Guest Curatorships

Five Oaks Museum is now accepting proposals for two Guest Curator opportunities: The 2020 Summer exhibition Guest Curatorship focused on fine art, and 2020-21 School-year exhibition Guest Curatorship focused on cultural and historical content.

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 is a stipended project 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.

The summer exhibition is an opportunity to use the museum’s entire exhibition hall as a platform for artists whose work makes important contributions to cultural dialogues. Proposals featuring solo or group shows are accepted, and supporting artists who may not typically be given preference in formal institutional settings is encouraged.

The school-year 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 addition to time to write and design the displays, and is highly supported by our expert staff from beginning to end. The exhibition produced for the school year becomes the basis for curriculum that is given to thousands of area elementary school students and learners of all ages.


Info Session
Tuesday, February 4th from 1-3pm


Application Period Closes
Monday, February 17th at 5pm


Two exhibits, two opportunities:

The museum has two major exhibits each year, and are accepting proposals for both.

Summer exhibit:
For summer the museum’s main exhibit hall is dedicated entirely to an exhibit that prioritizes display of fine art. Proposals for this exhibit can feature single or multiple artists and are encouraged, but not required, to be multi-disciplinary. 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. This exhibit coincides with the Portland Community College Rock Creek summer term but 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 follows the academic calendar in order to offer a thoughtful and exciting cultural resource that can also support curriculum offerings for area schools from elementary through college. The School-year exhibit sees the heaviest traffic of all the museum’s exhibits and the School-year Guest Curatorship is a deeper engagement than summer, including a research period in the museum’s collections and archives and a public talk.

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

Curator Responsibilities:
The following are the areas where Guest Curators have primary responsibility. Staff can serve as supporters or collaborators in any of these areas as long as Guest Curator clearly indicates that need/ desire.


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


Strong proposals will:

  • 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.

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


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 conclude


  • 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

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