Curator of Collections- Full-time

Lisle, IL
Full Time

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned nonprofit dedicated to protecting and growing trees locally and globally.  We are seeking a Curator of Collections to curate a diverse and well-documented rich collection of plants from cold-temperate regions of the world; develop new collections and renovate existing ones as guided by in alignment with the Arboretum’s mission, collections master plan and strategic plan; and lead the systematic evaluation and nomenclatural accuracy of the plants in these collections. The Curator will also oversee the Arboretum’s plant health care program.

Position Summary:

Curate a diverse and well-documented living collection of the temperate world. Develop new collections and renovate existing ones as guided by in alignment with the Arboretum’s mission and strategic plan. Lead the systematic evaluation and nomenclatural accuracy of the plants in these collections. Oversee the plant health care program.

Essential Functions:

  • Develop concepts, interpretive themes, and budgets for the Collections. Seek grants to advance priority projects. 

  • Oversee development of living collections in accordance with Collections Master Plan, including new plantings, renovations, and removals. Work with the Head of Natural Resources and Collections Horticulture to ensure collections are maintained to a high level of care. Initiate non-routine maintenance through appropriate staff.

  • Lead all aspects of documenting the collections through accessioning, inventory control, labeling, and mapping. 

  • Provide managerial support to the Plant Health Care program; review goals and training objectives; ensure that diagnosis and research activities reflect Arboretum priorities. Support dissemination of plant health care information to appropriate staff.

  • Request propagation of desired plants from the Manager of Plant Production. Develop priorities for new plant acquisition. Research and acquire the propagules of plants not available in the collections, through field collection and exchange with other institutions or purchase from commercial sources.

  • Ensure the taxonomy and nomenclature of the specimens in the collections are accurate and up to date. Coordinate the verification and documentation of specimens.

  • Lead the systematic evaluation of the collections. Advance those with potential introduction value to a fuller evaluation through the woody plant development program.

  • Participate actively in or lead plant collections-related projects and initiatives with colleagues and organizations in North America and abroad.

  • Prepare reports on the condition and scope of the collections.

  • Serve as subject matter expert in the fields of horticulture and botany, supporting Arboretum programs as appropriate.

  • Serve as the departmental leader for the Public Horticulture Internship Program. Select interns. Participate in developing schedules, and supervising activities.

  • Supervise Manager of Plant Records, Plant Health Care Leader, Plant Health Care Outreach Specialist and Plant Records Coordinator. Duties include recruitment and selection, scheduling and job assignments, performance feedback, recognition and staff development and training in keeping with the Arboretum’s policies and procedures.

  • Other duties as assigned.


Master’s degree in botany or related field required. 5+ years of  experience in curating and  caring for a living collection of woody plants required. Thorough working knowledge of modern curatorial standards and the literature of spontaneous and cultivated woody plants required. Ability to identify major plant diseases and insect pests.. Excellent written and verbal communication skills required. Must possess a valid driver’s license, which is subject to insurability and an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) report. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google applications is beneficial. Knowledge of or willingness and ability to learn to use GIS (Geographic Information System) and GPS (Global Positioning System) technologies.

Success Factors:

Enthusiastic interest in plants. Ability to demonstrate a creative approach to collection, interpretation, and use. Excellent organization and observation skills with strong attention to detail. Ability to relate effectively with persons internal and external to the Arboretum. Interest in national and international collaborations. Comfortable with public speaking, leading tours, and teaching others. Ability to embrace and align with our employee core values to be inclusive, take ownership, work together, keep learning and make the Arboretum exceptional.

Physical Demands and Work Environment: The physical demands and work environment characteristics 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 these essential functions.

  • Physical Demands: Requires some physical activity: limited lifting and carrying (up to 50 lbs.), bending, climbing (up to 15 feet), pushing and pulling.

  • Work Environment: Work is performed in a combined indoor and outdoor setting. Involves a significant amount of walking and occasional national and international travel. This position is designated as a hybrid-eligible position, allowing for some work to be performed off premise, during regular hours of work.

  • Equipment: General office equipment, pick-up truck, pruning saw, pruning shears, shovel.

All Arboretum employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of that status in order to maintain their employment.

The Morton Arboretum is a champion of diversity, supporting a culture of inclusion that attracts, inspires, and engages people to achieve success. The Arboretum is committed to hire and develop employees based on job-related qualifications irrespective of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or veteran status. To increase diversity in professions related to the public garden realm, we encourage applications from underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.  

The Morton Arboretum is dedicated to complying with our obligations as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All applicants are guaranteed equal consideration for employment. 

Loading Job Application......

If you have questions, please contact