The Current Situation and Opportunity
After celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021, The Phillips Collection is seeking an energetic and innovative leader to build on its successes and plot the course of the museum’s next 100 years. As the country’s oldest museum of modern and contemporary art, Duncan Phillips’s pioneering idea to create a museum in the nation’s capital where one could encounter the art of the past and the present on equal terms has evolved and thrived. The next Vradenburg Director and CEO will honor its historic roots while demonstrating forward-thinking direction and focus as a 21st century organization.
Under the leadership of Vradenburg Director & CEO Dorothy Kosinski since 2008, the Phillips has enlarged and diversified its world-renowned permanent collection, expanded the number of exhibitions both here and abroad, grown its endowment to $100 million, and increased its education and outreach programs. During the pandemic, the museum pivoted quickly to enhance its virtual offerings, including Phillips Music, to an ever-widening audience. In the spirit of founder Duncan Phillips, exhibitions have bridged contemporary artists (including those based in DC) and their modern predecessors, and the museum has diversified its collection and exhibitions to include more works by women and people of color. To expand its reach in the DC community, the museum opened a satellite campus in Southeast DC at the Town Hall Education and Recreation Campus (THEARC) in 2018.
The museum has served as a model in the cultural world in its commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) in its exhibitions, collecting, and programs. This commitment was further exemplified with the establishment of the endowed position of the Horning Chair for Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion in 2018 (making The Phillips one of the first museums to have this position) and creation of a DEAI Committee by the Board of Trustees in 2020.
The museum welcomes and connects with visitors on an intimate scale, in a personal and profound way. And through enhanced virtual programs and an evolving group of community partners, the Phillips seeks to engage with audiences beyond the museum’s walls, meeting people where they are. The museum has advocated for and modeled the ways that art can promote and enhance wellness in people’s lives, much as it did for Duncan Phillips during a difficult and emotional time in his life. As an example, during the pandemic, the museum’s community engagement team created 3,000 wellness kits (PPE, art activities, supplies and materials) for THEARC and engaged community members in workshops both online and in-person once conditions improved.
The Phillips Collection stands at an important juncture in its 100-year history as it transitions to new leadership. Its size allows it to be nimble and flexible so it can adapt quickly to unexpected challenges such as the pandemic. Its highly regarded collection is expanding with new acquisitions. Its pioneering commitment to DEAI is recognized and lauded. And, it has a unique status in the nation’s capital as a privately supported museum with a significant endowment and loyal stakeholders. While much has been done, the museum seeks a new CEO who can build on its successes at an especially exhilarating time in its history.
Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion
The Phillips Collection is committed to ensuring that all members of its community feel seen and valued in everything they do. DEAI values guide the organization in sustaining its dynamic museum environment—comprising staff, the board of trustees, supporters, volunteers, audiences, collections, exhibitions, programming, and internal operations. They unlock diversity’s power and beauty by intentionally fostering an inclusive, accessible museum fashioned upon a foundation of equity. Only by promoting and living out these values can The Phillips truly democratize belonging in the museum and set an example for the field.
DEAI work is a journey; it is never done and will continue to evolve. The Phillips has acknowledged that they are at the beginning of this journey, and their commitment to DEAI work is steadfast and deeply integrated into the museum’s updated five-year strategic plan.
About The Phillips Collection
The Phillips Collection is an “intimate museum combined with an experiment station.”
–Duncan Phillips, 1926
Mission: The Phillips Collection is America’s first home for modern and contemporary art, where the intimate and experimental meet. Through art, every visitor can explore the most pressing ideas of our time via dynamic collaborations, innovative inquiry, empathetic forms of public participation, and diverse voices.
Originally founded as the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery by Duncan and Marjorie Phillips in 1921, after a tragic span of two years during which both his father, Major Duncan Phillips, and older brother James suddenly passed away, the Phillips Collection was conceived with a focus on the work of the contemporary artists of their day. He collected the work of his contemporaries at a time when art that did not follow traditional, academic standards was not widely accepted as aesthetically and culturally valuable.
This philosophy of taking risks allowed for Duncan Phillips to be the first to collect and exhibit artists who were not well known at the time: Milton Avery, Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Paul Cezanne, Arthur Dove, Jacob Lawrence, Aristide Maillol, Man Ray, Grandma Moses (Anne Mary Robertson), Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, Rufino Tamayo, Edouard Vuillard, among others. As the collection grew, the family moved out of their Dupont Circle home to a new residence in 1930, allowing the entire house to become a dedicated space for the museum.
The Phillips is internationally renowned for its permanent collection of nearly 6,000 works by American and European impressionist, modern, and contemporary artists. It distinguished itself by presenting the first solo exhibitions in the US for a range of artists. The Phillips has earned an international reputation for excellence and traveling exhibitions abroad and in US which bridge the connections between contemporary artists and their modernist forerunners. The Phillips prides itself in engaging with living artists of its times, as Duncan Phillips did in establishing the museum.
Set in an impressive historic home and a $30 million state-of-the-art addition in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, The Phillips Collection welcomes visitors from all over the world. Its exquisite, world-class exhibitions, acclaimed educational programs, innovative Center for Art & Knowledge, and expanded gallery, auditorium and library facilities make The Phillips one of the world’s leading art museums and a treasured cultural gem of the nation’s capital.
Governed and supported by an engaged Board of Trustees, The Phillips Collection is privately funded and raises more than half of its $12 million annual operating revenues through generous contributions and sponsorships from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The museum has an endowment that includes $85 million in invested funds along with an additional $15 million in expected gifts, for a total of $100 million including known, unrealized gifts. The Phillips currently maintains a talented and loyal professional team of 75 full-time staff members.
For more information about the Museum, please visit The Phillips Collection website.
The Vradenburg Director and CEO is the chief executive of The Phillips and its principal spokesperson. The Director is responsible for setting the museum’s direction, implementing its strategic plan, and fostering the engagement of others in this endeavor for the public good. The Director is a leader both internally and externally, guiding the museum’s fulfillment of its mission at a strategic, organizational, and operational level. The Board of Trustees is an important partner to the Director and the Director serves as an ex-officio member of the Board.
The Director and CEO is responsible for and actively engaged in the artistic direction, programming, and operations of the museum, including the hiring and supervision of The Phillips’ staff.
Essential Job Function:
- Working with the Board of Trustees, the Director and CEO provides the vision and personal leadership for the institution’s growth and development and to enhance its goal of national prominence and international recognition. They develop and implement a strategic plan to fulfill The Phillips’ mission, increasing the participation of all stakeholders and ensuring its financial stability and growth.
- Actively cultivates and solicits contributions and grants from private and public sources, including bequests and other planned gifts.
- Serves as spokesperson and advocate of The Phillips; effectively represents the institution to all community, professional, governmental, civic, and private agencies; enhances the organization’s public image to expand interest and support.
- Directs the maintenance, display, and general welfare of artwork in The Phillips’ possession in accordance with the highest professional and ethical standards.
- Advances diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, working in close partnership with Board members as well as staff on these efforts.
- Through supervision of Department Heads, strategically plans, organizes, and directs the activities of professional and non-professional staff in all divisions of The Phillips; prioritizes and organizes human and financial resources; develops, coordinates, approves, and executes policies, methods, and procedures affecting all areas of the museum.
Top candidates will possess minimally ten years of progressively responsible leadership experience in a museum or related educational/research organization with the most recent role reflecting at least five years at a senior managerial level. Our client seeks candidates with an advanced degree or equivalent knowledge in Art History, Fine Arts, Education, Museum Studies, Nonprofit Management, Arts or Business Administration, or other related and allied fields. Our client is also interested in candidates who have comparable professional experience and a track record of accomplishment in the cultural sector.
The ideal candidate should possess the following professional expertise, leadership competencies, and personal qualities:
Strategic and Visionary: An entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit, with the background and skills to deliver on the mission of The Phillips Collection, partnering with the Board to create a vision for its future. This individual will be a strategic thinker with the foresight, capacity, and experience to understand and balance complex and discrete needs. Demonstrating strong emotional intelligence (“EQ”), capable of maintaining stability and instilling confidence when faced with ambiguity and rapidly changing circumstances, with an ability to recognize and manage risk.
Mission Fit and Expertise: This leader will be an energetic advocate and champion for the museum with the intellect, knowledge, experience, and training to represent and elevate the museum in the region and in the broader cultural world. Genuine and deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, continuing the work that has been started.
Development and Relationship-Building: The Director and CEO will be an experienced fundraiser with a measurable track record of success, and the expertise and mindset to build strong relationships with past, current, and potential donors, as well as the Board. This leader will be versed in various fundraising channels, including major gifts and capital campaigns, and able to provide high-touch engagement with all the Museum’s constituents. The Director and CEO will be a flexible and self-motivated leader who will partner closely with the Board of Trustees to devise a successful fundraising strategy which leverages the unique landscape of the region’s philanthropic community.
Business Acumen and Operational Expertise: The Director and CEO will have a strong record of successful oversight and management of finance and operations. Experienced in budget, financial, and people management, this individual will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions, strategic plans or initiatives, and programs on individuals as well as the organization overall, and make sound recommendations.
Credibility and Recognition: Highly regarded in the art museum world and possessing integrity, the successful candidate will have significant standing with peer institutions to represent The Phillips Collection effectively to appropriate constituents.
Skilled and Inspirational Manager: The Director and CEO will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a collegial, team-oriented working style, open and nimble in adjusting to emerging needs and shifting priorities. They will have a proven record of visible and effective management and the demonstrated ability to professionally develop, nurture, and retain a strong team that is focused on impact, excellence, accountability, and efficiency. This individual will communicate a shared vision, inspire quality performance, and build strong morale by empowering staff through active and effective communication, feedback, and delegation, promoting teamwork and collaboration.
External Relations: Dedicated to reaching out to people and serving as an ambassador for the institution; a good listener with genuine interest in making connections and becoming embedded in the community. The Director and CEO will have a demonstrated ability to interact comfortably with a range of constituents, building bridges, sustaining confidence among the various constituents, including Board members, donors, museum members, volunteers, and visitors, as well as community and government leaders. Utilizing a high degree of public relations insight and acumen, serve as the outward-facing representative of the museum. Able to speak and write fluidly about the organization’s legacy, impact, growth strategy, and future direction; equally comfortable and effective in presenting to small groups as well as large audiences. Considerate and open, promoting dialogue to identify best practices, synthesizing divergent views, and coalescing all constituencies around a shared view or plan.
Compensation & Benefits
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, and the Phillips offers an attractive set of benefits. The target overall compensation package for this position begins at $375,000.
The Phillips Collection is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.
Naree W.S. Viner and Stephen Milbauer of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email Stephen directly at email@example.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of the 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.