The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University creates direct experiences with art and catalyzes interdisciplinary learning, opening new doors to lifelong inquiry and exploration. The Johnson Museum welcomes visitors to experience original works of art across a wide spectrum of global traditions, time periods, and media for education, inspiration, and delight, connecting to the vibrant intellectual and cultural life of Cornell University and a public audience through exhibitions, programs, teaching, and research, with free admission for all.
The Role The Director will provide strategic and collaborative leadership and vision, curatorial oversight, effective management, and academic inspiration to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. In the daily operations of the Museum, the Director will ensure the institution's mission is clearly understood, that its strategic objectives are fully articulated and effectively pursued, and that Cornell faculty and students, as well as the broader Finger Lakes community, see and utilize the Museum as a vital learning resource. The Director has primary responsibility for all aspects of the Museum's operation and management, including fiscal and personnel management, as well as for raising funds to support the Museum.
The Director sets the artistic direction, exhibition strategy, educational approach, and acquisition plans for the Museum. They serve as an advocate for the knowledge that can be gained from the direct study of and engagement with works of art and material culture. They are responsible for the management and development of the University's collection, and for driving the acquisition of new objects. The Director works with staff to implement appropriate policies governing the conservation, documentation, security, and storage of, as well as physical and digital access to the collection. Across all aspects of the Museum's work, the Director will cultivate a culture of inclusion and proactively foster opportunities for engagement with and expression of diverse identities, perspectives and creative practices.
As an indispensable leader for the arts on campus and beyond, the Director reports to the Deputy Provost of Cornell University, and works closely with the Johnson Museum Advisory Council. In collaboration with academic and administrative departments on campus, the Director proactively engages students through teaching and exhibition and related programming. They also represent the Museum to various external constituencies, including faculty and students, alumni and friends of the arts at Cornell, public audiences throughout region and across the country, and the museum profession at large.
Candidate Profile The successful candidate will embrace the Cornell and Ithaca communities professionally and personally, enjoying the opportunity to live in such a robust and stimulating regional setting. They will drive the Museum forward, asserting its regional and national identity and individuality. The new Director will lead the Johnson Museum with vision, courage and enthusiasm. This individual will bring an entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new, innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within the field.
The successful candidate will be an inspiring, energetic, and collaborative leader who fully embraces the Johnson Museum's contribution to the educational mission of Cornell University through its exhibitions, programming, research, and engagement with curricular and extra-curricular initiatives. They should exemplify a dedication to learning, a passion for the arts, and a combination of intellectual curiosity and depth. They should exhibit a thorough knowledge of art history and the ability to lead, collaborate with, and motivate a diverse community and team of curators. They will have a record of respected intellectual achievement, with demonstrable success cultivating relationships with, and building bridges among, diverse constituencies. The candidate should be an articulate, dynamic, and effective communicator in person, in print, and through exhibitions.
The candidate should have a Master's Degree with significant (7-10 years) museum experience (or equivalent combination of education and experience), including with curatorial practice and exhibition planning, education programming, operations, fundraising, public relations and/or marketing, and budget management. They should possess experience in setting direction as well as developing and implementing strategic initiatives within an organization, in addition to a track record of successful fundraising. The candidate will be able to establish credibility with the faculty and relate intellectually with a wide range of disciplines in rich and layered exchange. They will work closely with the Johnson Museum Advisory Council, as well as with the Office of the Provost and other key administrators across campus.
Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search and prospective candidates are invited to contact Russell Reynolds Associates directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. For more information or to apply for the role, please reach out to JohnsonMuseum@russellreynolds.com. All applications should include a resume and cover letter.
No visa sponsorship provided for this position.
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