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Director

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The New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA), located 20 minutes southwest of Hartford, CT, seeks an energetic, ambitious Director to lead a highly successful, expanding institution. The current Director will retire after 16 years, having nearly tripled annual attendance to about 100,000 and twice-expanded the facility – all while serving as both Director and Curator. The NBMAA’s high visitation and community involvement has been achieved through an efficacious approach of offering broadly attractive exhibitions, extensive family programming, and a welcoming visitor experience. The Museum has an exemplary Board, loyal art collectors and donors, and a creative, energetic staff. An AAM-accredited museum, the NBMAA has 38 staff (24 FT) and an operating budget of $3 million. A quarter of its income derives from endowment, which totals $21 million and has more than doubled since 2000.

Founded in 1903, the NBMAA is considered the first museum of strictly American art in the country. With strengths in colonial portraiture, the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, and The Eight, plus a famous mural series by Thomas Hart Benton, the 14,000-work collection ranges from 1740 to today. The Museum mounts changing loan exhibitions, mainly created in-house, bringing the region a range of art from historical figures to emerging artists. Special exhibitions and displays in the NEW/NOW Gallery change every three to four months. A wide array of educational offerings serves the region, made possible in part by a corps of over 400 volunteers including over 100 docents. Learn more by downloading the .pdf file.

STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES

The new Director will arrive following the exciting September/October 2015 opening of a 17,000 square-foot addition designed by architect Ann Beha. The addition will permit a new and expanded interpretation of the permanent collection and enhanced educational and public programming. The expansion is expected to itself generate a bounce in attendance and membership, adding to the prospect of immediate success for the new Director, while he/she develops a longer-term vision for expanded programming, exhibitions, and collection acquisitions. The current capital campaign for the building is expected to be nearly completed before the new Director arrives, with the construction cost of the addition already secured. As of January 2015, the campaign had achieved $17.7 million of its $22-million goal.

The Director will have the opportunity to maintain the Museum’s remarkable momentum and to continue to engage its loyal donor base, while reaching out to new donors, collectors, experts, and artists. Current success has come largely from engaging private philanthropists from Connecticut and beyond, and the Director must enjoy friend-making, social occasions, and fundraising. Essential skills include ability for external outreach and for communicating enthusiasm for art, the Museum, and an exciting new vision to constituencies from local families and government officials to regional and national patrons and foundation officers.

The Director job has been historically formulated as a Director/Curator position, and the new Director will have the option of assuming both roles or hiring a full-time curator. The new Director can determine whether, given the Museum’s larger scale today and its fast-paced forward momentum, two positions would better ensure a successful and manageable tenure. The Board is open to either approach and welcomes a range of candidate perspectives.

The Director reports to the Board of Trustees. He/she will be offered a highly competitive salary, contingent upon experience and whether he/she decides to fill both the Director and Curator roles or to split the job in two by hiring a curator.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPETENCIES

The position requires a combination of professional credentials and the skills for successful social engagement and fundraising. To qualify, applicants should present the following experience and abilities:

  • Creative and forward-thinking, with a record of advancing a museum or department in exciting and creative ways.
  • History of success and significant achievements as a leader in a recognized art museum.
  • Strong strategic thinking skills, with the ability to identify new opportunities for audience engagement and development.
  • Excellent knowledge of fine arts, art history, and arts administration with a graduate degree in art history, arts administration, museum studies, or related discipline. Ph.D. preferred. Experience in American art is a plus.
  • Creative in developing exhibitions, programs, and services that engage a broad spectrum of visitors.
  • Superior written and public-speaking communication skills; able to lecture eloquently about the collection and special exhibitions.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic and accomplished fundraiser. Exposure to planned giving and major gifts is a plus.
  • Capability and experience to work with a variety of stakeholders, including donors, members and volunteers, civic leaders, and cultural partners.
  • Consensus builder, able to generate enthusiasm, inspire others.
  • Demonstrated success in training and motivating staff and volunteers. A team builder.
  • Experience in financial planning and bottom-line budget management.
  • Positive personality. Accessible, welcoming, gracious, and sociable. Politically savvy and diplomatic.
  • Resourceful problem-solver with a hands-on, “can do” attitude.
  • Well-connected and conversant in national arts circles.
  • Conversant in the use of technology and digital media.
  • Has desire to live in New England and serve both a multi-ethnic urban community and the suburban/greater Hartford region.

OVERALL JOB RESPONSIBILITY

The Board seeks a creative and forward-thinking Director who, guided by the Mission and Strategic Plan, will be responsible for the strategy and direction of the Museum and its overall artistic, operational, and financial health. Primary responsibilities include articulating an artistic vision, stewarding and developing the permanent collection, and ensuring that the NBMAA continues to provide compelling and innovative exhibitions and educational programming, public events, and activities to attract the broadest possible audience.

He/she is also responsible for the fiscal oversight of the Museum and financial management of a budget of $3 million. He/she will strengthen the Museum’s financial position with a strong emphasis on fundraising and resource development including the cultivation of major donors and development of key relationships with constituents. He/she will serve as the primary spokesperson for the Museum and will network with business, government, civic, cultural, and community leaders locally, statewide, and nationally to enhance and expand its reputation. The Director will oversee a staff of 38, galvanizing and empowering staff and volunteers to successfully realize the Museum’s mission to be one of the nation’s most welcoming, distinguished, dynamic, and educationally ambitious art museums; and bring the NBMAA to its fullest potential.

See full job responsibilities below.

HOW TO APPLY

Nominations and inquiries welcome to: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Apply in confidence: Email cover letter, résumé (Word document preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by March 16, 2015 (end of day) to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman, Museum Search & Reference, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . EOE/AA/ADA. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.

ABOUT THE NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

HISTORY

The NBMAA was founded in 1903. In 2006 a major expansion transformed the original Grace Landers House into a world-class facility. The Museum completed a $27-million capital campaign and opened the 43,000 square-foot Chase Family Building, adding state-of-the-art galleries and an auditorium. Landers House (10,000 square feet) was renovated to hold offices, an Art Studio, the library, and the ArtLab—an interactive, multidisciplinary learning gallery for children and families. Galleries now showcase both permanent and temporary exhibitions on American art. The 2015 expansion will provide 7 more galleries, 3 new art studios, and a tripling of the ArtLab space. A reinstallation of the permanent collection is planned, with 200 more works on view and new installations of Shaker art and New Media.

axon viewArchitect’s drawing of 2015 expansion under construction

PROGRAMS

The Museum offers upwards of 25 special exhibitions per year, ranging from traditional to contemporary. The “Access to Arts” program serves 9,000 in regional schools. Programs for infants, teens, and adults, and regular free community events, summer camps, and family events ensure wide public participation. Activities include lectures, tours, films, performances; openings, and hands-on activities. Members’ and fundraising special events round out the year. The Museum’s 2011 AAM Accreditation report stated, “The Museum’s vibrant educational and public programming amply demonstrates its wholehearted commitment to providing the New Britain community specifically, and the larger region generally, with intellectual access to its many artistic treasures.” For current and upcoming exhibitions, visit:http://www.nbmaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=56.

COLLECTION

The NBMAA collection covers the major artists and movements of American art. Today it numbers about 14,000 paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and photographs, including the Sanford B. D. Low Illustration Collection, which features important works by illustrators such as Norman Rockwell.

Cassatt PicMary Cassatt, A Caress, 1891, Pastel on paper

Among collection highlights are colonial and federal portraits, with examples by Smibert, Trumbull, Copley, Stuart, and the Peales. The Hudson River School features landscapes by Cole, Doughty, Durand, Lane, Heade, Kensett, Bierstadt, and Church. Still life painters range from Raphaelle Peale and Roesen to Harnett, Peto, Haberle, and La Farge. American genre painting is represented by Quidor, Mount, Lilly Martin Spencer, and J.G. Brown. Post-Civil War examples include works by Homer, Eakins, Sargent, Benson, Paxton, and 19 plasters and bronzes by Solon Borglum. American Impressionists include Cassatt, Robinson, Twachtman, Weir, Metcalf, and Hassam, the last represented by eleven oils. Later Impressionist paintings include those by Glackens, Lawson, Frieseke, and Prendergast.

Sixty works by members of The Eight are held, along with early modernists including Hartley, Marin, and O’Keeffe. Regionalist painters include Curry, Wood, and Benton, notably his celebrated five-panel mural. Precisionists include Demuth and Sheeler; and Social realists include Burchfield, Hopper; Shahn, Bearden, Lawrence, and Levine.

Works by the American Abstract Artist group range from Stuart Davis to Milton Avery, while examples of Surrealism include Kay Sage and George Tooker. Abstract Expressionists include Motherwell, Krasner, and Francis; and Pop artists include Warhol, Indiana, Wesselmann, and Dine. Conceptual artists include Christo and Sol LeWitt, while modern sculptors include Manship, Noguchi, Segal, and De Staebler.

DaleChihulypicDale Chihuly’s hand-blown glass chandelier
WinslowHomerpicWinslow Homer, Skirmish in the Wilderness, 1864, oil on canvas

ABOUT THE CITY AND REGION

viewwalnuthill_picNew Britain, looking north from Walnut Hill Park, adjacent to the Museum

New Britain is a central-Connecticut city of 73,000 inhabitants. It is conveniently located 10 miles southwest of Hartford, about 2 hours from New York City and Boston, and an hour from the beaches of Long Island Sound and 1.5 hours from winter ski resorts.

The “Hardware City” was known historically for its metal-manufacturing industry, today represented by Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. The city has an active downtown and main-street area. Architectural features include many attractive 19th-century churches and the downtown public library, where in 1869 Mark Twain gave the first lecture. The city’s 1,200 acres of public parks include the Fredrick Law Olmsted-designed Walnut Hill Park adjacent to the Museum.

New Britain, surrounded by some of the wealthiest towns in CT, is itself one of economic and ethnic diversity, with over 40 languages spoken. The Museum and the Hospital of Central Connecticut have both been important economic engines for the city’s revival. The hospital employs over 3,500 healthcare workers and physicians, and Central Connecticut State University is also growing. A diverse city of ethnic neighborhoods and rich in immigrant heritage, New Britain is known for its large Polish population — by 1930 a quarter of the city was ethnically Polish. Also referred to as “Little Poland,” the city’s Broad Street neighborhood has been home to Polish businesses and families since 1890. In recent years, the Polish community has been credited with revitalizing the area both culturally and economically. Today, the population is 37% Hispanic/Latino, the fastest growing group.

New Britain has 7 theater groups and 14 musical groups, including a symphony, and 5 museums (see: http://www.newbritainarts.org/). The city is known for great ethnic restaurants. Nearby Hartford — the state capital and the insurance capital of the world — offers a full array of art, science and history museums including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Mark Twain House & Museum; and multiple cultural, historical, and educational amenities and sports teams. Visit: http://www.hartford.com/. For CT, see:http://www.ctvisit.com/.

FULL JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

Leadership

  • Work with the Board and staff to refine and articulate the Museum’s strategic direction for the future, and formulate an ambitious but achievable plan for its execution.
  • Maintain and enhance the values, vision, and mission of the Museum.
  • Foster a strong working relationship with the Board and its leadership; ensure that the Board is provided with timely and clear information.
    • Work with the Board and its leadership to ensure that existing and future Board members are committed, supportive, and diverse.
  • Know whom the organization is serving — its key players, constituents, and base of support.
  • Capitalize on the potential of the 2015 opening of the new addition. In particular, take the lead in planning, marketing, and promoting special events and exhibitions associated with the opening, building on the momentum of the occasion in order to broaden support.

Artistic Vision — Direction and Implementation

  • With the Board, determine the best model going forward for curatorial oversight of collections and exhibitions; utilizing either a Director/Curator model as at present or two separate positions (Director and Curator) with the allocation of appropriate resources.
  • Irrespective of the model, work with the Board, staff, and when appropriate, guest curators, to plan and execute a robust lineup of exhibitions, education programs, and events that attract broad and diverse participation.
    • Develop and expand programming and exhibition efforts to enhance the Museum’s profile as an integral part of the local, regional, and state community.
    • Prioritize an audience-centered interactive approach to programing and community engagement.
  • Chart the artistic/curatorial direction for the display and interpretation of the permanent collection and special exhibitions.
  • Work with the Board, Acquisition & Loan Committee, and staff to execute and modify as needed the Museum’ strategic Collections Plan. Make acquisitions and ensure collections stewardship.
  • Engage other arts organizations in the Greater Hartford area in collaborative programming where mutually beneficial.

Development

  • Complete the Art & Education Expansion Capital and Endowment Campaign to the extent not achieved.
  • Play a leadership role in fundraising and enthusiastically approach resource building with creativity, including identifying and developing alternative revenue streams.
  • Work to increase and diversify financial support from individual donors, foundations, corporations, and government funders.
    • Build on the NBMAA’s past success in engaging and involving donors through exceptional relationship-building and cultivation skills.
    • Proactively cultivate high-potential donors.
    • Broaden the donor base by working closely with the Board to solicit increased participation beyond the organization’s existing support base.
  • Seek out and cultivate collectors in the NBMAA’s collections areas and in other areas that make strategic sense.
  • Initiate (or delegate to staff, as appropriate) private tours, visits to dealers and collectors, and domestic and international trips that edify and cultivate members and donors.
ChaseFB_Pic 3Chase Family Building

Communications and Audience Development

  • Raise the Museum’s visibility through planning and implementing public-relations, marketing, and communications initiatives.Develop strategies to strengthen the Museum’s identity and brand regionally, nationally, and as appropriate, internationally.
  • Promote the Museum and its programs to build loyal commitment and develop key partnerships in support of its mission.
  • Foster involvement and participation of the whole community in the Museum and broaden the reach of the Museum into the different sectors of the community.
  • Build awareness and support among diverse audiences – fostering relationships to increase membership and the donor base while maximizing marketing impact.

Establish himself/herself as an arts and cultural leader in the region. Build and maintain partnerships and collaborations with regional and statewide cultural and civic institutions as well as with City and State officials such as legislators and the Mayor and Governor.

Operations and Administration

  • Ensure that the collections and facilities are cared for and developed in a way that is consistent with the highest professional standards.
  • Lead the alignment of financial resources and operational priorities based on a review of the Strategic Plan.
  • Oversee the Museum in a fiscally responsible manner through effective planning, budgeting, and forecasting.
    • Work closely with the Director of Finance to prepare annual budgets for Finance Committee and Board approval and to ensure that appropriate financial controls are in place.
  • Attract and retain talented, innovative, and competent staff while building a positive and collaborative organizational culture, ensuring administrative policies and procedures are timely and up-to-date.
    • Oversee staff performance and conduct annual performance reviews.
  • Keep the Board fully informed on all initiatives and serve as the intermediary between the Board and staff.

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