Guest Curatorships

2020 Guest Curator applications are now closed. Check back in December 2020 for 2021 applications!

The content below offers a sample outline of the two guest curator opportunities offered at the museum. Details are subject to change. 


2020 Invitation for Guest Curator Proposals

Do you want to share your unique cultural perspectives and help shape the defining stories of our region?

The Guest Curator program at the museum de-centers the authoritative voice of major exhibitions, entrusting the community with their own cultural storytelling. Guest Curators have creative control over the design, content, and texts of a major exhibition filling the museum’s 1,200 square foot exhibition hall. Staff will support the Guest Curators in utilizing the museum’s cultural resources, developing curriculum, logistics and project management as needed.

Both Guest Curatorships for 2020-21 are stipended projects designed to require no more than a few hours in any given week (except, likely, for installation week). Five Oaks Museum staff, especially the Cultural Resources Manager, Learning Coordinator and Co-Director, will work collaboratively and in support of the Guest Curators throughout. Both Curatorships begin in March; the Summer Curatorship concludes when that exhibition concludes and the School Year Curatorship concludes in October (any engagement after that is voluntary or compensated on a case-by-case basis).

Five Oaks Museum has a 64 year history; a former county historical society grown into an independent nonprofit museum, it is now a platform for culturally embedded history, arts and culture. The institution makes space for challenging dialogues and critique, and values innovative, accessible learning opportunities.

Two exhibits, two opportunities:

Summer exhibit:
For summer, the museum’s entire exhibition hall is dedicated entirely to a fine art exhibit. This is an opportunity to use the museum as a platform for artists whose work makes important contributions to cultural dialogues. Proposals for this exhibit can feature single or multiple artists and are encouraged, but not required, to be multi-disciplinary. Supporting artists who may not typically be given preference in formal institutional settings is encouraged.

Relative to the School-year exhibit, the Summer exhibit is smaller in duration, budget, and compensation but not in space; proposals should be mindful of those parameters. There is no standard curriculum component for Summer Exhibits.

Proposals for Summer exhibits are required to feature fine art; they are welcome, but not required, to include cultural and historical elements.

School-year exhibit:
The museum’s School-year exhibit offers a thoughtful and exciting cultural resource for the public that also supports curriculum offerings for area schools from elementary through college. The exhibit is exhibition is a chance to use the museum’s collection of over 100,000 items of material culture to tell urgent and nuanced stories.

This longer residency involves a research period in the museum’s collections and archives, time to write and design the displays, and a public talk after the exhibit opens. This engagement is highly supported by our expert staff from beginning to end. The school-year exhibit then becomes the basis for curriculum that is given to thousands of area elementary school students and learners of all ages.

Proposals for School-year exhibits are required to have historical and cultural elements; they are welcome, but not required, to include art.

Guest Curator Responsibilities

Summer Curator

  • Exhibit concept
  • Identify artist(s) and manage communications with them throughout
  • Explanation of budget use details
  • Exhibit layout/ design
  • Oversee installation
  • Written Curator statement
  • Comments at opening event

School-year Curator

  • Exhibit concept
  • Identify contributors and manage communications with them throughout
  • Research with written summary
  • List of museum artifacts/ resources to be included
  • Explanation of budget use details
  • Exhibit layout/ design
  • Oversee installation
  • Written Curator statement
  • Comments at opening event
  • Public talk

What makes a strong proposal?

  • Connect the museum’s locale to important issues of our times; engage viewers in local and global considerations.
  • Illuminate nuanced, under-explored or under-represented perspectives; have inroads for multiple interpretations.
  • Be strongly rooted in the communities whose stories are being told; be accessible for a wide range of folks.
  • Be inter-disciplinary and multi-media.
  • Demonstrate strong potential for supporting related curriculum at the elementary, high school and college level.
  • Demonstrate the applicant’s readiness to manage the communications and logistics required to execute the proposal successfully.

Financial Arrangements:

Guest Curators receive a fixed stipend as compensation for the entire project. Stipends are paid 50% at the beginning of the work period and 50% at completion. Recipients must submit a W9.

Summer Exhibit: $1,000 / School-year Exhibit: $3,000

Guest Curators have discretion over an exhibit budget.

Summer Exhibit: $1,000 / School-year Exhibit: $3,000

Curators’ budgets are designated ¼ for consultant/artist fees, ¾ for display materials and supplies, shipping, and printing/collateral. Other expenses including marketing, event management, photography, staff time, insurance for objects, and more are covered by the museum. Guest Curators submit an explanation of planned expenses early in the project and will work with the staff to ensure clear division of cost coverage and overall feasibility. All financial transactions are handled by the museum.


December 2019

  • Application period opens

January 2020

  • Application period closes


  • Selection Committee convenes
  • Guest Curators announced


  • Both Guest Curatorship periods begin
  • Research period begins for School-year Curator
  • Exhibit planning begins for Summer Curator


  • School-year Curator completes research


  • School-year Curator begins exhibit planning
  • Summer Curator confirms artists and completes layout


  • Complete installation of Summer Exhibit – Wed July 1
  • Opening event for Summer Exhibit – Thurs July 9 (Summer Guest Curator must be able to attend)
  • School-year Curator confirms contributors and completes layout


  • Summer Exhibit and Summer Guest Curatorship concludes


  • Complete installation of School-year Exhibit – Fri Sept 11
  • Opening event for School-year Exhibit – Thurs Sept 17 (School-year Curator must be available to attend)


  • Fall Guest Curatorship concludes

2020-21 Guest Curator Selection Panel:

One representative from staff
One representative from the museum’s volunteer Cultural Resources Committee
Outgoing Guest Curator – Steph Littlebird Fogel
Roya Amirsolamani, PICA
Sankar Raman, The Immigrant Story
Jennifer Fang, Portland Children’s Museum

Contact for more information:

This is the inaugural year of this program, so we understand that we will be learning alongside you in some cases. If you need clarification, additional information, or other support reach out to Molly Alloy, Co-Director and Guest Curator Program manager, at