One hundred and ten years since its doors opened, the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) of the University of Rochester (UR), which features a well-balanced and historic collection spanning 5,000 years, has been evolving into a 21st-century art museum. Over the past decade, MAG has become Rochester’s most dynamic and exciting cultural institutions, making important contributions to broader conversations regarding museum practice, specifically regarding the role art museums play in their communities, as well how contemporary art and artists engage with those communities.
The Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director reports to the MAG’s Board of Managers and works closely with the Board and the staff to enhance and implement MAG’s mission, to manage and augment its financial resources, and to develop and implement short- and long-term strategic and business plans. The Director also collaborates closely with the University on all aspects of the MAG’s operations and is a department of the University reporting through the Office of the Provost.
MAG’s culture of equity and inclusion is at the heart of its growth and success in advancing its mission. As the permanent collection has become more diverse and reflective of the community the museum serves, so too has MAG’s Board of Managers, its staff, and its audience. Nurturing a culture of inclusion and equity is a part of MAG’s overarching strategy and every aspect of its daily operations.
• The director will build on MAG’s past successes while providing vision, creativity, and innovation, fostering the team’s continuing development of transformational programs, projects, and exhibitions.
• The director will think creatively about entrepreneurial activities and initiatives to generate new sources and areas of contributed and earned revenue, with a strong sense of financial acumen to sustain museum operations.
• The director will have the opportunity to further refine MAG’s collections, programs, and exhibitions to keep its current audiences energized while attracting and engaging new, younger, and more diverse audiences, including UR students. Important to this effort will be to recruit, steward, and support MAG’s newly-endowed position of Curator of Contemporary Art, which comes with significant additional support for the contemporary art program.
• The director will continue to sustain and foster the partnership with the University of Rochester, which provides support for MAG financially as well in other ways. This includes working with UR administration and faculty to establish new vehicles for the generation and implementation of academic projects, programs, and “bridges” to the University of Rochester, whose campus is four miles from MAG.
In sum, the MAG’s next director will help define the future of this vibrant and growing organization.
The institution’s mission statement – Through art, MAG connects people, inspires fun, and ignites discovery – aligns the efforts of all constituents, and is supported by a 2020-2025 Strategic Plan that has three key objectives, each of which has several strategic initiatives:
• Engage a broader, more diverse audience with art, social, and educational offerings.
• Reach and maintain financial sustainability by building on the progress achieved in executing the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.
• Care for MAG physical resources and nurture its human resources.
The next director will engage in a strategic planning process to create a new plan that galvanizes the passion, dedication, and efforts of the staff, Board leadership, and community.
Since its founding, MAG has been governed by a Board of Managers that currently comprises 35 community members, six leaders from the University of Rochester who serve as voting ex officio members, as well as several non-voting Honorary Board members. The members of the Board of Managers set policy, are responsible for securing the museum’s operating funds, and oversee all acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs. As a department of the University, the director and all MAG staff are University employees. The director reports to both the Board of Managers and the University Provost. The University typically defers to the Board on most elements of museum management.
In the past eight years, MAG’s annual budget has grown from $5 million to $9 million, which includes a direct subsidy from the University. The MAG has an endowment of $75 million as of March 2023 with an annual budget of $1.2 million designated for acquisitions. The institution serves 220,000 visitors annually, and employs approximately 55 full-time and 20 part-time staff, not including Creative Workshop (a community art school) faculty.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
• Provide outstanding leadership in the advancement of MAG’s collections, exhibitions, and educational programs.
• Identify and implement opportunities to expand MAG’s reputation regionally, nationally, and internationally; oversee the development and implementation of an ambitious and extensive exhibition and program schedule.
• Promote a culture of equity, inclusion, and excellence throughout the institution.
• Maintain an organizational culture that is collegial in nature, attracting, retaining, and motivating a diverse, highly qualified staff and corps of volunteers.
• Identify, cultivate, and generate significant financial support, working with the Board of Managers, University staff, and MAG staff to implement MAG’s short- and long-term advancement plans.
• Expand ties to the philanthropic, governmental, university, and civic communities.
• In coordination with the appropriate staff of the museum and the University, develop and present an annual operating budget as well as capital, program, and project budgets to the Board of Managers; monitor the implementation of the budget and oversee financial analysis and forecasting throughout the fiscal year.
• Provide dynamic community leadership to enhance the visibility of MAG and its reputation as an exceptional cultural, economic, community, and university resource; bring the joy and relevance of art to MAG’s current and future constituencies.
• Empower staff and ensure that there is a cohesive team, all working in the same direction, willing and able to share new ideas and try new ways to solve future problems.
Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion at MAG
Working to equitably reflect the community they serve, for the MAG team, “Representation Matters” – this declaration is “a reminder of the key objectives of our work: who are the artists represented in our galleries, and what images are represented in their art? Who represents MAG on our staff, among our Docents, and on our Board leadership? Who represents our audience? Are we fairly reflecting the people and communities who represent our city, our region, our nation, our world?” Please see this dashboard (https://mag.rochester.edu/about/working-to-equitably-reflect/) to learn more about ongoing work MAG has been doing to advance DEAI.
MAG’s consistent attention to DEAI over decades of community outreach, and with more recent successes in advancing its mission to more segments of the population, has led to an expansion and diversification of its audience and further connect with city of Rochester (youth and adults). MAG’s popular MAGsocial and MAGconnect programming, for example, are introducing the museum to new generations and demographics of visitors and are helping to eliminate barriers to visitation with free annual family memberships for qualified individuals.
Several other creative and innovative programs take place at MAG. Among them are the popular, community-partner-organized, and free Celebration Days that highlight diverse cultures and feature, for example, African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, and Pride themes.
The annual Halloween party, Museum of the Dead, and regularly offered DeTours are fun, alternative ways to explore MAG’s art offerings and they regularly sell out. Art and Observation, developed in coordination with the University of Rochester’s Medical School, uses MAG’s permanent collection to help develop the diagnostic skills of medical students. The Expanded Learning Collaboration with Rochester City School District brings more than 550 elementary students to MAG on weekly visits over a four-week period to enable deep engagement with the museum and its Creative Workshop (Rochester’s community art school), helping to improve educational and behavioral outcomes for participating elementary students and to positively affect the culture of their schools.
About Memorial Art Gallery
MAG was founded in 1913 by Emily S. Watson as a memorial to her son James George Averell. She stipulated that the museum serve the entire Rochester community. Seeking a responsible agent, she appointed the University of Rochester as trustee and looked to the community to support the museum and build the collections – a unique relationship that extends to this day.
MAG’s original building, a Renaissance style “jewel box,” opened to the public in 1913. The museum expanded in 1926 with a basilica-style Fountain Court flanked by side galleries that now permanently houses, among many art historical treasures, the only vintage Italian baroque organ in the United States, which is played regularly by students and faculty of the University of Rochester’s renowned Eastman School of Music. There was a third addition in 1968 and, in 1986, the museum added a new entrance pavilion that connected to Cutler Union, the collegiate gothic building that anchored the University’s former women’s college, which now contains the museum’s administrative offices and several flexible event and meeting spaces. MAG includes a restaurant, retail shop, library, conference facilities, a 300-seat auditorium, and the Creative Workshop, a community art school, within 106,000 square feet of interior space.
In 2013, the ten-acre Centennial Sculpture Park opened with major sculptural commissions from Tom Otterness and Jackie Ferrara, and internationally recognized Rochester-based artists Albert Paley and Wendell Castle, as well as works by Deborah Butterfield, Beverly Pepper, George Rickey, and Tony Smith. In spring 2023, a major expansion of this Park will be unveiled to complete the museum’s frontage along University Avenue in the vibrant Neighborhood of the Arts. The expansion is anchored by renowned artist Rashid Johnson’s first permanent outdoor public work of art, a 90-foot-long, 10-foot-high curved wall featuring mosaics of his iconic “anxious crowd” and “broken men” motifs. Other new additions to the Sculpture Park include works by Sanford Biggers, Pia Camil, Tony Cragg, Jun Kaneko, and Nathan Mabry. The Park seamlessly connects MAG with its surrounding neighborhoods, including the adjacent School of the Arts, Rochester City School District’s magnet high school for the arts, and warmly welcomes visitors, free of charge, 365 days a year.
Exhibitions in earlier years consisted of loans from the private collections of George Eastman and other prominent Rochester families. Today the permanent collection includes more than 13,000 works of art, about half of which are works on paper. It is strong in European and American art, with outstanding works by Georges Braque, Gustave Courbet, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, El Greco, Angelica Kauffmann, Claude Monet, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, as well as Elizabeth Catlett, Stuart Davis, Winslow Homer, Yayoi Kusama, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Kehinde Wiley, and numerous others.
In the past eight years, the modern and contemporary program and art collection have grown dramatically, with a recent gift of $4 million, the largest gift in MAG’s history, to permanently endow the Curator of Contemporary Art position and to further support the contemporary art program. Recent acquisitions in this regard include important works by John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres, Gil Batle, Nick Cave, George Condo, Beauford Delaney, Mel Edwards, Jacob El Hanani, Wayne Higby, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Sky Hopinka, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Sol Lewitt, Hung Liu, Josiah McElheny, Grayson Perry, Wendy Red Star, and Mickalene Thomas.
MAG’s acquisitions have been accompanied by a robust exhibition program, including Monet’s Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process, The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter ‘s Stained Glass, which traveled nationally, and Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster, a collaboration with the UR’s River Campus Libraries, which featured 165 posters from the Libraries’ collection of more than 8,000 AIDS education posters, possibly the largest collection of its kind in the world. Moreover, numerous project-scale exhibitions, commissions, and installations have contributed to a lively program that engages a broad diversity of guests and audiences.
An evolving docent program provides tours for students that are tailored to fit specific class and curricula needs. The Creative Workshop, Rochester’s community art school, serves 3,000 people annually and of all ages. MAG also offers a variety of lectures, concerts, and events during the day and on Thursday evenings.
The Gallery Council, a group of 300 committed and dedicated volunteers, sponsor several very popular programs, including the Art and Treasures sale and the fall Fine Craft Show and Sale. Funds raised from these ambitious events go toward a variety of initiatives, including acquisitions, art conservation, student scholarships, exhibition support, and capital and operating support.
Rochester combines small-town accessibility with big-city services. Amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, residents enjoy a housing market known for great bargains, short commute times, world-class cultural and entertainment offerings, and a fast-growing innovation economy poised to thrive in the 21st century.
Rochester’s economy benefits from many advantages, including an ample supply of fresh water from Lake Ontario and the pristine Finger Lakes, a central location among the population centers of the Northeastern United States and the innovative foundations laid by such firms as Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb. A host of colleges and universities, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, produce an educated workforce and generates cutting-edge research that drives the city’s innovation and technology sectors. Rochester is emerging as the imaging, optics, and photonics capital of the world and in 2015 the White House announced that the new Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation would be located in Rochester. Other growing industries include food-and-beverage manufacturing, biotechnology and green innovation.
A unique blend of natural and man-made resources and amenities give Rochester a quality of life that is second to none. Straddling the Genesee River between the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario, Rochester offers a natural beauty that is easily accessible by a network of parks, trails, boat launches and scenic overlooks. The city is divided into dozens of distinct neighborhoods and urban villages supported by an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants. Quality housing available at reasonable prices, well-paying jobs, quality school districts, and a transportation system that minimizes traffic congestion combine to make Rochester an easy place to enjoy a comfortable work-life balance. The city’s central location in Western New York provides residents a short drive to such destinations as the Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes region and the Adirondack Mountains.
Rochester offers a host of cultural attractions, entertainment options, and events for just about every interest and pastime, including classical music, professional sports, and music and arts festivals. Geva Theater Center, Rochester’s leading professional theater, is the most attended regional theater in the Northeast US. The Eastman Museum and Eastman School of Music (also affiliated with the UR) are down the street from MAG. Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre hosts the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the headline acts during the annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. The city’s rich history as a center for civil rights and social justice remains an important element of Rochester’s legacy and a continues to draw visitors to such places as the Mount Hope Cemetery, the final resting place of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. The Strong National Museum of Play is home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and the annual Lilac Festival harkens Rochester’s early history as the Flower City. Rochester is also home to many professional minor-league sports teams including the Americans (ice hockey), Red Wings (baseball).
For more reasons to love Rochester, click https://www.roccitynews.com/life/28-reasons-we-love-rochester-one-for-every-day-of-the-month-of-love-15675880.
While it is understood that no one candidate will bring every desired skill, characteristic, and experience, the following offers a reflection of the ideal candidate profile.
Top candidates will possess an energetic and entrepreneurial leadership style with a passion for art as well as strong managerial experience. The director will have a solid art history background, be creative in their approach to art museums, and be considered by their peers in the museum world to be a credible, well-regarded colleague. They will be able to shape and articulate a strategic vision for MAG and possess superb skills in fundraising, financial management, audience development, and as a decision-maker. The director must be willing and able to serve as the organization’s spokesperson to all constituencies, both external and internal, increasing awareness of MAG by clearly articulating the museum’s ambitious goals and programs. They will be a bold thinker with a resourceful bent and a sense of humor, willing and able to bring ideas to the MAG while being appreciative of the museum’s history and long-standing role in the community earned over many years.
Education: An advanced degree in art or art history, museum education, arts management, or other relevant field or research area is preferred; deep professional and leadership experience in a comparable setting will also be seriously considered.
The next Director of the Memorial Art Gallery will also demonstrate the following professional and personal qualities and characteristics:
Strategic and Visionary Leadership
Seven to ten years of increasing responsibility in a museum of significant size with the past three to five years in a senior management position. A collaborative leader with high EQ (emotional intelligence) who has been successful working with a range of constituents to define and refine long-term institutional goals, creating and executing new strategic plans. Genuine and broad intellectual interests and openness to new ideas, thinking, perspectives, and experiences, with the ability to serve as an effective thought leader in weaving these concepts directly into the work of an institution.
Passion for the Mission
Deep personal interest in art with a nuanced appreciation for the evolving role of museums, and an active voice as part of this conversation. Knowledge of and commitment to art history and museums. A high level of enthusiasm for art and its role, purpose, and opportunities in today’s world, and a desire to engage the community with and through art.
Operational Excellence and Financial Management
Expertise in the principal functions of art museums and best practices in the field. Experience leading teams effectively (including “managing by influence”). Knowledge of and experience with the funding models and strategies of multifaceted cultural institutions, including private as well as public funding. A strong record of successful oversight and management of finance and operations, with the perspective to consider the impact of decisions and make sound recommendations.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion
Genuine belief in and abiding commitment to the values of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. Experience and success in advancing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work in an organization or community context. Ideally the next director will have material prior experience in DEAI work.
Authentic Spokesperson and Adept Relationship Builder
An engaging, credible, and persuasive spokesperson to a range of external audiences locally, nationally, and beyond, underscoring the role of art and culture to these communities and across the field of art museums generally. A person drawn to the opportunity for dialogue, conversation, and communication with others. An active and sensitive listener with excellent written and verbal communication skills. Facility connecting genuinely with audiences of varying levels of expertise, as well as the ability to plan and execute a successful marketing and communications strategy to elevate the profile of the MAG.
An Effective Friend- and Fundraiser
A commitment to building bridges and partnerships, with experience in working with other community-wide cultural and educational institutions. Enthusiastic about the opportunity to partner with university administration, faculty, and students. With personal and professional integrity of the highest degree, great comfort level operating in the public arena which includes valuing outward engagement, being at ease with people, and accepting the public demands made upon a leader with visibility in the community. Understanding of fundraising principles and strategy with experience building philanthropic relationships. Able to provide high-touch engagement with a range of constituents. Capable of cultivating major gifts from individual donors and stewarding significant past and current donors, while also identifying and connecting with potential supporters.
Culture Champion and Staff Leadership
Foster a positive working environment for the entire organization, enriching staff morale, and advancing an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual support among all staff. A person who encourages the engagement, growth, and achievement of others as an aspect of their leadership. Results-oriented with a collegial and collaborative working style.
Compensation & Benefits
The salary range for this role is between $200,000 – $250,000. Compensation includes an excellent benefits package and is commensurate with experience.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Naree W.S. Viner and Stephen Milbauer of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials https://apptrkr.com/4207181, or email Naree or Stephen directly at https://tinyurl.com/hcvb3mmf. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email https://tinyurl.com/2xf3f73n. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.
The Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/koya-partners/
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