California Arts Council

State of California

Artist Call Detail

Artist in Residence Program
For California artists

This opportunity is open to artists who live and work in California and Baja California, Mexico.

Artist in Residence Program at the San Diego Natural History Museum 

Deadline: 11:59AM, July 21, 2017

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) is seeking artists for the launch of its inaugural Artist in Residence Program. This program invites outgoing, public-minded candidates of any artistic discipline to use their practice as a lens through which the Museum’s scientific research, collections, and history can be brought into focus. The Museum will host two residencies, each of which will take place over the course of three months in the fall/winter of 2017-18. The Artist in Residence Program offers artists an exclusive opportunity to engage with Museum scientists and vast research collections while interpreting science through artistic practice in the public realm. In addition, the resident artist will help to create public engagement opportunities during their residency and will work towards a culminating public event that will highlight the body of work created during the residency.

With these broad objectives in mind, theNAT asks that applicants consider how their artistic practice could be applied to address the following themes, which are at the core of the Museum’s mission and vision:

  • The importance and impact of museum collections
  • Southern California and Baja California as a biodiversity hotspot
  • New scientific discoveries

Residencies are open to individual and collaborative groups of all disciplines, including (but not limited to) writers, poets, storytellers, dancers, designers, cartographers, musicians, video and film artists, as well as multi-modal artist collectives. Ideal candidates will have experience in performance, events, installations, new media, social practices, audience-activated artworks, and audience engagement. Artists will work collaboratively with theNAT’s public programs staff, as well as with the Museum’s Research, Exhibits, and Marketing Departments. This opportunity is open to artists who live and work in California and Baja California, Mexico. 

Interviews will take place the week of July 31st, with the first residency starting in September 2017 and ending in November or early December 2017. The second residency will start in January 2018 and end in March or early April 2018.

Residency Summary 

Schedule: Will range from 2-10 hours per week—flexible depending on project schedule, public program needs, and other coordination efforts with scientists, collections managers, and exhibits staff

Term of Residency: 12 weeks

Compensation: $4,000 term stipend for each residency, plus a $500 materials budget to support exhibit installation, consumables for public programs, and support for performances per the needs of the residency

Venue: The residency and associated programs will take place at the San Diego Natural History Museum, though elements of the residency may take place at off-site locations pending approval from the Museum

Hours: Artists will work with the Museum’s Public Programs team within the Education Department to set hours

Reports to: Audience Engagement Manager at San Diego Natural History Museum


Ideal candidates have five or more years of demonstrated artistic practice and can articulate in their application how they possess the following traits and competencies:

  • Adaptability and Approachability: The artist is able to learn quickly and adapt their practice on the fly—this is crucial when working with the Museum staff, scientists, and collections. Due to the fact that science is at its core a dynamic process, the artist will embrace and maintain a willingness to interact with others through their practice in an evolving work environment.
  • Scientific Thinking: The artist actively uses scientific ways of thinking, such as observation, inquiry, adaptive thinking, and critical evaluation to investigate their artistic practice.
  • Self-Direction and Collaboration: The artist is comfortable taking the lead on their practice, while fully embracing the collaborative nature of working with Museum scientists and staff.
  • Public Engagement: The artist has a keen desire to make their practice visible to the public by engaging in dialogue and developing tools and methods to invite the public to engage with the artist’s practice and, by proxy, the Museum’s collections/research/scientists.
  • Artistic Voice: The artist has cultivated a robust and distinct artistic practice and direction, as well as a working knowledge about and enthusiasm for a wide range of artistic and scientific work.


Resident Artists will:

  • Meet regularly with Museum staff
  • Work with scientists, Museum staff, and the public
  • Establish and follow a suitable timeline for project research, development, and exhibition
  • Develop a public installation, activity, or performance for the culminating event at the end of the residency that highlights the body/piece of work created during the residency
  • Propose and develop opportunities for spontaneous or ongoing public engagement/participation
  • Document their residency in collaboration with Museum staff

Deadline: 07-21-2017
San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego, CA

Contact: Robert Rutherford

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