position descriptions are often presented in a way that leaves qualified candidates feeling unwelcome, intimidated, uncomfortable and/or unqualified to apply. Recognizing that, we strongly encourage anyone who feels passionate about this work and believes they have what it takes to thrive in this role to apply.


  • Masters degree in zoology, biology, ecology or related field required; or combination of education and work experience (Bachelors degree, supplemented with 2 years curatorial experience)
  • Thorough knowledge of natural history with specific expertise in the High Desert and Intermountain West regions
  • Public speaking experience
  • Proven ability to work as part of a team, establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with fellow employees, volunteers and the general public
  • Ability to communicate and work collaboratively with a diverse range of groups and institutions, including federal agencies, museums, nonprofits and tribal nations
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, justice, equity, inclusion, accessibility and diversity practices
  • Balance team and individual responsibilities; exhibit objectivity and openness to others’ views; give and welcome feedback; contribute to building a positive team spirit; ability to build morale and group commitments to goals and objectives and supports everyone’s efforts to succeed
  • Experience working with museum collections
  • Excellent organizational, communication and writing skills
  • Detailed-oriented while handling multiple projects and deadlines

Preferred Experience and Skills

  • Proven curatorial track record of creating compelling exhibitions and public programs

Responsibilities and Tasks


  1. In collaboration with the Director of Programs and the Curator of Wildlife, create and execute a short-term and long-term vision for natural history exhibitions and programs at the Museum and in the community.
  2. Collaborate with Museum staff on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation process.
  3. Develop and maintain partnerships with organizations, institutions and tribes throughout the community, region and beyond to further enhance the Museum’s role as a resource for wildlife, natural history and conservation information.
  4. Represent the Museum at professional meetings, forums and/or workshops.
  5. Embrace, support and help implement the Museum’s continued learning and commitment to justice, diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion.
  6. In coordination with the Communications Team, represent the Museum as needed in a variety of mediums, including social media, print, photography and video, in materials produced by both the Museum and by journalists sharing the story of the Museum’s work.
  7. Develop and manage the department budget.


  1. As a key member of the Exhibitions Team, plan and execute temporary and permanent exhibitions about natural history and the relationship between people and the natural and cultural resources of the High Desert. Activities include, and are not limited to: identifying specimens and objects for loan; researching content; writing exhibit labels, panels and essays for collateral publications; and collaborating with the team on exhibition design and installation.
  2. Adhere to exhibition deadlines and budgets for temporary and permanent

Public Programs

  1. Collaborate with Curators and partner organizations to continue current programs and develop new public programs for people of all ages in connection with the Museum’s permanent and changing exhibitions, permanent collections and strategic plan.
  2. Plan and lead lectures, field trips, tours and interpretive programs with an emphasis on local and regional natural history to diverse audiences.
  3. Collaborate with the Curator of Education and Engagement on the development and implementation of programs for students and teachers in grades PreK through 16.


  1. Collaborate with other Curators to provide direction and support to the Museum’s interpretation program, including refining interpretive goals and developing a variety of interpretive techniques and approaches to engage and inform visitors.
  2. Ensure interpretation embodies the Museum’s mission and strategic plan and welcomes all audiences by honoring their many cultures, abilities, backgrounds and lived experiences.
  3. Recruit, train, mentor and supervise paid interns and volunteers.


  1. In conjunction with the Collections Committee, adhere to the Museum’s Collection Management Policy and develop a strategic vision for the Museum’s natural history
  2. Collect specimens, objects and materials in accordance with the Collections Management Policy and Strategic Collecting
  3. Cultivate and maintain new and existing donors to enhance the Museum’s natural history

The Museum provides an equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/transgender status, age, disability, veteran or marital status, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.


The High Desert Museum wildly excites and responsibly teaches through innovative, interdisciplinary experiences, creating connection to and dialogue about the High Desert

Please send resume & cover letter to the High Desert Museum,