The University of Nebraska at Omaha (“UNO”) seeks a collaborative, interdisciplinary, institution- builder to serve as the founding Executive Director of the Samuel Bak Museum and Academic Learning Center (“The Museum,” “Bak Museum,” “Learning Center”)—an institution dedicated to engaging in meaningful conversation and content around visual testimony, human rights, genocide, the Holocaust, art history, social justice, and moral philosophy. Reporting to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Executive Director will oversee the establishment of the museum; developing strategy, building a staff team, raising resources, conceiving of programs and exhibitions, supporting research, establishing on and off campus partnerships, and envisioning how best to reach broad communities and intergenerational audiences within Omaha, across Nebraska, and the greater Midwest. The Bak Museum will also lead on national dialogue and efforts which may include publications, conferences, and global seminars.
The Museum will be housed in UNO’s soon-to-be Academic Learning Center, a $23 million dollar building project which involves the renovation of Kayser Hall and will include gallery and exhibition space, education and event space, and offices for allied academic departments and centers involved in activities and community engagement efforts interrelated to the Bak Museum. For many years, UNO has had an extensive track record and a deep dedication to community engagement and dialogue, and today, The Museum serves as a core strategic initiative of the University.
The Bak Museum will be home to over 500 works of art by renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak. These donated pieces of art, which include a variety of oils on canvas and other art on paper, were completed between 1945 – 2020 and are currently held by the artist and/or Pucker Gallery located in Boston, Massachusetts. This Museum is significant as it will house the only major collection of Bak’s work on a university campus. The Holocaust Museum Houston and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum are the only two other institutions with dedicated space to Bak’s work.
Looking ahead, The Museum is well positioned to become a destination for UNO students and faculty, local K-12 students and teachers, and community members. It also has the potential to be a resource for students, faculty, researchers, and artists from across the nation and globally.
The Learning Center hopes to draw thousands of visitors each year, not just to experience the art of Samuel Bak, but to engage in scholarship and educational activities dedicated to the themes of visual testimony, human rights, genocide studies, the Holocaust, art history and social justice.
The Executive Director must resonate deeply with art as a means for engaged dialogue. They will be passionate and familiar with complex and interdisciplinary topics addressed at The Museum, have experience serving as the external face of an organization, bring a history of institution-building, and have a track record as a successful rainmaker.
The Executive Director will inspire and implement new ideas, structures, and programs; hire and lead a dynamic team; nurture a supportive organizational culture; and establish mutually beneficial community partners and engagement opportunities on and off campus. This leader must also thrive in an academic setting with faculty, administrators, and students, and be able to see the potential for the Bak Museum to become a national and international convenor and resource. Expertise in museum operations and an understanding of university culture will be important.
Inquiries, nominations, and applications (including a resume and a letter of interest) should be sent in confidence and electronically to:
Rebecca Swartz, Partner
Ryan Leichenauer, Senior Associate
The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation in its programs, activities, or employment.
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