The New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA), a major art collection and beloved community resource in central Connecticut, is building a new collaborative team among the curatorial and education staff under the direction of recently hired CEO Brett Abbott. This is an exciting opportunity for the inaugural position of Director of Collections and Exhibitions (DCE) to chart a fresh vision for the art program in close collaboration with the CEO and leadership across the Museum. The new DCE will contribute to plans underway for a reinstallation in the years ahead, setting a new narrative around this impressive permanent collection, as well as fulfill ambitious goals to activate the Museum’s outdoor presence with commissions and creative engagement alongside the Olmsted-designed Walnut Hill Park. They will join the curatorial staff and CEO in updating the Collection Development Plan and guiding priorities for impactful future acquisitions.
The position requires an audience-oriented curator who delights in leading through inspiration, alongside scholarly achievement. The new DCE will be team oriented and genuinely collaborative with a proven track record of harmonious and productive cross-departmental relationships with education, marketing and other staff colleagues. As the Museum looks to sustainably broaden exhibition partners and visibility, and deepen its regional connections, this is an important moment to bring engaging, creative and fundable ideas to the Museum along with a national network of relationships.
The successful candidate will have leadership skills and be adept in collector and donor cultivation. They must be actively engaged and respected within the larger American art world, also preferably with foundations, and have the ability to work creatively within budget. They will have experience managing and mentoring staff and enjoy working with a diverse group of people, including museum guests, supporters, vendors, volunteers and Board members. This requires a collaborative spirit and approach that embraces the expertise and autonomy of staff at every level.
The NBMAA aspires to be one of the nation’s most welcoming museums as it strives to illuminate the voices of all Americans and present an evolving and broadening definition of the field. Celebrating nearly 120 years of collecting and exhibiting American art, the NBMAA draws upon its deep and renowned array of artworks to tell the unfolding story of America’s creative diversity, exploring cultural history and examining new ideas in contemporary art through exhibitions, programs and events. Firmly rooted in the history and culture of New Britain, NBMAA is an important contributor to the quality of life in the local community but draws its audiences from the wider Hartford County area, the state, and the greater Northeast region. The Museum is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and will continue its work to reflect multidimensional audiences through creative programming and acquisitions, as well as in hiring and in governance, building unity internally and opening pathways across its community. The Museum building itself signals welcome. Built in 2006, the beautiful Ann Beha designed Chase Building added 43,000 square feet of gallery and program spaces, a shop, café and terraces. A 2015 addition seamlessly expanded galleries, classrooms and studios. In 2021, the Landers House, the original home of the Museum, was renovated to include a maker’s space, event space and offices. Together there is a total of 70,000 square feet of active museum space. An outdoor sculpture garden on the 2-acre campus blends almost seamlessly with the neighboring Olmsted-designed Walnut Hill Park, whose adjacency allows for Museum/public partnership events, such as the Juneteenth Celebration with programs outside and inside the Museum. At 3,500 members, support is strong and the financial position is solid. Currently, 45 dedicated employees operate within a budget of $4.2M, supported in part by a $25M endowment. With nearly 9,000 works of art in a wide range of media from the Colonial period to the present day, the Museum’s world-renowned collections are stewarded by curatorial and collections staff and enriched through active programming by the educational team and the large and devoted docent corp. Among the many highlights are the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection featuring Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish, and 300 years of masterworks by artists like Robert Duncanson, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, and Sol LeWitt, as well as contemporary artists like Titus Kaphar and Kara Walker. A major installation of Thomas Hart Benton’s five-panel mural, The Arts of Life in America,1932 has a dedicated gallery. The Museum and its public are rightfully proud of the permanent collection and continue to plumb its depth in exhibitions and programming, build upon its strengths and fill gaps as needed.
Opportunities of the Position
The new Director of Collections and Exhibitions has the exciting opportunity to imagine and invigorate a new vision for NBMAA’s artistic program both inside and outside the Museum, in collaboration with the CEO, incoming Director of Learning and Engagement, staff, and community partners.
The NBMAA Director of Collections and Exhibitions will be expected to:
- Provide administrative leadership for the Collections and Exhibitions departments, including overseeing policies, procedures and best practices, schedule and content.
- Collaborate with the CEO, Curator and Collections Manager on the development and execution of the Museum’s art program, including its public art presence and acquisitions development.
- Serve as a senior administrator for the Museum in support of the CEO, representing NBMAA publicly as needed.
- Oversee annual collection and exhibition budgets, as well as long-term projects.
- Mentor and support the Curator, Collections Manager and associated staff, guiding areas of art preparation, installation, registration, cataloguing and vault management functions.
- Collaborate closely with the Curator and the new Director of Learning and Engagement on gallery interpretation and programs; participate in education programs and docent training.
- Meet and enhance the quality and reputational profile of the Museum’s collection and program.
- Cultivate regional and national collectors, donors, artists and other key stakeholders.
- Maintain ties with national curators, artists and exhibition operators, securing and partnering on major traveling shows.
- Maintain relations with national foundations and collaborate with Development and the CEO to assist in funding for the collections and exhibitions.
- Manage the Collections Committee of the Board.
- Understand how to take initiative and anticipate actions needed.
- Be a mature and inspiring presence, collaborative and positive.
- Be detail oriented with strong organizational, communication and writing skills, and be comfortable with multitasking.
- Be a creative and enthusiastic promoter of NBMAA.
Education and Experience
- M.A. in Art History and at least 10 years of successful museum curatorial experience, 7 of which have included administrative duties, with 5 years managing staff and activities.
- Successful track record of research, presentations/publications in the field of American art required. Knowledge of 19th c. art and experience in outdoor and public art are pluses.
- National network of museum professionals, collectors, dealers, artists and foundations contacts is desired.
- Experience developing departmental strategic plans and overseeing long-term collection and exhibition projects.
- Knowledge of preservation and conservation issues and techniques.
- Familiarity with databases, online catalogues, and digitization.
- Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work independently as well as with a team.
- Experience with a Board committee as a liaison desirable.
- Persuasive communication skills both oral and written.
- Range: $90K – 140K per annum (commensurate with experience).
- Competitive benefit package includes medical, dental, a 403b plan and paid time off.
To apply in confidence, email 1) a letter expressing interest in this particular position and giving brief examples of past related experience; 2) a résumé; 3) names of three references with contact information (will not be contacted without prior permission). All applications and nominations are kept confidential. Submit application by May 17, 2023 to retained search firm: Lora Urbanelli, Museum Search & Reference, SearchandRef@museum-search.com. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as candidates will be considered on a rolling basis. For additional information visit: http://museum-search.com/open-searches/. Nominations are welcome.
The New Britain Museum of American Art is committed to fair and accessible employment practices, welcoming individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply for this position.
More About the New Britain Museum of American Art
The NBMAA brings art and people together, reflecting local and regional diversity, to examine the unfolding story of America through art and history. Located since 1937 next to New Britain’s historic Walnut Hill Park, the New Britain Museum of American Art traces its beginnings to 1853 with the establishment of the New Britain Institute which displayed original art works for the benefit of the public. In 1903, John Butler Talcott donated funds for the establishment of an endowment to purchase American art for the enjoyment and education of the community, including its many factory workers who made New Britain the “Hardware Capital of the World.” Today, the collection numbers nearly 9,000 oils, watercolors, drawings, graphics and sculpture spanning 300 years of American history, with an impressive depth and quality – holdings of national importance.
About New Britain, CT and Beyond
New Britain, located in the heart of the State of Connecticut, is about halfway between New York and Boston – each a two-hour drive; nine miles south of Hartford, the state capital; and an hour’s drive to Long Island Sound or New England ski slopes. Greater Hartford is a vibrant hub of economic development, community, arts, culture, sports, recreation, and diversity, making it a destination for those seeking everything from engaging business opportunities and a high quality of life. One of the most educated regions in the country, it offers world-class health care, a rich history of manufacturing, the presence of global broadcasters and media, local and professional sporting events, and urban, suburban and rural living. Several renowned institutes of higher education all contribute to the area’s vitality as does the arts and culture scene, the density of which is enviable, called by some “a cultural paradise.” New Britain is a mid-size city of 72,000, a diverse community with a proud immigrant and manufacturing heritage including the presence of Stanley Black & Decker. It is home to a sizable Polish population and burgeoning Hispanic community, several museums, theaters, a symphony orchestra, several musical groups, two hospitals, Central Connecticut State University, and a minor league baseball team. It boasts over 1,200 acres of parkland and has an attractive downtown area.
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New Britain Museum of American Art DCE Job Profile_FINAL.docx
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