Curator - Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden is seeking a passionate plantsperson to fill the role of curator. Overseeing a collection of more than 13,000 taxa, the curator is responsible for developing distinct, resilient plant collections through acquisition, donations, and plant exploration.

Duties and Responsibilities

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Manage curatorial activities of the living plant collection ensuring focused growth, accurate documentation, verification, and annual reporting.
  • Acquire plants for the living collections through purchases, nursery/grower donations, garden transfers, and collections trips.
  • Conduct regular inventories and verifications of the living collection as directed.
  • Ensure the Garden is in compliance with all laws and regulations pertaining to its living collections and its collecting activities.
  • Monitor and report on the overall condition and scope of the living plant collections and their associated documentation.
  • Plan and execute domestic and foreign plant exploration trips.
  • Create and manage annual budgets.
  • Represent the Garden through participation in professional organizations, development of publications, and by presenting at appropriate conferences/symposia.
  • Establish and promote effective systems of communication with the horticulture staff regarding the use of the living collection. Work integrally with the horticulture staff to incorporate new plants into existing landscapes.
  • Assist horticulture staff with issues relating to plant performance, plant selection, and plant identification.
  • Work with other departments to provide the Garden’s public and professional audience with a broad understanding of the Garden’s collections through tours, lectures, symposia, publications, interpretation, radio/television, exhibitions, and special events.
  • Maximize the efficient use of volunteers in carrying out the curation of the living plant collection.
  • Work with the Development staff to secure funds for staffing, program, and infrastructure support as directed.

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired:

  • Communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style; builds alliances.
  • Has a tolerance for opposing points of view.
  • Strives for collaboration. Works cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and shows kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Makes decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; is flexible, and embraces change with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Is self-aware; knows personal strengths and weaknesses; seeks feedback and is open to negative feedback as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Is cool under pressure; can be counted on to hold things together during tough times; can handle stress; is not knocked off balance by the unexpected; is a settling influence during a crisis.
  • Recognizes problems, constructively identifies and articulates solutions.
  • Picks up garbage when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Is welcoming of new hires.


Our ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Bachelor of science or higher degree in horticulture, botany, taxonomy, or closely related field.
  • Excellent plant identification and botanical nomenclature knowledge.
  • Excellent verbal and written skills and a thorough understanding of collections management in a public institution.

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