Associate Director of Exhibit Content Development

Organization: California Academy of Sciences (AZA Member)
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Job or Internship: Job

The California Academy of Sciences offers an exciting opportunity for an experienced Exhibit Content Developer to take an active role in leading a team to create stimulating and engaging scientific and sustainability-themed content using innovative interpretive strategies. The incumbent will also act as exhibit content developer for his/her projects. This position reports to the Director of Exhibits and Design.


As Manager:

•Mentor, coach, evaluate and supervise a team of two exhibit content developers, one content researcher and one exhibits registrar, and hire and liaise with outside contractors as needed.

•Ensure that all Academy exhibits are informative, engaging, innovative, relevant and scientifically accurate.

•Work with the team to facilitate the acquisition of objects, specimens, and image assets for exhibits.

•Facilitate positive and effective content collaboration between exhibit development and numerous stakeholders.

•Follow and contribute to the Academy’s exhibit development process.

•Ensure work is prepared on time in accordance with exhibit schedules, and on or below budget.

As Exhibit Content Developer:

•Serve as lead in exhibit development phase; oversee content research, and develop interpretive strategies for assigned exhibits. Includes brainstorming, visitor research, literature review, theme and topics development and interactive development in collaboration with exhibit designers and outside departments.

•Provide team guidance in interpretive strategies that link ideas, use of collections and media for intended audience(s).

•Ensure goals and objectives for content development and interpretive design are clearly established, reviewed at specified points in the process, attained in the exhibit, evaluated and redressed by remediation, when practical.

•Identify and help secure resources (specimens, artifacts, explanatory photos, scientific and educational resources, etc.).

•Develop lively text for labels, scripts and signage; edit texts and make revisions.

•Collaborate effectively with exhibit designers, graphic designers and media developers.

•Collaborate effectively with researchers, research fellows and other scientific partners. Facilitate content review by in-house staff and outside consultants, and coordinate distribution of exhibit content summaries and updates.

•Coordinate with managers and directors in the rest of the Public Engagement and Education Division to assess and ensure educational value of exhibits.

•Stay current in the exhibit development field to pursue best practices, initiate relevant partnerships and help the Academy serve new audiences.

•Follow Academy safety regulations.

•Perform other duties as assigned.


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


The ideal candidate will possess a combination of the following education and/or equivalent experience:

•Bachelor’s degree in natural sciences, museum studies or related field; Master’s degree preferred.

•Minimum of five years experience in exhibit development in an informal science or similar setting.

•Supervisory experience required.

•Demonstrated experience in research and science writing for public audiences of diverse backgrounds, ages and degree of knowledge; advanced understanding of English grammar and proofreading.

•Experience in developing, analyzing, implementing and responding to the results of exhibit evaluations and visitor studies.

•Thorough understanding of exhibit development principles, practices and concepts including contributing to the design and integration of interactive media, and digital technology in exhibits

•Experience in developing exhibit checklists and acquiring and using natural history collections, works of art, image assets, and live animals in exhibits.


The Academy is seeking an experienced leader who knows how to support and develop an effective team and who has:

•Ability to multitask, successfully handling multiple projects simultaneously and meet tight deadlines.

•Excellent verbal and written communication skills; strong diplomacy skills

•The ability to work successfully in a team environment as well as independently and to foster collaboration and trust among diverse stakeholders

•The ability to balance multiple projects and meet deadlines

•The ability to effectively develop thematic structures for exhibits using a variety of methods and techniques that clearly communicate concepts to general audience(s).

•Familiarity with environmental and sustainability content and science and scientific processes and has the ability to translate them into engaging exhibits

•Experience in developing exhibits that incorporate live public programming

•The ability to write clearly, concisely and imaginatively.

•Knowledge of research methodology and data gathering techniques.

•Knowledge of conservation factors and proper handling of artifacts.

•Knowledge and skill in museum exhibit methodology.

•Passion to ensure that exhibit content is not only intellectually, but also emotionally, engaging. Exhibits should have a “fun” or “Wow!” factor that will drive attendance to the Academy.


The incumbent will have the ability to; read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals, write eloquent reports and correspondence, speak effectively before groups or individuals and read and interpret floor plans and elevations.


The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing his or her duties, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, and reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear. Must be able to perform repetitive motions 75% of the time. Must be able to lift 40 lbs.

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes applications from individuals who will contribute to its diversity.