Sr. Application Developer at the Art Institute of Chicago

Senior Application Developer, Collections


The Art Institute of Chicago is seeking a Senior Application Developer for a full-time, salaried position to support the ongoing development and maintenance of a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) for the Museum collections.

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. It is encyclopedic in nature with strong holdings across all media, all traditions and all ages. The Art Institute is particularly recognized for its extraordinary Impressionist, Modern, Contemporary, Asian and American collections, among other aspects of its holdings.

The AIC Collections DAMS, named LAKE, has been launched in February 2017 and will be opened to full institutional access within the next few months. LAKE is poised to become the Museum’s central repository for preserving, managing, accessing and publishing millions of digital assets related to the life cycle of all AIC collection items. LAKE will store very diverse kinds of digital assets and will be accessed by staff from over 25 departments with widely different access levels. LAKE is also meant to integrate with several existing applications and data sources as both a data provider and a data consumer.

LAKE is a groundbreaking effort by a major museum to embrace standards-based, community-driven open source software to build its core data repository. It is an exciting and challenging project requiring skilled, forward-thinking individuals with a strong commitment to its core values.


LAKE consists of a Fedora repository ( serving as the central data store; an administrative front end based on Hydra (; an Apache Camel-based integration framework; triplestore and Solr indexes; a Python ETL framework used to migrate legacy data and synchronize legacy systems; and a set of mirror systems (Fedora, Solr, IIIF server) specifically aimed at serving web-published data.

The candidate will be responsible for developing, maintaining, deploying, testing and documenting software related to the above mentioned areas, primarily focused on the Hydra management front end, and in part on ETL scripts. The candidate is expected to gain at least a general understanding of the whole architecture within the first few months; as experience progresses, he or she may become involved in other areas of LAKE for backup support.

The candidate may also be in charge of keeping some of the systems on which LAKE runs in good health, helping to configure new systems, upgrading local software packages and applying security patches promptly. He or she will coordinate some of these activities with the Network Services team. The candidate is expected to give realistic estimates, deliver in a timely manner and switch between different projects according to priorities.

The candidate will be expected to prioritize work according to tickets assigned to him or her via a bug tracking system (Redmine), updating these tickets as work progresses, and requesting feedback via the same ticketing system when needed. He or she may be required to review other developers’ code, comment on commits and manage merging of pull requests and branches.

Where appropriate, the candidate is expected to proactively initiate discussion with other team members on issues involving multiple areas of LAKE and collaboratively resolve such issues. Interaction with communities supporting upstream projects is also expected, if necessary participating in interest groups and working groups on topics shared with other institutions.

The candidate will be an active part of the team by informing technical decisions based on his or her research and ideas; to this end, it is expected that the candidate will dedicate part of his or her time to researching new technologies and keeping abreast of tools, best practices and patterns relevant to this position as well as to the Digital Humanities fields in general. Attendance to conferences and other events related to museum and repository technology is expected.

This position reports to the Director of Application Services, Collections. It coordinates with two Senior Software Architects and a Senior Software Developer, and occasionally with on- or off-site contractors.


We are looking for a skilled developer, able to work with a complex architecture providing mission-critical services for the Museum and with a quickly evolving technology. Attention to details, eagerness to learn, ability to grasp and communicate the root cause of issues, and a strong sense of team play are key factors making up our ideal candidate.

Primary Requirements

  • Working experience with Ruby on Rails, especially with complex gem stacks; previous experience with Hydra is ideal
  • Working experience with Python (>=3.4)
  • Proficiency in Solr (>=5.5) query and schema language; SolrCloud administration a plus
  • Previous experience with large and complex data repositories

Bonus Skills

  • Familiarity with, or ability to learn, RDF, semantic stores and SPARQL
  • Thorough understanding of the HTTP protocol and REST API patterns
  • Experience with, or interest in learning, the IIIF protocol ( and related tools (Mirador, Universal Viewer, etc.)
  • Experience building functional, intuitive user interfaces with HTML, CSS and JS frameworks (JQuery, Bootstrap)
  • Experience with configuring Apache httpd, Tomcat, Varnish Cache and other server systems
  • Ability to interact with cross-institutional teams within the Digital Humanities community

What We Offer

The candidate will expect to be working with a friendly team with an excellent technical knowledge and an open mind to new ideas. He or she will enjoy a great work/life balance, competitive benefits, an office aquarium and a rewarding everyday experience.

We offer a competitive, comprehensive benefits package:

  • 5+ weeks of paid time off
  • Paid holidays (up to 14 days)
  • Medical, dental and vision insurance
  • Competitive retirement plan (up to 9% matching contribution)
  • Tuition remission and tuition exchange program
  • Great employee discounts
  • Complimentary general admission to participating cultural institutions

Please contact Stefano Cossu ( for inquiries.

The Art Institute of Chicago is an equal opportunity, equal access employer fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace.