Director and Chief Curator

Mead Art Museum

Amherst College,
Amherst, MA

Mead Art Museum holds the Amherst College art collection. Established with funds bequeathed by William Rutherford Mead (class of 1867), a partner in the storied architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the Mead occupies its original building, opened in 1949 and renovated in 1999-2001 and 2008-11. Mead Art Museum is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums.

Amherst College is a premier private undergraduate liberal arts college with a diverse student body of 1,800 students and an outstanding faculty of two hundred scholar-teachers. Its rigorous academics, active co-curricular life, dedicated faculty, and robust resources attract students who bring an extraordinary range of talents, interests, and accomplishments to the campus community.

Amherst College has taken a leadership role among highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities in successfully diversifying the racial, socioeconomic, and geographic profile of its student body. The college is similarly committed to enriching its educational experience and its culture through the diversity of its faculty, administration, and staff. Successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to working at a college in which students are broadly diverse with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.

Situated in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts, Amherst College is less than two hours from Boston and New Haven, and three hours from New York City. Amherst College is a member of the Five College Consortium, a collaboration of four Massachusetts colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, making the area a vibrant scholarly community of some 2,200 faculty and 30,000 students. Mead Art Museum participates in Museums10, a cooperative association of local arts, literary, history, and natural history museums that exemplifies the rich cultural resources of the region. The Beneski Museum of Natural History, the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, and the Folger Shakespeare Library are also part of Amherst College.

The 19,000 objects in the Mead’s fine collection represent a wide range of historical periods, national schools, and artistic media. Highlights include:

  • Photography by Ansel Adams, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Petah Coyne, Kikai Hiroh, Kageyama Koyo, Dorothea Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, Vik Muniz, Andres Serrano, Alfred Stieglitz, and Shomei Tomatsu.
  • Modern and contemporary works by Josef Albers, Judy Chicago, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Samia Halaby, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.
  • Works in the Thomas P. Whitney ’37 Collection of Russian Art by Alexander Archipenko, Pavel Filonov, Naum Gabo, Nataluia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Konstantin Somov, and Vladimir Tatlin.
  • African textiles, sculpture, and ritual artifacts.
  • Tibetan tangkas.
  • Japanese woodblock prints.
  • Bequest of Herbert L. Pratt 1895 group of portraits and miniatures by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Sully.
  • American sculpture by Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Manship, Frederic Remington, George Rickey, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
  • Hudson River School paintings, including works by Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, and Thomas Cole.
  • American and European prints and drawings by George Bellows, William Blake, Albrecht Durer, Francisco Goya, Winslow Homer, as well as an oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens.
  • Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Pre-Hispanic antiquities.

Virtually all of the Museum’s collection has been documented photographically; these images and basic catalogue information are now available online in a searchable database at

At Amherst College, the Mead serves as a laboratory for interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching involving original works of art. The past seven years have marked a period of dramatic growth for the Museum during which new academic initiatives have inspired many faculty members to teach with the collections. The Mead traditionally collaborates closely with the College’s Department of Art and the History of Art, which has a teaching and research faculty of fifteen artists and scholars with national and international reputations. Today, faculty from nearly every academic discipline teach with the Museum’s collections, bringing the majority of Amherst College’s student body into direct, meaningful contact with original works of art in the Museum each year. Students feel increasingly comfortable attending museum presentations and conducting research in the Mead’s archives.

The Mead’s attention to its academic community has not come at the expense of the broader public: indeed, over the past half-decade, overall museum attendance has grown by 300 percent, fueled both by the Museum’s commitment to excellence in its exhibitions and by the Museum’s public events — from family festivals to book clubs, cabaret performances to mindfulness meditation sessions. In addition to selections from its permanent collection, in recent years, Mead has annually presented as many as seven special exhibitions on subjects ranging from American art of the Civil War to Renaissance altarpieces and the city of Tokyo. Recent projects involving contemporary art have brought artists Nick Cave, Jonathan Meese, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Samia Halaby, Frank Stella, Sonya Clark, Sol LeWitt, and Chuck Close, and their works, to the Mead. The Mead’s exhibitions reach a wide and growing audience, drawn from a region that encompasses Boston, Hartford, and the Berkshires. The Museum’s commitment to free admission and exceptionally accessible open hours (from 9:00 am to midnight on many days) ensures a diverse range of visitors. In all of its work, the Mead seeks to further its mission: “to stimulate thought, inspire creativity, provide insight, interrogate preconceptions, and invite contemplation through interaction with the original works of art that the Mead collects, researches, interprets exhibits, publishes, and preserves.”

Much of this transformational work has been made possible through the generous support of foundations — including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Japan Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation — as well as individuals, in particular many devoted and generous alumni of the College, including those who are now engaged in endowing the Directorship and the Head of Education positions. The Friends of the Mead help promote the Museum and support its programs and activities. Mead Art Museum has a $1.7 million budget for operations, personnel, and acquisitions, and an endowment (including pledges) of over $10 million.

Additional information about Mead Art Museum, including a complete schedule of exhibitions and events, is available on the Museum’s website:

The next Director will also serve as the Chief Curator of Mead Art Museum and must be committed to organizing a vibrant and creative exhibition schedule, including both traveling and in-house exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s holdings, as well as overseeing incoming loan exhibitions. The Director should foster conversations that engage the Museum’s historic holdings with contemporary scholarly trends, contemporary art, and our technological age. Under the new Director, the Mead should realize the unique potential of an academic museum to explore contested ground and to challenge fixed perceptions. The Director will work to further diversify the Museum’s collection so that it will better reflect the global art world and better stimulate the interests of a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse and increasingly international student body, working with College faculty to optimize the educational impact of acquisitions. The Mead should be positioned as a leader among academic museums, expanding and re-envisioning the role of the visual arts in the academic and co-curricular life of the College.

The Director is responsible for managing the personnel and budget of the Museum and leading an exceptionally talented professional staff. The Director reports to the Dean of the Faculty, reflecting the vital academic role of the Museum. The Mead Director works closely with a 26-member national Advisory Board and the college’s senior staff to direct and implement the Mead’s strategic priorities, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.

Specifically, the new director will:

  • Work with the Museum staff and with Amherst College faculty across disciplines, and the Art and History of Art Department in particular, to foster the use of the Museum in support of the educational mission of the College.
  • Collaborate creatively with all arts programs and offices at Amherst, maintaining and developing the Mead’s vital connections across campus.
  • Lead the Museum to maintain and enhance its permanent collection through acquisitions and gifts of the highest quality.
  • With the curatorial staff, explore, use, and research the permanent collection for exhibitions at the Museum, and develop innovative and dynamic traveling exhibitions, both independently and collaboratively with other institutions. The Director will use his/her professional network to bring world-class artists and their art to the Mead.
  • In coordination with the appropriate staff of the Museum and the college, develop and oversee an annual operating budget as well as project budgets.
  • Work in concert with the college Advancement Office in a carefully crafted development effort to support the Museum’s operations, exhibitions, programs, and special projects and be willing and able to visit, cultivate, and solicit prospective donors and to represent the Museum at regional and national events.
  • Maintain active contacts with appropriate granting agencies, working with them to identify appropriate sources of funding. Work with the College’s Office of Foundation and Corporate Relations in an ongoing program of grant proposals.
  • Provide information to and facilitate the work of the Advisory Board and collaborate with board members to secure the Museum’s resources and to expand the Museum’s reach and stature.
  • Assure the care and preservation of the Museum’s collection and the appropriate use, protection and maintenance of the facility.

Amherst College is seeking an energetic and entrepreneurial Director and Chief Curator with a solid art history background and a passion for art and for working with college students with diverse interests and backgrounds. S/he must be able to articulate a strategic vision for the Museum and must possess strong skills in fundraising, management, and exhibition and program development.
Specific requirements include:

  • M.F.A. or M.A. in art history or a closely related field required, Ph.D. preferred, with progressively responsible experience as a curator and/or administrator of an art museum or comparable not-for-profit art organization.
  • An established record of exhibitions and publications.
  • Demonstrated experience managing both the budget and operations of a significant art organization; familiarity with basic accounting principles and ability to navigate financial statements.
  • A record of success in securing competitive grants and in fundraising.
  • Ability to be a compelling, energetic and enthusiastic spokesperson, capable of articulating the Mead’s mission to diverse audiences.
  • Effective mentoring and employee management skills, with the ability to inspire strong performances from a diverse, exceptionally talented staff.
  • Familiarity with best practice standards governing collections care, acquisitions/de-accessions, exhibitions, publications, and facilities management.
  • Conversant with new technologies, the ability to lead the Mead successfully in an increasingly digital age.

Spring/Summer 2015

Amherst College is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women, persons of color, and persons with disabilities to apply.

To apply, interested candidates should submit the following materials:

  • A cover letter expressing interest in the position and outlining relevant experience.
  • A complete curriculum vitae of education, employment, honors, awards, exhibitions, and publications.
  • The names and contact information of three professional references.

Materials should be sent to:
Linda Sweet, Partner
Management Consultants for the Arts
Via email only:
Subject Line: Mead Museum

Categories: Job Postings