Director, Lunder Institute for American Art – Colby College Museum of Art–Lunder-Institute-for-American-Art_R0000530-1

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Full-Time, Exempt, Salaried, Administrative Staff Appointment


The Colby College Museum of Art seeks a creative, collaborative, and dynamic director to fully realize the mission of its Lunder Institute for American Art and grow it to become a globally recognized incubator and convener of scholarship and artistic practice.


Founded as part of the Colby College Museum of Art in 2017, the Lunder Institute for American Art acts as an incubator for the field at a national level, investigating and producing new understanding about American art, past and present, and its relationship to the crucial questions of our time. With research, convening and studio spaces in downtown Waterville, Maine, it is guided by this mission: Informed by place, in collaboration, and in community, the Lunder Institute for American Art seeks to expand who shapes American art and alters its contours, while demonstrating the value of art as a public good.

The Lunder Institute achieves this mission by stimulating experimental, collaborative, and transdisciplinary inquiry about America and its art, by building research and practice communities among a diversity of artists, scholars, educators, and cultural producers at different stages in their careers, and through a foundational commitment to equity and racial justice. Fellowships, workshops, convenings, mentorship, and public programs connect artists and scholars with faculty, students, and communities near and far, advancing Colby College’s educational purpose, which prioritizes research and learning within a civically engaged, interdisciplinary, and global context.

The Colby Museum’s historical and contemporary collections and exhibitions often provide context and serve as fulcrum for artistic and scholarly exploration. The museum’s partnerships, publication and digital platforms, and its programs offer opportunities for creative production, public engagement, and knowledge sharing. The Lunder Institute’s research mission of engagement and collectivity and its presence on Main Street at The Greene Block + Studios is one of the ways in which the Colby Museum is transforming and amplifying the possibilities for how colleges and their art museums relate to local, regional, and national communities.


The Colby College Museum of Art is a collecting and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, display, and interpretation of the visual arts. We embrace within our collections works of art from diverse cultures and historical periods, with a focus on American art, and commitment to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. We manage these resources for the benefit of the Colby College community, the region, and the nation, and we aspire to display works that embody the highest standards of achievement.


Working to advance equity and inclusion in the field of American art—and, by doing so, in the wider world—is core to our mission. We feel the urgency of national and campus conversations on inequality and are keenly aware of the unique responsibility that we have as an academic art museum—as a place where we can listen, ask questions, and challenge assumptions—to engage in this dialogue, and to act. We affirm the Colby Museum’s commitment to multidisciplinary teaching and learning and our potential for deep engagement with students will be leveraged in this effort toward fighting racialized violence, injustice, and inequality; and we encourage inquiries from candidates who will contribute to the diversity of our College, including its cultural and ethnic diversity.


The City of Waterville, Maine, is situated in the land of the Wabanaki people and located on the banks of the Kennebec River. The area is home to three colleges: Colby College, Thomas College, and Kennebec Valley Community College. The city population includes more than 16,500 year-round residents and the community serves as a service center for more than 120,000 area residents. Seventy-five minutes north of Portland and just off Interstate 95, the city is at the heart of central Maine.

Waterville is a post-industrial city in a period of transformation. Colby College has partnered with city leaders, foundations, government agencies, and private investors in committing $175 million in supporting economic development and a revitalization of the city’s historic downtown. The arts play a central role in this redevelopment. The Greene Block and Studios, which is home to the Lunder Institute, opened in April of 2021, and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is slated to be completed in late-2022, bring new opportunities for creative expression and help drive economic activity throughout the city. In addition, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, which will be a major regional performing arts center, is under construction on the Colby campus. The Waterville Opera House has vibrant community-based arts programming and is run by Waterville Creates, one of the Colby Museum’s most important community partners.  Its programming is guided by the goals and strategies outlined in the 2017 Waterville Cultural Blueprint, a cultural plan developed through a comprehensive community engagement process. Colby College’s overall arts strategy centers on community and seeks to build a culture of creativity that is innovative, bold, and socially conscious to connect emerging creatives, professional artists, cultural thinkers, local organizations, schools, and businesses to reposition central Maine as a lively arts destination.


The Colby College Museum of Art seeks a dynamic director to fully realize the mission of its Lunder Institute and grow it to become a leading incubator and convener of scholarship and artistic practice in American art. The intent is for the director to elevate the work and visibility of the Institute to a position of national and even global preeminence.

Reporting to the Carolyn Muzzy director of the Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Institute director will be a highly visible leader as well as a compelling communicator and community builder. The Lunder Institute forges partnerships to make the Institute accessible and irresistible to artists, scholars, and other cultural producers, including but not limited to the most established.

The director will be intensely committed to inquiry and learning through artmaking and research, championing the role of art and artist in American culture and in people’s lives. They will bring an ethos of experimentation and radical hospitality as well as a carefully developed critical framework. These attitudinal qualities and skills will enable the Lunder Institute to advance equity and access across the field of American art while modeling pedagogies and organizational practices and policies that manifest anti-racist values. They will be a strategic and creative program designer, a supportive and inclusive manager, an effective fundraiser, and a trustworthy representative as they forge and steward partnerships in the field. A courageous and open thinker, the director will bring knowledge and curiosity for American art, its complex histories, and its evolving interpretations. They will actively contribute to the development of the field and to research and learning at Colby through the lens of their field of artistic, scholarly, educational, curatorial, or administrative practice.

Joining the Lunder Institute at a critical time in its evolution, the new director will have the opportunity to shape its strategy and build on the strong foundations established in its first four years while proactively envisioning its future. The director will set and promote the strategic direction for the Institute, oversee and develop the staff, resources, and programs of the Lunder Institute while serving as a member of the Colby Museum’s senior leadership team.


·       Act as ambassador and lead spokesperson, connecting the Lunder Institute and its partners, including Colby’s community, to regional, national and global networks; representing the Lunder Institute; and contributing actively to the field of art.

·       Develop and implement an ambitious artistic and research vision for the Lunder Institute’s programs in dialogue with the museum’s director and others at the Colby Museum.

·       Design strategies to identify and recruit a diverse range of fellows and collaborators, working in partnership with key stakeholders on campus, regionally, and nationally. Ensure that methods of participation and selection manifest anti-racist principles that counter the exclusionary value systems that have dominated the artworld.

·       Promote a positive and aspirational culture through a flexible, adaptable and supportive approach. Create an environment where artists, scholars, students, faculty, and other creative practitioners who work with the Lunder Institute can thrive in their practice.

·       Develop and implement mentorship strategies and authentic professional development experiences with and for Colby students and fellows, as appropriate.

·       Leverage digital, publishing, and programming platforms to share the research and knowledge that emerges from the work of the Lunder Institute and its partners, making transparency and documentation bedrock practices.

·       Design and host convenings that challenge conventional thinking about American art, build relationships, and help shift art historical scholarship, museum practice, pedagogy, and/or artmaking.

·       Co-create projects that deepen, respond to or inform research, display and programming related to the museum’s collections and archives. As appropriate, leverage other holdings in the region.

·       Engage with community organizations and constituents to foster civic connection, elevate the arts experience on campus and in Waterville, and advance the Lunder Institute’s ongoing work as a community partner. This includes working with Diamond Family director of the arts at Colby College to develop programs at The Greene Block and Studios.

·       Establish priorities for program evaluation and methods for ongoing reflection about process, results, and impact.

·       Structure, recruit, supervise, and mentor the Lunder Institute’s personnel, setting strategic goals and building teamwork across a range of allied positions.

·       Develop and monitor the Lunder Institute’s resources, including the budget, maximizing financial resources and spaces and managing funds.

·       Actively build relationships with individuals, foundations, and key funders in partnership with the museum’s director and the advancement team, contributing to donor stewardship and cultivation efforts. Interact regularly with Museum Board of Governors, Colby Trustees, and Colby senior leaders. Identify and pursue project opportunities for fundraising, developing proposals and prepare comprehensive reports.

·       Perform additional duties as assigned; duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice


·       Degree in art or art history, American history, American studies, cultural studies or related fields strongly preferred. Advanced degree also preferred. While the candidate need not be a specialist in American art, they must demonstrate interest in American art and its histories —broadly defined—and in contemporary artistic practices.

·       Minimum of 7 years of related experience in the cultural and/or education sector and track record as an emerging or established arts leader

·       Demonstrated skill in managing people, budgets, and other resources effectively and building diverse teams

·       Unwavering commitment to fostering an antiracist, equitable work environment supportive of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and life paths

·       Appreciation for the role of art museums in a liberal arts education

·       Exceptional interpersonal skills, including relationship-building, and the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing

·       Demonstrated capacity for creative and critical project strategy and development and capacity for organizing programs and long-term initiatives

·       Demonstrated initiative; enthusiasm for the priorities the role

·       Excellent organizational and communication skills

·       Strong, self-motivated work ethic; flexibility; and proven ability to work both independently, collaboratively and constructively as a member of a diverse community

·       Ability to travel domestically and internationally as needed


This position will work closely with the director of the Colby College Museum of Art, the deputy director, the chief curator and other museum curators, the Director of Museum Development and other Advancement staff, learning and engagement colleagues at the museum, and other museum staff. They also collaborate frequently with the director of the Arts Office, the director of the Colby Library, and the director of Civic Engagement, as well as campus centers and initiatives, faculty, and students. They interact frequently with Museum Board of Government members and other supporters, with Lunder Institute fellows and guests, and with its partners in the local community, the region, and the field.


General open office and campus environment. Position involves sitting, although frequent movement is necessary. Computer usage involving repetitive hand/wrist motion is also necessary. Some weekend, evening hours required. Travel domestically and internationally required as conditions allow.


Interested candidates should apply electronically by clicking the “Apply” button on the Colby Careers website. Please submit a letter of interest including salary requirements, resume, and the contact information of three professional references. Materials should be addressed to:

Director of the Lunder Institute for American Art – Search Committee
Office of Human Resources
Colby College
5500 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, ME 04901-8855

A review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

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