The Lunder Institute for American Art (Lunder Institute) was founded in 2017 as part of the Colby College Museum of Art (Colby Museum) to create a unique forum for scholarship, artistic practice, dialogue, and mentorship among visiting scholars and artists, faculty and students, and local and global communities. In doing so, it seeks to advance Colby College’s educational purpose, which prioritizes learning and growth within a civically engaged, interdisciplinary, and global context. Informed by place, community, and collaboration, the Lunder Institute’s primary mission is to expand who shapes American art and alters its contours while demonstrating the value of art as a public good.The Lunder Institute is committed to multi-disciplinary, multi-genre exchange that allows artists and scholars from a broad range of backgrounds and areas of expertise to engage in shared inquiry and dialogue. Based at Colby College’s The Greene Block and Studios in downtown Waterville, Maine, the Lunder Institute is guided by a commitment to equity and racial justice. It acts as an incubator for the field on a national level, investigating and producing a new understanding of American art, past and present, and its relationship to the crucial questions of our time. The Greene Block and Studios is part of a developing arts ecosystem that results from a partnership between Colby College and leaders from the City of Waterville.
Each year the Lunder Institute hosts a range of scholars, community experts, and arts professionals at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship related to the Colby Museum’s collection and topics of particular concern to the field of American art. Visiting artists—including resident fellows in the Lunder Institute’s spaces—research and develop new work, collaborating in a variety of ways with faculty, museum staff, students, area residents, and members of Maine’s diverse arts communities. For the 2021-2022 academic year, artist Dread Scott will serve as the Senior Fellow in collaboration between the Lunder Institute and Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities. Additionally, a cohort of six research fellows led by Distinguished Scholar Jessica Horton are focusing on aspects of modern art related to the American Southwest.
Founded in 1959, the Colby Museum is a teaching museum, a destination for American art, and a place for education and engagement with local, national, and global communities. The museum actively contributes to the college’s curricular and co-curricular programs, education and wellbeing of its local community, and the region’s quality of life. The museum inspires connections between art and people through distinctive exhibitions, programs, and publications, along with an outstanding collection that emphasizes American art and contemporary art within holdings that span multiple cultures and time periods. The Colby Museum seeks to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and access across all its work and to advocate for the community value of art, artists, and museums in engaging with today’s most vital questions.
Founded in 1813, Colby College is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby College’s rigorous academic program is rooted in the deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Independent and collaborative research, study abroad, and internships offer robust opportunities to prepare students for postgraduate success. Colby College is home to a community of 2,100 dedicated and diverse students from around the globe. Its location provides easy access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences. In a period of fast-paced progress, Colby College is building on its strong foundation while remaining committed to excellence, to supporting students and faculty at the highest levels, and to the college’s deep liberal arts traditions. This new chapter includes the creation of innovative academic initiatives and partnerships, strengthening the connections between the liberal arts and the professional world, revitalizing downtown Waterville, and pursuing significant capital projects for performing arts and athletics.
The Lunder Institute has a staff of four full-time employees. Its work is informed by an Advisory Council and the input of others at the Colby Museum, Colby community, and the field. The annual operating budget of the Lunder Institute approaches $1 million, inclusive of salaries.
Commitment to Equity and Inclusion
Advancing equity and inclusion in the field of American art—and, by doing so, in the wider world—is core to the mission of the Colby Museum and its Lunder Institute. National and campus conversations on inequality and race have highlighted the unique responsibility that the Colby Museum has as an academic art institution—as a place where people can listen, ask questions, and challenge assumptions—to engage in this dialogue and to act. The museum affirms its commitment to multidisciplinary teaching and learning. Its collection lies at the heart of research, deep engagement with students and the broader public, and opportunities for learning and leveraging it toward fighting racialized violence, injustice, and inequality. Colby College recognizes the barriers faced by those who come from situations of social or economic challenge, or who belong to groups that have been historically marginalized from museums. As a result, Colby College encourages inquiries from candidates from these backgrounds who may contribute diverse perspectives to the college and can challenge the museum and its audiences to think in more expansive and complex ways about the meaning and value of works of art for the benefit of students, faculty, and visitors.
The City of Waterville, Maine, is situated in the land of the Wabanaki people and located on the banks of the Kennebec River. It is home to three colleges: Colby College, Thomas College, and Kennebec Valley Community College. The population includes more than 16,500 year-round residents and the community serves as a service center for more than 120,000 area residents. Ninety minutes north of Portland and just off Interstate 95, the city is at the heart of central Maine.
With a median household income of $39,000, Waterville is a post-industrial city in a period of transformation. Invigorated by economic development and job growth combined with an array of indoor and outdoor activities, the historic downtown area is being revitalized through unprecedented investment and redevelopment—an effort where the arts play a central role. It is an eclectic blend of old and new, with seven structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Waterville offers a wide range of year-round arts and cultural activities, including the Maine International Film Festival, Taste of Waterville, and Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market, as well as programs presented by various Colby College entities. The city also features a well-recognized cinema, a year-round performing arts venue, and the Colby Museum—the largest art museum in the state. Waterville Opera House, Redington Museum, Maine Film Center, Ticonic Gallery + Studios, and Railroad Square Cinema are only part of the robust arts and culture offerings.
Waterville Creates, one of the Colby Museum’s most important community partners, was established in 2014 to strengthen the arts in Waterville through thoughtful collaboration of the community’s cultural organizations, including the Colby Museum. 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 Greene Block and Studios, which 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.
Sources: midmainechamber.com, waterville-me.gov, watervillecreates.org, artscollaborative.colby.edu
Joining the Lunder Institute at a critical time in its evolution, the new Director will have the opportunity to shape its vision and strategy, including its program, practices, and structure. This individual will build on the strong foundations established in its first four years while proactively envisioning its future. The Director will oversee the staff, resources, and programs of this unique local, national, and international museum-based initiative at the intersection of research and artistic production. Reporting to the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby Museum, the Director will serve as a member of museum’s senior leadership team in advising and informing institutional direction beyond the specific functions of the Lunder Institute. Overseeing a Manager of Programs, Manager of Operations and Special Projects, Curator, occasionally a Post Doctorate Fellow, and student interns, the new Director will shape the structure of the Lunder Institute’s staff.
With equity as a guide, the Director will build programs, partnerships, and networks that ensure collaborative engagement and advance critical and creative research in American art and related fields. Forging local, regional, and national partnerships, they will maximize and connect the resources of the Colby Museum, Lunder Institute, Colby College, and local and regional communities. This individual will design fellowship programs and convenings for and with artists, creative practitioners, community experts, and scholars who seek to further grow their practice and do so in the community through dialogue with students, faculty, museum staff, and others. The Director will champion the Lunder Institute’s mission, building trust and positive relationships with diverse constituencies, including supporters. Pursuing new opportunities in alignment with mission and strategies, the Director will ensure integration and operational effectiveness in relation to the staff and functions of the Colby Museum. They will develop and manage personnel, spaces at The Greene Block and Studios, and financial resources, while also establishing processes of evaluation and reflection. Interacting regularly with the Office of the Arts, other leaders at Colby College, donors, and Colby Museum Board of Governors, the Director will actively contribute to the field through the lens of their field of artistic, scholarly, educational, curatorial, or administrative practice.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Program Leadership
- Develop and implement an ambitious artistic and research vision for the Lunder Institute’s programs and connect its creative practice in the region to a national and global network and dialogue.
- Lead all activities and staff to foster an environment where artists, scholars, and other creative practitioners who work with the Lunder Institute can thrive in their practice.
- Develop opportunities to identify and recruit a diverse range of fellows and collaborators, working in partnership with key stakeholders locally and nationally.
- Challenge conventional thinking about the understanding of American art in guiding the Lunder Institute’s activities and actively contribute to the field by gathering others and publishing, presenting, and sharing knowledge.
- Act as an ambassador and lead spokesperson, connecting the Lunder Institute to potential partners both internally and externally and building ongoing networks of collaboration across the field of art with a focus on American art.
- Contribute in shaping the organization’s vision, mission, and culture as a member of the Colby Museum’s senior management team.
- Serve as co-liaison of the Collections and Impact Committee of the museum’s Board of Governors and interact regularly with governors.
- Co-create projects that inform research, exhibition, programming, and interpretation of the museum’s collections and archives, collaborating with the Lunder Chief Curator and other curators at the Colby Museum, Chief of Learning and Engagement, Deputy Director, and Director of the Library.
- Embrace other strategic vision and program leadership duties as needed.
Community Engagement and Fundraising
- Engage with community organizations and stakeholders to foster civic connection and the Lunder Institute’s ongoing work as a community partner.
- Forge and sustain institutional partnerships at the regional, national, and international levels to advance the Lunder Institute’s mission.
- Lead the Lunder Institute’s generative relationships with other campus centers, institutes, audiences, students, and faculty, facilitating academic engagement with fellows and programs.
- Collaborate with museum colleagues to facilitate academic engagement between fellows and Colby College classes.
- 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.
- Identify and pursue project opportunities for fundraising, developing proposals and preparing comprehensive reports as needed.
- Partner with the Diamond Family Director of the Arts at Colby College, leaders of Waterville Creates, and other constituents, developing, executing, and evaluating community and public programs at The Greene Block and Studios to create dynamic opportunities that enhance campus engagement and contribute to the cultural vitality of the Waterville community and the State of Maine.
- Demonstrate open and positive communication and foster regular interaction among all personnel, fellows, advisors, and partners, recognizing and honoring the ways in which different people draw upon cultural, communal, and identity-based ways of knowing, being, and doing.
- Embrace other community engagement and fundraising duties needed.
Organizational Management and Administration
- Design methods of participation and selection that manifest anti-racist, equitable principles and counter exclusionary value systems that have dominated the artworld, with input from the Lunder Institute team, Advisory Council, and other senior leaders of the museum.
- Establish equitable frameworks for hosting and supporting all fellows.
- Oversee the Lunder Institute’s operations, programs, and finances to achieve annual goals while creating a sense of ownership among all and a culture reflective of its values.
- Supervise and mentor the Lunder Institute’s staff, setting strategic goals and building teamwork across a range of allied positions.
- Support intern research projects and schedule key semester check-in meetings.
- Establish priorities for program evaluation and methods for ongoing reflection about process, results, and impact.
- Prepare and monitor annual and multi-year plans and budgets in dialogue with the museum’s Director and ensure effective budget, resource, and facility oversight.
- Manage and report on all grant funds in a timely manner.
- Embrace other organizational management and administration duties as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Director will be a dynamic and diplomatic leader who values equity, artistic practice, scholarship, and community-based knowledge. A versatile self-starter who can see the big picture, this individual will work collaboratively with the team and value frequent interaction with internal and external stakeholders. As an authentic spokesperson and advocate, they will build organizational capacity and foster innovative strategies for programmatic growth and research while energizing a collaborative community by gathering the input of others. A people-oriented leader, the Director will embrace and leverage people, place, and community by developing a long-term vision that amplifies its foundation. A courageous and open thinker, the Director will bring knowledge and curiosity for American Art and its evolving definition.
Other key competencies include:
- Creativity and Innovation – The ability to envision and implement new approaches, designs, processes, technologies, and systems to achieve short- and long-term goals.
- Leadership and Personal Accountability – The capacity to organize and motivate others with a sense of purpose and direction while being accountable for personal and professional actions.
- Flexibility – The dexterity to readily modify, respond, and adapt to changing circumstances with minimal resistance and to rapidly shifting between tasks.
- Teamwork and Diplomacy – The resiliency to cooperate with others and meet objectives while effectively and tactfully handling difficult or sensitive issues.
An advanced degree in art, art history, American history, American studies, cultural studies, or equivalent education is required. Seven to 10 years of related experience within higher education or a museum, arts, educational, or cultural organization is needed. At least three years at a senior leadership level with supervisory responsibilities is desirable. Exemplary verbal and written communication skills and a track record of collaborative work with a variety of stakeholders are necessary.
Compensation and Benefits
Colby College offers a competitive salary commensurate with experience. A comprehensive range of benefits includes paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays; medical, dental, and vision insurances; 403(b) retirement plan; and the quality of life that Maine has to offer.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. CV is not required. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, including the anticipated salary range, please contact:
Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Senior Vice President
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225
Colby College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college that admits students and makes employment decisions on the basis of the individual’s qualifications to contribute to Colby’s educational objectives and institutional needs. Colby College does not discriminate in its educational programs or employment on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, or military or veteran status. Colby is an equal opportunity employer and operates in accordance with federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination. Colby complies with Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in an institution’s education programs and activities. Colby College encourages inquiries from candidates who will contribute to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the college.
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