The Bennington Museum presents the nation’s finest collection of art and historical artifacts from Vermont, northeastern New York, and northwestern Massachusetts. Its purpose is to engage and transform visitors and the community by connecting them to the region’s diverse arts, rich history, and inspiring landscape. It serves as a steward of the community’s historic and evolving sense of place. The 10-acre campus, incorporating the Hadwen Woods and George Aiken Wildflower Trail, is a vital complement to the 23,500-square-foot museum.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1983, Bennington Museum offers nationally recognized and critically acclaimed exhibitions, galleries, and events. The permanent collection, with more than 45,000 objects, is crowned by the largest public collection of paintings by American folk artist Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, as well as the definitive survey of nineteenth-century Bennington stoneware. The collection also includes the famous Bennington Flag, the renowned 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt, comprehensive documentation of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington, and locally produced art ranging from Ralph Earl’s 1798 view of the village to work of today’s artists.
Bennington Museum offers a wide range of public programs, including lectures, workshops, and a popular concert series featuring Vermont and regional artists and composers. It also offers school programs that complement classroom instruction, supporting teachers’ goals by sparking curiosity, promoting critical and creative thinking, and encouraging communication among peers. The museum features the Grandma Moses Schoolhouse, which includes an interactive family center and has developed successful virtual programming that it plans to continue beyond pandemic constraints.
Bennington Museum’s Research Library has been the region’s most comprehensive genealogical and biographical resource on New England families. With changing needs in genealogical research, the museum has been evaluating the holdings to focus on the history of Vermont and the surrounding areas as a Bennington History Center. Open to students, researchers, and the public, the library’s archive features more than 8,000 published books, with particular emphasis on documents not found online, including vital records, newspapers, and other primary sources.
Bennington Museum has a staff of six full-time and three part-time employees. It is governed by a 16-member board of trustees led by Chair Constance West. Bennington Museum has endowment funds totaling $4.5 million. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, total reported revenue was $920,659, with $625,571 from contributions and grants and $166,832 from program service revenue. Total reported expenses were $1.2 million. In 2018, the museum embarked on a strategic and master planning initiative to transform the institution through a capital campaign. With pandemic changes, this initiative is being reworked and retooled.
Bennington is part of a cultural region straddling the Massachusetts-Vermont-New York border, with Bennington County (Vermont) sitting directly atop Berkshire County (Massachusetts) and with Rensselaer and Washington Counties (New York) to the west. New York City, Boston, and Montreal are all within a three- to four-hour drive. Bennington Museum participates in partnerships with other regional organizations such as Bennington College, the Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, and Williams College Museum of Art.
Bennington is the sixth largest municipality in the state, with a population of 15,000 people. Chartered in 1749 with Vermont’s first town grant, it is rich in history, arts, culture, and extraordinary natural beauty. The Bennington Battle Monument, Vermont’s most popular historic site, commemorates the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Bennington, which took place nearby in 1777. Poet Robert Frost is buried in the Bennington Center Cemetery, adjacent to the Bennington Museum grounds.
This classic New England town has a long history of manufacturing and craftsmanship, specifically wood processing, pottery, iron, and textiles. As the manufacturing boom tapered off, other economic drivers surfaced. Today, health care, education, agricultural-related businesses, and tourism all play a vital role in Bennington’s economy. The award-winning Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is the town’s largest employer and the seventh largest employer in Vermont. Bennington is also home to the progressive Bennington College and a branch of the Community College of Vermont.
Bennington presents an engaging mix of small-town charm and cultural sophistication, with a variety of local opportunities and developments underway. Bennington’s historic downtown is being revitalized through the multi-million-dollar Putnam Block Redevelopment Project. The Southwestern Vermont Medical Center has recently purchased the former campus of Southern Vermont College as a community resource. With a cost-of-living 4 percent below the national average, Bennington offers highly desirable amenities while remaining affordable. The historic downtown boasts live theater, fine dining, galleries, and retail stores. There are community workspaces and concerts offered year-round by the Bennington County Choral Society, Sage City Symphony, Green Mountain Youth Orchestra, Vermont Arts Exchange, Taconic Music’s summer festival, and the Manchester Music Festival. Of late, Bennington has consistently been named among the most vibrant art communities in the country.
Nature takes center stage during all four seasons. There is excellent hiking, including Bennington’s Mount Anthony, a section of the Taconic Range and the Appalachian Trail, Nordic and alpine skiing, and other outdoor activities for year-round enjoyment.
Sources: bennington.com; visitvermont.com; usnews.com; forbes.com; artcountry.org; bennington.edu
The Executive Director (ED) will be a broad-thinking, goal- and people-oriented executive who values community engagement and leads with a clear sense of purpose and direction. As the face of the organization, the ED will elevate the museum as a cultural and educational resource across Bennington and the tri-state area while promoting it as a destination for visitors from afar. Reporting to the board of trustees, the ED will have day-to-day oversight of all museum operations and be an active presence there. This individual will ensure widely held museum best practices are followed in the care and stewardship of collections and in all matters related to board governance and financial management, as appropriate for an accredited museum.
The ED will be an engaged member of the local community to maximize community partnerships with the museum. This individual will work in partnership with the board to cultivate relationships and financial resources while educating and energizing the board in its role as fundraisers, policymakers, and community ambassadors. They will build a culture of teamwork, open communication, innovation, and commitment to the history, culture, diversity, and traditions of Bennington, the state of Vermont, and the surrounding region.
Roles and Responsibilities
Leadership and Administration
- Develop and foster an internal culture that maintains the highest standards for visitor experience and for fiscal, operational, and organizational stability.
- Oversee all day-to-day operations and programming by directing appropriate staff members and developing strategies, procedures, and goals that will grow program areas.
- Lead diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts to broaden the perspectives of the museum’s collections and the stories it tells to better reflect the whole greater Bennington community.
- Align improvement actions across all staff and operations to achieve strategic goals.
- Build a collaborative, positive-thinking team that understands accountabilities and achieves established goals.
- Ensure the preparation and monitoring of monthly reporting of the annual budget, expense policies, and cash management; manage cash flow; and regularly present appropriate balance sheets, income statements, and other financial oversight tools for board review.
- Lead program and marketing efforts to diversify membership and attendance.
- Initiate and maintain effective communication with and between board members, staff, and volunteers.
- Participate in local, regional, and national industry meetings and organizations to share and implement current best practices and industry standards with staff.
- Ensure the necessary organizational structure, policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for sustainability.
- Manage human resources, staff empowerment, and staff professional development.
- Ensure the safe operation of the organization, its visitors, and employees and the security of assets.
- Evaluate and improve the museum visitor experience.
Revenue Enhancement and Community Engagement
- Serve as the chief fundraiser for the institution, working collaboratively with the board and staff to achieve operational and strategic revenue goals.
- Drive and produce financial results that lead to positive outcomes.
- Lead staff and board in development activities, maintain strong relationships with the funding community, and develop effective donor stewardship and cultivation methods with the board and staff.
- Develop, steward, and maintain appropriate strategic partnerships throughout the community to enhance the museum’s reputation, brand, relevancy, and standing locally and regionally in support of its mission, vision, and strategic goals.
Governance and Strategic Visioning
- Provide support to best utilize the board’s talents and resources and work closely with board members to develop a strategy that effectively mobilizes and utilizes volunteers in support of the museum’s vision and its programs.
- Oversee and drive strategic planning and implementation, including the management of the organization’s human, capital, financial resources, and assets.
- Partner with the board in prospect identification, cultivation, recruitment, and orientation of new board members.
- Assist board committees in developing and implementing goals and objectives for the museum.
- Report progress toward achieving strategic goals to trustees and staff using objective measures and trending methods such as dashboards.
Collections Stewardship, Exhibition, and Program Planning
- Ensure the sound and responsible management of the collection, library, and archives, including legal, social, and ethical obligations.
- Support the development, management, and care of the permanent collection in collaboration with the curatorial staff and collections committee.
- Seek opportunities to develop and strengthen exhibitions and programs through partnerships with other arts and culture organizations, collectors, and educational institutions.
- Establish a diverse exhibitions program that supports the museum’s vision and operational goals.
Traits and Characteristics
The ED will be a dynamic and resourceful leader who values teamwork, continuous improvement, and collaboration with others. An active member of the community, this individual will be people-oriented and will appreciate others’ skills, experience, and input in formulating plans and achieving successful outcomes. The ED will bring a balance of professional expertise, credibility, interpersonal skills, and commitment to internal and external stakeholder satisfaction, along with a strong capacity for self-management and the highest levels of personal accountability and integrity. Versatile and tenacious, this individual will be an intellectually curious, innovative, and harmonious professional with a proven track record of success.
Other key competencies include:
- Leadership – The adeptness to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of stakeholders.
- Self-Management and Personal Accountability – The capacity to prioritize and complete tasks necessary to meet or exceed the agreed upon expectations of the role and to assume accountability for personal actions.
- Planning and Organizing – The aptitude to set and prioritize relevant, realistic, and attainable goals and objectives; to anticipate effects, outcomes, and risks; and to manage resources according to set priorities.
- Interpersonal Skills – The ability to build rapport, demonstrate a sincere interest in others, and effectively communicate and relate well to people.
- Diplomacy and Tact – The commitment to demonstrate respect for others, treat others fairly regardless of personal biases or beliefs, and maintain positive relationships.
- Resiliency – The agility to quickly recover from adversity or setbacks and move past obstacles without delay.
A master’s degree in art history, American history, American studies, or museum studies (or equivalent experience) is required. Seven to 10 years of related experience within a museum, arts, educational, or historical organization, with at least five years at a senior leadership level with supervision responsibilities, is desirable. Candidates should be able to demonstrate success in change management, continuous performance improvement, and goal attainment. They must possess a passion for community outreach and resource development as well as knowledge of the needs, best practices, and standards of museums.
Compensation and Benefits
Bennington Museum provides competitive compensation for an organization of its size, with a salary range between $120,000 and 140,000, and a standard benefits package that includes health insurance, paid time off, paid holidays, and the quality of life offered by the beautiful Shires of Vermont.
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. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:
Senior Vice President
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