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Administration, Arts and Culture, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Program Leadership

Senior Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs

  • The Walters Art Museum
  • Baltimore, MD

This position has been filled.

About The Walters Art Museum (website)

The Walters Art Museum is among America’s most distinctive museums, forging connections between people and art from cultures around the world and spanning seven millennia. Located in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, the Walters is free for all. The Museum’s campus includes five historic buildings.

In December 2020, the Museum finalized a set of multiyear diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) goals that directly inform the museum’s Strategic Plan and are grounded in the following commitments: expand the histories the museum examines and share; partner with our communities; and center equity, inclusion, and accountability in our culture and decision-making. The Walters and its staff serve Baltimore and Maryland by embracing the role of educators and storytellers, using the collection to support learning, dialogue, and community engagement. The Museum is committed to its mission for the benefit of all, offering essential programs that help people to connect art to their lives. The Walters’ Visitor Promise aligns staff and volunteers across the museum to preserve and share the works in our care for future generations, partner with communities, and create welcoming, accessible experiences for visitors.

The Collection (website)

The Walters Art Museum’s collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5,000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses more than 36,000 objects. This extraordinary collection is rich in works that reveal the heights of human creativity and artistry.

Walking through the museum’s historic buildings, visitors encounter a stunning panorama of thousands of years of art, from romantic 19th-century images of French gardens to mesmerizing Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient Roman sarcophagi, and serene images of the Buddha.

The Walters’ collection sparks wonder and surprise. And in presenting it, we uncover the stories behind the objects, share those histories through multiple viewpoints, and illuminate the connections with our lives today.

The Opportunity, Main Focus, and Key Responsibilities

For the Walters Art Museum’s Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs, a new position, it is an opportune time to join a vibrant, healthy organization that is weathering the pandemic. This individual must be philosophically, conceptually, and tactically aligned with the vision for the Museum as a place to bring art and people together for enjoyment, discovery, and learning where people of every background can be touched by art, to engage and strengthen our community, and to be a force for transformation in the Baltimore region and beyond by collecting, preserving, and interpreting art.

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will partner with the Deputy Director and other members of the Leadership Team (comprising staff at and above the Director level) to create an integrated and aligned implementation of the vision articulated in the Strategic Plan (ratified by the Board in 2015). This Leadership Team is charged with management and oversight of the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the Museum’s programs, demonstrating its deep commitment to emphasizing the depth, breadth, and quality of its collections in order to engage local, regional, and national communities in new ways.

The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will uphold the Museum’s commitments to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in all programming, exhibition, and staffing decisions as outlined in the strategic vision. They will contribute to a values-based culture by demonstrating and requiring adherence to the highest ethical standards.

The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will bring to the Walters a demonstrated passion for the visual arts and dedication to making art collections more accessible and meaningful to the broadest audiences possible. They will assist the Executive Director in establishing and implementing the direction of the Museum’s artistic program, which comprises all aspects of the program including but not limited to reinstallations, temporary exhibitions, conservation, digital initiatives, and publications both digital and print.

As the Walters’ senior staff member responsible for the collection and overarching artistic program, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will work closely with the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and all other Leadership Team members to spearhead the development of a rolling, comprehensive three-to-five-year programmatic calendar for the Museum’s collections installations and temporary exhibitions that showcase the breadth of the collection and engage multiple constituencies. Developed in collaboration with this leader’s peers—and in particular the directors of Visitor Experience, Learning & Community Engagement, and Marketing & Communications—this plan should incorporate a rich offering of collections-based permanent and temporary exhibitions/installations, temporary loan shows of both historic art and, as appropriately defined by the institutional strategic vision, work by living artists. It should reflect a systematic rethinking of how the Walters collection and its buildings can connect with new ways of thinking about the various histories of art, geographies, and people. This artistic program must be rooted in the Walters’ unique collections and its own multi-faceted histories, incorporating visitor and community voices in the interpretation and presentation of the collection and exhibitions, and provide opportunities for 21st-century museum visitors, audiences and diverse communities to see themselves represented. In short, it must reflect alignment with the programmatic vision for and mission of the Museum.

In partnership with the Executive Director, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will lead and oversee the institutional units encompassing curatorial, collections, conservation & technical research, publications, and digital production of the Walters Art Museum. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will develop an approach in alignment with the museum’s strategic direction for sustaining and caring for the collections, conceiving and organizing permanent collections installations and temporary exhibitions as well as embracing the power of technology to extend the museum’s reach far beyond its physical walls. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will ensure that the Walters teams within the individual’s areas of responsibility work cohesively and collaboratively with each other and cross-departmentally. They will serve as a cultural change agent and conduit for translating the Museum’s overall vision into action. This individual will have primary day-to-day responsibility for supervising the work of their direct reports. As a member of the Walters’ Leadership Team, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will foster open communications.

Working closely with the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and Senior Director of Building Operations, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will assist in the oversight of all building projects that impact collections and program areas. Additionally, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will work collaboratively with the Executive Director, Deputy Director and the Senior Director of Development in the stewardship and cultivation of Board members, donors, and other stakeholders and participate in the general fundraising activities to benefit the acquisitions, conservation, exhibitions, publications and digital initiatives, and, as asked and where relevant, other major initiatives. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will represent the Museum in professional, academic, and social forums with local/regional, national, and international colleagues by presenting and promoting exhibition and research programs of the highest quality. They will also represent the Walters as an active member within the local Baltimore artistic community, as part of the stewardship of and inclusion of work by living artists and being responsive and relevant to local voices. This individual will participate in regular Board meetings as well as meetings of the standing committees of the Board; they will be the staff liaison for the Collections Committee and will partner, as appropriate, with the other Leadership Team members in the staffing of or preparation for Board Committees.

Other areas of responsibility include the following:

Strategy and Planning

  • In coordination with the Executive Director and Leadership Team members, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will oversee the work of the Curators (including the Librarian/Archivist), Director of Conservation, Collections and Technical Research, and Director of Publication and Digital Production to:
    • Set institutional unit priorities that align with the Museum’s overall mission and resources and align the departmental structure to maximize productivity and efficiency
    • Oversee and consult in the care, installation, and interpretation of the collections
    • Oversee and assist in the development of a program of thoughtful and compelling permanent collection displays, as well as temporary exhibitions, that engage visitors in exciting and diverse ways
    • Oversee and manage the shaping of the collections, including acquisitions and deaccessions
    • Oversee the coordination of conservation study, technical examination, and scientific innovation with programmatic priorities
    • Develop a strategy for and oversee the content of the Museum publications, including scholarly catalogues and digital publications
    • Oversee the digital production of all photography and videography, and leverage technology to extend the reach of programs, engage in-gallery visitors in new ways, and sustain and grow virtual audiences
    • Oversee the evaluation of exhibition proposals and loan requests from other organizations
    • Encourage and foster formal and informal interactions with local, regional, national and international peer institutions in regard to collaborative projects, including but not limited to exhibitions, loans, programs, and other partnerships

Collections Care and Management

  • Advocate for internal initiatives that modernize, streamline, and integrate collection content, aligned with industry standards and using existing and new processes, to better communicate and connect with defined constituents and the general public, onsite and via the web
  • Provide oversight of the care and preservation of the art collections and buildings by ensuring the best practices for storage, installation, handling, documentation, and treatment are maintained
  • Leverage the Museum’s strong scientific and technical research to expand our knowledge and understanding of the collection
  • Assess curatorial functions, priorities, and processes to ensure efficiencies, excellence, and alignment with museum best practices and AAM accreditation standards

Team Management

  • Demonstrate effective team management and team development that promotes inclusivity, collaboration, and effective relationship building across the institution
  • Manage successfully through best practices in team leadership a diverse and robust staff of curators, conservators, and specialists in collections management, exhibition management, publications, imaging, and digital projects
    • Lead and inspire the Collections & Curatorial Affairs staff through effective coordination and delivery of tasks
    • Provide clear guidance and communication to staff on current and future deliverables
    • Create and promote a culture of transparent communication within the units and effective collaboration across all institutional units
    • Coach and develop staff with the goal of continuous improvement of the individual and the team
    • Provide effective feedback to staff throughout the year and address performance issues of staff in a timely manner, and conduct annual performance reviews of direct reports

Cross-Institutional Leadership

  • Collaborate with staff across the organization regarding exhibition, collection-management, presentation, interpretation, publications, digital initiatives, and archive strategies consistent with key initiatives, goals, and objectives of the Museum
  • Lead the close collaboration of the Collections & Curatorial Affairs units with the Deputy Director and the Directors in the:
    • multiyear cross-departmental, integrated budgeting processes
    • planning and implementation of the refurbishment and renovation of the Walters’ five historic buildings with particular attention to the needs determined as immediate by the Facilities Condition Audit and that will drive the planning and implementation of a multi-year, overarching campus plan
  • Lead the close collaboration of the Collections & Curatorial Affairs units with the Directors responsible for Learning & Community Engagement, Visitor Experience, and Development, and Marketing & Communications:
    • in the development of meaningful and relevant visitor-centered public programs, including those for schools, families, and adults, tied to the programmatic schedule of exhibitions and displays
    • in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for new audiences to engage with the Walters collections, resources, and programs in order to drive engagement, affiliation, and long-term support of the Museum
    • in the development and solicitation of grants and sponsorships to support the Museum’s collection/exhibition, conservation, and program priorities
    • in partnership with the Marketing & Communications department, develop communications for press pitches and queries surrounding timely topics in the art world and involving the Walter’s collection

External Communications/Relationships

  • Keep Trustees and related committees informed on plans related to the artistic program (including but not limited to reinstallations, temporary exhibitions, conservation, digital initiatives, and publications). Participate in Board meetings and standing committees of the Board; serve as the staff liaison for the Collections Committee, which is a body of both members of the Board of Trustees and external subject matter experts charged with overseeing the development of the Museum’s collections
  • Represent the Museum in professional, academic, and social forums with local/regional, national, and international colleagues by presenting and promoting exhibition and research programs
  • Represent the Walters as an active member within the local Baltimore artistic community, as part of the stewardship of and inclusion of work by living artists and being responsive and relevant to local voices
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

Strategic Leadership and Management Acumen

Minimum seven years of management experience in an art museum, art-related organization, or institution of higher learning. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs is skilled at building and leading high-performing, diverse teams with the highest degree of professionalism and guiding team members’ growth and development. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs has the ability to set clear priorities, delegate and guide investment in people and systems. The ideal candidate will provide a productive work environment that matches the skill set and abilities of staff members as well as professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will foster a culture of collaboration, mutual respect and teamwork within the Collections & Curatorial Affairs departments and across other departments. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will encourage and celebrate the talents of the team while also holding each team member accountable to mutually agreed-upon goals. Additionally, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will approach the Collections & Curatorial Affairs department’s operations and finances with focus and balance and will make decisions based on a clear understanding of the strategic objectives of the Museum.

Collections & Curatorial Affairs Leadership

The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will have a sophisticated understanding of and passion for art and art history, the materials, techniques and condition of art objects, along with a robust record of exhibitions, digital innovation, and scholarly publications. This individual will bring demonstrated experience with project management related to the care, conservation, display and interpretation of objects in a museum setting. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will have demonstrable success conceptualizing, designing and implementing compelling and visitor-centered curatorial and collection strategies and will be adept at working with the staff to bring them to life; they will experience with and empathy for the process of curating exhibitions and collaborative projects spanning multiple venues desired. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will be comfortable in the broader arts and cultural community to advance the mission of the Walters Art Museum locally, nationally and internationally. They will have a familiarity or working knowledge of best practices in collections management and a commitment to legal, professional, and ethical considerations about all acquisitions. This individual will also have a familiarity with cultural patrimony laws and Nazi-era provenance issues, and a deep commitment to adhering to all legal, professional, and ethical guidelines in these areas. They will possess a high-level of cross-cultural competency and embrace the value found in our differences in all forms. This leader will have excellent presentation, verbal and written communication skills.

Building Relationships and Using Influence

The successful candidate must build rapport and cultivate relationships across all levels of the Museum. As a leader that exudes presence, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs must be highly articulate and a strong communicator. This individual will foster trust and collaboration among team members and will possess the ability to manage through change with flexibility and poise. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will be a strong leader, communicator, and collaborator who is skilled at listening to and learning from leadership, staff and volunteers. This leader will embrace the culture of the Museum, while always having an eye on opportunities to foster best-in-class practices in a productive manner with colleagues. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will naturally inspire fellow leaders, staff and volunteers to develop deeper relationships, leading the charge by example. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will be a proactive communicator at all times.

Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing the mission of the Walters, the relationship with the Baltimore community and the commitment to its various constituents, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs is someone who has an anchor in history and understands how historic collections intersect with our contemporary world and will be passionate about working in partnership with the staff, donors and other partners to advance the mission of the Museum. The ideal candidate will possess and promote a deep appreciation for the collections, buildings, history, research and scholarship and will demonstrate a commitment to public engagement and the visitor experience. Embracing the Walters’ culture while continually innovating alongside the Leadership Team, Trustees, staff and volunteers, the Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will help expand the Museum’s brand and reach. The Senior Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs will have a strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, a sense of humor and evidence of a commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth. Additionally, this leader will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Education

Advanced degree in art history, fine arts, museum administration, or commensurate experience preferred.

Compensation and Benefits

The target salary for this role is $140,000. The Walters Art Museum offers healthcare benefits, flexible spending accounts, disability insurance, a 457B retirement plan with match, 26 days PTO a year plus 11 observed holidays.

Contact

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 smilbauer@koyapartners.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference – we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve. Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences.

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.

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