About the New Museum of Contemporary Art
The New Museum is a leading destination for global contemporary art and an incubator for new ideas, as well as an architectural landmark on New York’s lower east side. Founded by Marcia Tucker in 1977, it was the first museum devoted to contemporary art established in New York City since the Second World War. Somewhere between a traditional museum and an alternative space at that time, the New Museum was founded with a staff of three and an ambitious mission: to be a catalyst for a broad dialogue between artists and the public as “an exhibition, information, and documentation center for contemporary art” The Museum presented the work of living artists who did not yet have wide public exposure or critical acceptance with a broader public.
Throughout the 1980s, the exhibition program encompassed monographic exhibitions of emerging artists and group shows organized around important social and political issues. Examples of the first type included early solo presentations by Joan Jonas (1984), Martin Puryear (1984), Leon Golub (1984), Linda Montano (1984), Allen Ruppersberg (1985), Kim Jones (1986), Hans Haacke (1987), Bruce Nauman (1987), Christian Boltanski (1988), Ana Mendieta (1988), Nancy Spero (1989), and Mary Kelly (1990), while thematic exhibitions “Art and Ideology” (1984), “Difference: On Representation and Sexuality” (1984), and “Damaged Goods: Desire and the Economy of the Object” (1986) established the Museum’s reputation as a leader in postmodernist and critical theory. This was supported by an expanded publication program, particularly the series Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art. The first volume in this series Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984) is an interdisciplinary collection of texts on contemporary art criticism, which has become a touchstone of postmodernist scholarship.
Beginning in the 90s, the exhibition program began to focus increasingly on significant international artists who had not yet received attention in the US, including Mona Hatoum (1998), Doris Salcedo (1998), Xu Bing (1998), Cildo Meireles (2000), William Kentridge (2001), Marlene Dumas (2002), and Hélio Oiticica (2002). The program also continued to include influential older artists who were not yet widely recognized, such as Carolee Schneemann (1996), Martha Rosler (2000), Paul McCarthy (2001), and Carroll Dunham (2003). The Museum’s mission to show only living artists was also officially amended so that work by recently deceased artists like David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong—particularly in the wake of the AIDS crisis—could be displayed and memorialized.
By 1999, when Lisa Phillips was appointed the Museum’s second Director, the Museum’s program had far outstripped the limited gallery spaces of 583 Broadway, and in 2002, the New Museum announced plans to construct a new building designed to accommodate a much more dynamic scale of public events, exhibitions, and educational activities. After an international competition, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA Ltd. were selected to design the New Museum’s first dedicated building to be built on a former parking lot on the Bowery, initiating a new era for the Museum and the Bowery neighborhood.
On December 1, 2007, the New Museum re-opened at 235 Bowery with facilities including a theater, five floors of gallery spaces, and a distinctive Sky Room with panoramic views of lower Manhattan. The inaugural exhibition, “Unmonumental,” an international group show in four parts examined the mediums of sculpture and collage in contemporary art practice.
Today, the New Museum serves diverse and expanding audiences, including artists, students, and local and tourist audiences. The Museum continues to provide a platform for underrecognized artists, giving artists their crucial first benchmark museum exhibitions. With two long serving women Directors and diverse leadership, the Museum has presented over the past 15 years an exceptionally strong series of exhibitions by women and artists of color, offering a truly global program of critically acclaimed exhibitions by Carsten Hoeller, Kapwani Kiwanga, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sarah Lucas, Marta Minujin, Chris Ofili, Wong Ping, Faith Ringgold, Pipilotti Rist, Rosemarie Trockel, Kaari Upson, Nari Ward, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and many others. The Museum has launched its Triennial in 2009, the first international recurring invitational exhibition in New York City and has established a series of timely group shows that have addressed important issues in contemporary art and culture, including hotly debated shows such as “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America”, “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon”, “The Keeper”, and “Here and Elsewhere: Contemporary Art from the Arab World”. The Museum has also embraced collaboration, with projects like The Museum as Hub, Ideas City, its Rhizome affiliation, and NEW INC the first Museum incubator for creatives working at the intersection of art, design, and technology.
The Museum is currently constructing a second building with OMA Rem Koolhaas/Shohei Shigematsu, once again doubling the size of the facility and creating a campus, marking another transformative moment in the institution’s history. This expansion which will open in two years, will offer the Department opportunities for expanded programming, audience development, and increased staffing.
For more information about the New Museum, please visit its website.
The Opportunity and Key Responsibilities
The Director of Education and Public Engagement is a leadership position that develops, implements, and oversees the full range of the Museum’s distinctive and award-winning education and interpretive programs, including programs in the Museum’s 180 seat theater, 120-person capacity Skyroom, and Fifth Floor classroom.
The Museum values the voices of diverse artists, critical thinkers, and community constituents. The Director of Education is central to the creation and oversight of programs that bring together these voices for discussion and debate through public conversations, workshops, and symposia.
The Museum is known for its innovative program for high school students (Youth Spectrum Arts), creative artist residencies, robust gallery teaching and teaching fellowship program, collaborative community partnerships, influential public programs, educator professional development, and critical scholarship.
The New Museum seeks a collaborative, experienced, and team-oriented leader to serve as the Director of Education & Public Engagement. This senior staff member will be responsible for developing and implementing a compelling vision for the Museum’s Education department, in alignment with the Museum’s mission and values, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals.
The Director of Education & Public Engagement role is an exciting opportunity for a visionary, collaborative, and empathetic leader to strengthen and build an innovative, service-oriented 21st century education department focused on audience/visitor and community engagement, public programs, and PreK-12 students, colleges and universities, teachers, and families.
Reporting both to the Artistic Director and the Director of the Museum, the Director of Education and Public Engagement is head of the Department and oversees the staff and budget of the Education Department. The Director attends bi-monthly Department Head meetings and presents at select Board Meetings. The Director is also involved in strategic planning for the Museum together with the rest of the senior staff.
The Director of Education and Public Engagement will supervise a staff of ~4 and oversee the department’s annual budget (currently ~$1M).
The Director of Education & Public Engagement is responsible for the following:
- Establish long-range vision, general operating plans, and annual goals, objectives, and priorities for the Education Department.
- Develop and oversee exhibition-related programming in the Museum that reflect and enhance exhibition themes for optimized visitor experience and engagement.
- Oversee and develop all education initiatives including school and youth programs, family programs, community outreach and group tours, and expand the number and diversity of school and community partnerships the museum engages with on a regular basis.
- Conceive public program offerings around exhibitions, expanding the Museum’s audience. Develop symposia and publications to advance scholarship in the field and tackle urgent issues and hot button topics
- Cultivate and convene a network of specialists in the field and related fields through regular seminars, lecture series, and symposia.
- Supervise departmental staff and activities, manage budgets and work closely with Development Department on expanding support for the department and its programs and with External Affairs on communicating and promoting programs.
- Oversee the summer social impact artist in residence each year.
The ideal candidate will possess the following professional and personal attributes, skills, and characteristics:
A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in art history, education, or related discipline is preferred; deep professional and leadership experience in a comparable setting will also be seriously considered.
Creativity & Innovation in Programming
The Director of Education and Public Engagement will bring tested management, organizational, and administrative experience and demonstrate at least seven years of public-facing educational or programmatic leadership experience with three to five years in a senior role with a strong track record of providing creative leadership to design and deliver impactful educational, public programming, and community building experiences to fulfill and amplify the Museum’s mission. This leader is strategic and collaborative, self-confident; unflappable; pragmatic, grounded, decisive, and clear. Preferred candidates will have a strong knowledge of contemporary art, theories, methods of arts education, and current and emerging educational trends. They will possess deep knowledge of and passion for art, commitment to education and lifelong learning, intellectual inquiry, a dedication to visitor and community engagement, and a strong desire to expand the Museum’s potential in the local communities. This leader has a deep commitment to making art accessible through innovative and audience-centered strategies, on-site and online, and is digitally adept and is attuned to ways technology, education, and communications mutually support and improve each other’s objectives and the Museum overall. The Director of Education and Public Engagement is a systems thinker and is able to look across department, Museum, and external environment to understand root causes of issues and opportunities for improved service and partnership; open to and seeks change and innovation. They must possess a commitment to working with youth and families and experience working with diverse audiences and cultures in authentic and meaningful ways.
Building Relationships & Using Influence
The Director of Education and Public Engagement builds, leads, and manages high-performing teams with empathy and self-awareness; high emotional intelligence and is able to reflect on own improvement and model that commitment to the team. They hold a high standard of excellence and accountability, and inclusivity, facilitating their ability to work collaboratively and deliver results as a team. This individual will foster trust and collaboration among team members and will possess the ability to manage through change with flexibility, poise, and a sense of humor. The Director of Education and Public Engagement is an accomplished manager effective with budgets, staffing, deadlines, deliverables, and competing agendas; a strong ability to organize, set priorities, create an action plan, delegate, and coordinate. This leader establishes rapport and cultivates relationships across all levels of the organization, and empowers a diverse staff and external constituents to deliver results; this includes staff, Trustees, educators, artists, volunteers, donors, local government and public-school officials, and community leaders. It is imperative that they foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership across the organization. They will understand the need to learn the history and culture of the Museum and appreciate its complexities before making recommendations.
The Director of Education and Public Engagement is a gifted leader who will serve as an ambassador for the Museum in the education, public programming, and community building domains and beyond. A charismatic spokesperson, this leader offers superlative communication, interpersonal, and negotiation skills grounded in excellent judgment; a diplomatic ambassador who can listen, advocate, hold a position, engage diverse partners, and drive complicated projects to closure. They are a passionate, articulate, and effective advocate for the Museum to a wide range of constituents. This individual believes deeply in building and nurturing a robust network of relationships to foster collaboration and advance the Museum’s mission. The Director of Education and Public Engagement is entrepreneurial and creative when thinking about how to best cultivate new groups of stakeholders in the mission of the Museum and create a welcoming environment for all visitors and program participants.
Passion for and Commitment to the Mission
The Director of Education and Public Engagement of the New Museum will be an ambitious, inventive, and collaborative leader who is inspired by the mission of the Museum and can inspire others as well. Fully embracing the mission of the Museum, the relationship with the local and broader communities, and the commitment to its various constituents, they will have a love of learning, a deep interest in New York City and its rich history, and the desire to proactively address issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion with regards to the content and staffing of programming, the visitor experience, and community engagement. Working closely with the senior leadership, the Director of Education and Public Engagement will serve as a bridge between the internal staff and external partners and will fully embody the values of the Museum. Finally, the ideal candidate is an individual of integrity, ethics, and values, who can be trusted without reservation.
Compensation and Benefits
The target range for this role is $120,000 – $140,000, commensurate with experience. The New Museum offers a competitive benefits package including health, dental, life, disability insurance, paid time off, and 403(b) plan.
Stephen Milbauer of Koya Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email Stephen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
The New Museum is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.
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 www.koyapartners.com.