Museum Director – Cafesjian Art Trust, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

The Cafesjian Art Trust of Minneapolis, a private foundation, seeks a broadly knowledgeable art museum professional to join its leadership team in the creation of a new museum featuring studio art glass. Established by philanthropist and collector Gerard Cafesjian, the Trust stewards some 2,700 pieces of studio art glass and related artworks, and has begun the process of creating a museum as he intended. Trust leadership will welcome someone with the training and experience to advise on the planning of the facility; oversee transfer of the collection and its organization in new storage; ensure updating of the catalog; and put in place the staff and operation of a high-functioning small art museum.

The leadership has a vision of “a little gem,” a beautiful, exciting place where people enjoy displays of art glass and educational and social events. The museum will pursue a quintessential collection of studio art glass, building on the strong start that its current holdings comprise, offering changing exhibitions on site and lending pieces for display in other museums.


  • Get in on the ground floor, playing a key part in creating a new art museum with a solid collection and secure funding, and helping shape its collection.
  • Work with international art and a range of stimulating startup challenges.
  • Be part of a compatible, enthusiastic team in an organization with a history of loyalty to and support of staff members.
  • Enjoy a diverse, active regional arts community with many potential colleagues and partner institutions.
  • Evaluate and refine the collection and help create a plan for its further development.
  • Live in an urban area rich in cultural and educational resources with easy access to outdoor recreation.


  • An ambitious timeline for moving into a new museum building and establishing operations.
  • Trust leadership, with expertise in the law and finances, is aware of its inexperience with professional museum operations and standards. They have an attractive vision but need advice from a knowledgeable, collaborative museum expert.
  • Collection software and records need to be updated; and work has begun.

About the Cafesjian Art Trust

The Cafesjian Art Trust (the Trust) is one of three trusts established by Gerard Cafesjian to fulfill his charitable interests, one of which was to establish a museum in the Twin Cities area for his collection of studio art glass. Mr. Cafesjian died in 2013. His estate and the charitable trusts were initially tied up in audits but are now settled. A scholarly curator managed his art collection until the curator’s death in 2020. The 2,700 pieces that will constitute the starting collection of the new museum include studio glass by international artists, some in depth, including works by Dale Chihuly, Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtová; and contemporary artwork by Arshile Gorky, Victor Vasarely, and Georges Braque. The Trust holds sufficient funds to support much of the new museum’s operation, providing fiscal stability.

All glass pieces pictured are from the Trust Collection.

There is an evolving vision for the new museum. Trustee leadership recognizes their need for a colleague well versed in art museum management. Their current concept encompasses small exhibitions in-house, with group tours and educational programs engaging area schools, colleges, and artists. An early focus will be on building relationships with other museums to which the Trust will lend pieces for temporary exhibitions. The Trust leadership anticipates some culling and future additions in the interest of building a definitive collection of studio art glass.

The Trust recently acquired a building that previously served as headquarters of a large engineering firm, located in Shoreview, a suburb of Minneapolis, near a main road and adjacent to a future restaurant. Plans by an architectural firm are in late stages and include ample storage, 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, offices, meeting space, and a catering kitchen. The building will have all new museum-quality HVAC, interior features, roof, and landscaping. The current expectation is for completion in May 2022.

Another of Mr. Cafesjian’s trusts funds a museum in Armenia. The Cafesjian Art Trust leadership stays in regular contact with that museum and has an advisory role.

The Trustee is an heir of Mr. Cafesjian. The Trust’s staff consists of a CFO, an accountant who worked for legal and real estate firms before coming to the Trust; warehouse managers in Minnesota and Florida supervising processing of crated artworks; an art mover who worked with the previous curator in the Twin Cities warehouse; and a technical specialist who works remotely on the collections catalogue, using TMS software.

The Cafesjian family has a history of loyalty to effective employees, several of whom have had long tenures. The Trust has been moving deliberately during the protracted audit without a long-term plan. Now it is eager to ramp up its efforts, refining and realizing its plans in collaboration with an art museum leader.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will have a comprehensive grasp of art museum operations with a solid grounding in curatorial practices. They may be a former art curator who became a director of a small to mid-size art museum, or a curator who has run a department in a larger art museum with a substantial budget and supervisory responsibilities, and who has served successfully on an institutional leadership team. This person has a passion for and broad knowledge of art, ideally including studio art glass, with discriminating taste. They embrace the vision of a small but impactful museum and are not afraid to work hands-on when necessary. They are adept with technology, organized, and detail oriented.

The successful candidate will enjoy being part of a small, collegial team. Developing strong working relationships will be essential. They will provide needed museum expertise while keeping an open mind for the ideas and perspectives of the Trustee, the CFO, and current collections processing staff. A good listener, this person will be patient and skilled at finding consensus rather than pursuing a strictly personal vision.


  • Join the leadership team and contribute museum expertise to the advanced stages of planning and creation of a new museum.
  • Oversee moving of collections into new storage and exhibition spaces, organizing storage for ready access.
  • Develop operational plans for the museum, including paid and volunteer staff, for approval by the Trust leadership. Put the approved plans into effect.
  • Oversee development of an effective marketing program, including a web presence and social media.
  • Propose policies regarding all aspects of management of this new museum for approval by the Trust leadership.
  • Plan/oversee installation of the first exhibition in the new facility’s gallery.
  • Work with Trust leadership to create a strategic plan for the museum.
  • Oversee development of a long-range collections plan, including refining the extensive existing collection.
  • Develop productive working relationships with colleagues at other art museums and cultural organizations to spread awareness of the collection and promote loans and temporary exhibitions at other venues.


  • An MA in art museum studies, modern art history, or a similar field, with at least five years in a management position, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Expertise in art; knowledge of studio art glass or willingness to learn about it.
  • Thorough knowledge of curatorial standards and practices in an art museum; experience in an advanced curatorial position preferred.
  • Experience leading a curatorial department or directing an art museum preferred, especially experience providing a holistic understanding of museum management.
  • Project management skills for moving, organizing, and cataloguing collections.
  • Demonstrated skills as a team leader with a record of successful collaboration.
  • Some experience with facility development is advantageous.
  • Willingness and ability to act as the public face of an organization.
  • A record of skillful, successful fiscal management of a museum or department sufficient to help manage, with the CFO, a new museum with a budget of roughly $2 million.
  • Familiarity with TMS collections software advantageous.

Salary range: $120,000 – $130,000

Nominations welcome.
Apply in confidence: Email cover letter, résumé́ or CV (Word documents preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by October 4, 2021, to retained search firm: Scott Stevens, Senior Search Consultant, Museum Search & Reference at: References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant. EA/EO employer.

About the Region

Minneapolis, St. Paul, and their surrounding suburbs comprise an urban area known for its quality of life, particularly regarding culture, education, and health care. It offers the livability of smaller cities with many advantages of larger ones. The area public schools have good reputations, and there are numerous colleges and universities. Residents can be in a world-class art museum, enjoy a theatrical performance or a fine restaurant, or be in the countryside within a 40-minute drive from home.

On land originally inhabited by Ojibwe and Dakota indigenous groups, the cities were settled by many groups of Europeans. Scandinavians and Lutherans predominated in Minneapolis while French, Irish, and German Catholics emigrated to Saint Paul. Today, the cities are home to large immigrant communities, including Somali, Hmong, Oromo, and Liberians.

The Twin Cities support a robust scene of arts and cultural programming, and are home to numerous prestigious institutions, including the encyclopedic Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center and its sculpture garden (pictured above), the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Museum of Art at UMN, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Guthrie Theater, and the University of Minnesota.  Minneapolis is also known as an important music hub for alternative music – folk, funk, hip hop, and rap. Restaurants offer international and multi-ethnic fare, and Minneapolisis home to a thriving festival tradition, including the Minnesota Craft Beer Festival and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is an annual event featuring theater, dance, improvisation, puppetry, visual art, and musicals. The country’s oldest sketch and improvisational comedy theater, the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theater, is in Minneapolis.

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will find much to celebrate in Minneapolis, where “you are never more than 6 blocks from a park,” and where you can find waterways, lakes, waterfalls, and scenic walking/biking paths. The cold winters provide plenty of outdoor winter sports, including skating, ice fishing, hockey, and skiing [cross-country and downhill].  For sports fans, the Twin Cities offer major-league teams: the football Vikings, baseball Twins, hockey Wild, basketball Timberwolves and four-time WNBA champion Lynx, and men’s and women’s professional soccer teams. 

The Twin Cities support a thriving business community, which includes the headquarters of many global and national businesses, including 3M, Cargill, Ecolab, UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy, Medtronic, and General Mills, among others. Medicine is a major industry in the region, with research in the universities, and major medical device manufacturers, including Medtronic. Technical innovators have brought important advances in computing.

About Minnesota

Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” is a prosperous state with a well-diversified economy. It has the second-highest proportion of high school graduates (91%), as well as a progressive income tax structure, and one of the most welcoming refugee/new immigrant policies in the US. Minnesota welcomes 70 million visitors annually, and the state is a vacation destination for cultural tourists as well as outdoor enthusiasts, offering swimming, boating, hiking and biking, fishing, and hunting; and in winter, ice fishing, skiing, and winter sports. The state supports a network of public universities and colleges and more than 20 private colleges. The population in 2010 was approximately 5.3 million people, with nearly 60% living in the Twin Cities. 

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