About Harvard Art Museums
Ever since their founding, the Harvard Art Museums—the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum—have been dedicated to advancing and supporting learning at Harvard University, in the local community, and around the world. The museums have played a leading role in the development of art history, conservation, and conservation science, and in the evolution of the art museum as an institution.
With collections that span millennia, media, and cultures, the museums are an extraordinary resource for Harvard University. As an academic art institution, the Harvard Art Museums are dedicated to creating transformative teaching and learning experiences for students, faculty, and the public. The museums’ comprehensive collections are put to work as vital teaching instruments that enhance critical thinking through education and research. The Harvard Art Museums were reaccredited in 2023, which involved a strategic planning process and updating policy documents, including a code of ethics and collections policy, and embarking on extensive conversations on equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the museums.
Since re-opening a magnificent new facility in 2014 after a multi-year renovation and expansion project, the Harvard Art Museums have been steadily realizing their full potential as a 21st-century laboratory for the arts within Harvard University. The museums announced a new free admission policy in the summer of 2023, made possible by a generous contribution from the Estate of David Rockefeller and support from the Office of the President at Harvard University. Since then, visitorship at the museums has dramatically increased, with new audiences drawn to the museums for the first time. The museums are on pace to triple their annual attendance numbers from last year.
For more information on Harvard Art Museums, please visit https://harvardartmuseums.org/.
The next Director will have the opportunity to lead the museums into its next chapter by welcoming and energizing an expanded audience base and continuing to integrate the museums into the intellectual life of the university and surrounding community.
As the chief executive of the Harvard Art Museums, the Director will maintain the museums’ position as a leader in the field and promote and support education and scholarship of the highest caliber in the visual arts at Harvard University. The Director serves as the principal ambassador for the museums to members of the campus community, alumni and major supporters, as well as the larger public.
- Engage with colleagues across the Harvard community to initiate collaborations and build partnerships that enhance the museums’ ability to serve as a dynamic teaching, learning, and research resource for Harvard students, faculty, and a broad public audience.
- Lead senior leadership direct reports, ensure they manage their staff effectively, communicating the vision clearly and providing guidance, mentorship, and support to create and sustain a collaborative and engaged community.
- Maintain the fiscal health of the museums, actively promoting efforts in all areas to enhance fundraising, balance the budget, and responsibly manage operating costs.
- Raise funds to ensure present and future financial stability of the museums, and to advance and sustain projects and programming that leverage the museums’ teaching and public mission. Specifically cultivate and steward benefactors and prospective donors, foundations, and other organizations that provide support to the museums.
- Principal decision maker for all aspects of care, management, and operations of the museums, developing and implementing sound policies and procedures for the care and use of the permanent collection according to the highest professional standards, inclusive of preservation and conservation, documentation, exhibition, accessibility, interpretation, and improvement of the collection.
- Oversee the exhibitions program, acquisitions of works of art, diverse educational outreach activities, care of collections, research and conservation, publications, and the organization of special programs and events.
- Foster a cooperative atmosphere with faculty, students, museums staff, other Harvard colleagues, scholars, museum professionals, Director’s Advisory Council members, Curatorial Committee members, and other interested friends and benefactors.
- Represent the museums locally, nationally, and internationally, initiating and fostering fruitful partnerships with other cultural and educational institutions, regionally and beyond.
- Formulate long-range plans in consultation with University leaders, including those involving acquisitions policy, program design, and maintenance of the physical plant.
Advanced degree in art, art history, or a field related to the museums’ collections and a minimum of seven years of senior leadership expertise in an art museum setting.
The Director of the Harvard Art Museums should have a doctoral degree in art, art history, or a field related to the museums’ collections or a commensurate record of significant professional experience. Preference will be given to candidates with significant professional, academic, and/or scholarly achievements, including accomplishments in the field of art history, museum education, arts leadership, or a related field.
The successful candidate will be a visionary, strategic, and energetic leader who is collaborative, diplomatic, and inspires confidence. Additionally, top candidates will possess the following professional expertise, leadership competencies, and personal qualities:
Credibility and Expertise: The Director will have recognized distinction in the field and professional standing to be considered a peer of the academic community at Harvard in order to establish productive relationships with faculty, university leaders, and museums staff, as well as with key constituencies in the community and colleagues in the field. They will demonstrate a passion for and deep commitment to campus-based art museums, with a sophisticated understanding of research and scholarship, and an appreciation for how university museums are distinct in how they serve their audiences. This individual must be someone who values the Harvard Art Museums’ educational mission and the integration into the Harvard University curriculum and community.
The Director must also hold an appreciation for the constructed nature of art/art making, be sympathetic to contemporary art, and with a global perspective. Simultaneously, they should cultivate collaborative opportunities within the broader art and art museum world. The successful candidate will possess recognized distinction in the field, professional standing with peer institutions, and the stature to represent Harvard and the Harvard Art Museums to all.
The Director will help set the vision for rigorous, compelling exhibitions, educational programs, and publications that expand scholarly inquiry and audience engagement. They will have a solid grasp and keen awareness of national and international trends and best practices in art museums and within the broader art world, as well as an understanding of ethical stewardship and other evolving issues in 21st century art institutions.
Strategic and Forward-Looking Leader: The Director will be a dynamic and outward-facing leader motivated by the opportunity to engage audiences in a deepened, intentional relationship with visual culture. They will bring an entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit, ability to partner with colleagues at the University, in the local community, and with other leaders in the art and museum world. This individual will serve as a visible and effective advocate for the critical role that the visual arts play in the educational and public mission of Harvard University.
This individual will be a proven strategic thinker with the foresight and capacity to balance complex and discrete priorities and needs. This leader should be comfortable operating within and energized by an environment that values academic engagement and intellectual vitality. Capable of providing stability when faced with important and quickly-changing circumstances, the Director will be a consultative thought leader and bring an infectious enthusiasm combined with a calm, self-possessed manner; a person who leads by example.
The Director will bring interest and/or experience in exploring the intersections of technology, digital and other new art forms, and the museums. Further, the Director will have the agility to engage the Cambridge/Boston community in responsive dialogue around art’s place in the issues of our time.
Skilled and Inspirational Manager: The Director will be an inclusive, decisive, results-driven leader with a collegial, team-oriented working style, open and nimble in adjusting to emerging needs and shifting priorities. They will possess superb management skills to lead a staff of over 205 museum professionals, providing them the support and means to accomplish work of the highest quality. This leader will have deep respect for team members’ areas of expertise, supporting ownership of their respective functional areas and recognizing individual capacities and strengths. They will provide clear direction to team members on prioritizing goals, with sensitivity in managing the team’s capacity appropriately, setting boundaries when required to allow the team to be highly focused and impactful in how they work.
This individual will have experience building and sustaining complex teams, empowering staff, and fostering an institution-based outlook; must be accessible, available, and responsive. The Director will exercise sound judgment and strong decision-making, with persistence to focus on “the big picture,” looking at both the content and business sides of issues to deliver the highest impact. They will be a motivator, able to inspire a shared vision, quality performance, and strong morale, motivating and cultivating staff through active and effective communications, feedback, and delegation, while actively promoting teamwork and collaboration.
External Relations and Relationship Building: The Director will embrace and thrive within the University’s consensus-driven organizational culture, with the persistence and patience to navigate the complex structure of relationships within the institution. The Director will have a high comfort level engaging with diverse constituencies and colleagues, including students, faculty, administrators, major donors, and members of the Harvard community.
The Director will also have a compelling public and campus presence and be skilled at developing, building, and sustaining relationships with leaders of arts and cultural organizations, and members of the Cambridge/Boston community. They will have the capacity to serve as an active and sensitive listener, and to thrive as the Harvard Art Museums’ foremost champion and advocate, persuading others to support and advance the HAM’s mission. Will effectively cultivate a philanthropic culture among the HAM team, spearheading efforts to identify and initiate engagement with potential donors while actively stewarding existing patrons.
With personal and professional integrity of the highest degree and holding public interest and public trust in the greatest regard, the Director will demonstrate a high level of ease operating in the public arena which includes valuing outward engagement, being at ease with people, and accepting the public demands made upon a leader with visibility in the community. The Director will have a balance of confidence and humility and a high level of emotional intelligence.
Operational Abilities: The Director will have a record of successful oversight and management of budgets and understanding of museum best practices in terms of functions and operations. They will promote a culture of excellence and high-quality execution at all levels within the institution, providing outstanding stewardship for the advancement of the Harvard Art Museums. Experienced with budget, financial, and personnel management, this individual will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions, strategic plans and initiatives, and programs on the organization, to understand capacity, and to make sound recommendations accordingly.
Compensation & Benefits
Harvard offers a comprehensive benefit, retirement, paid time off package and terrific perquisites offered to employees. We anticipate that the compensation for this position to be in the low to mid $400,000 range. The exact salary that will be offered to the Director will be determined based on a consideration of the successful candidate’s skills and experience, and aligned with Harvard University’s compensation policies.
We are an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.
Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Harvard University views equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. We strive to create a community that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent to unify excellence and diversity while fully embracing individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs, and values.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement, with Naree W.S. Viner and Stephen Milbauer as the search contacts. To express interest in this role please submit your letter of interest and CV here or email Naree and Stephen directly at email@example.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/koya-partners.