The Portland Museum of Art (PMA), with its extensive collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, is the cultural heart of Portland, Maine. Its mission is to engage audiences in a dialogue about the relevance of art and culture to our everyday lives. The PMA seeks an innovative Director of Learning and Interpretation (DLI) to create and implement a new vision for the Department of Learning and Interpretation (L & I) as the PMA fundamentally changes the way the public interacts with the Museum, its collection, and its programs. The DLI will oversee a department that is part of the Museum’s Art and Education Division and manage a budget of $200,000 and a staff of four, a docent corps of close to 50, and part-time interns. The position reports to the Deputy Director/Chief Curator.
Strengths of the PMA collection include American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine that highlight the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists. In addition to the main facility in downtown Portland, the PMA owns and interprets Winslow Homer’s oceanfront studio in Prout’s Neck, about 25 minutes south of Portland. The PMA welcomes 140,000 visitors annually, including 8,000 schoolchildren, many from the city’s public schools. It currently offers a range of learning opportunities to visitors of all ages. The new DLI is invited to think creatively about expanding interpretive and programming opportunities in the Museum and in the community.
Opportunities of the Position
Be a part of an organization that is transforming the way it interacts with the public.
o Take the lead in reinventing, reimagining, and growing the Department of Learning and Interpretation to align with the PMA’s mission. Create a vision for the department and work with a dedicated team to make it a reality.
o Work with curators to develop and refine interpretive plans for the permanent collection and the permanent collection and special exhibitions that offer visitors new and different entry points for engaging with art.
o With colleagues in the Visitor Experience department, develop creative ways to proactively reach non-traditional audiences and develop new approaches for them to engage with the collection.
o Serve as an ambassador to Portland’s diverse communities to create partnerships that meet the needs of visitors and the PMA.
Make a positive difference for the Museum and for the community that embraces it.
Work in an environment where new ideas are welcomed and communication across departments is open and collegial.
Live and work in a vibrant coastal New England city that loves its museums. Portland has a lively cultural scene, a historic working waterfront, a variety of architecture, diverse neighborhoods, and easy access to both Boston and the wilderness areas of northern New England.
Essential Job Functions
Oversee all aspects of the PMA's Learning and Interpretation program, from vision to implementation.
Establish and communicate educational philosophy and methodologies, ensuring both become key components of institutional identity and culture. Serve as a passionate advocate for that vision within the museum and the community.
Articulate and sustain an institution-wide interpretive program that offers coherent and intellectually engaging content for audiences at all levels, with the explicit goal of deepening visitors’ experiences with art.
Foster integration of L & I “brick and mortar” programs with new technologies.
Lead programmatic initiatives related to the PMA’s inclusivity and diversity action plan, designed to promote inclusiveness, prevent discrimination, and challenge and change practices that present barriers.
In collaboration with other departments, create and implement interpretive programs and in-gallery experiences for special exhibitions, permanent collection installations, and the Winslow Homer Studio to foster direct dialogue and connections between the collection and diverse audiences.
Develop and manage L & I budget.
Develop and maintain systems for program evaluations.
Lead and inspire a team of motivated and dedicated staff, volunteers, and interns.
Work collaboratively with other departments to advance the PMA’s overall mission and vision.
Serve as internal staff liaison for all L & I matters at Board-level committee meetings.
Work collaboratively with Philanthropy staff to identify funding opportunities, cultivate potential prospects, formulate strategies, and assist with grant applications and reporting.
Foster relationships and build philanthropy with patrons by displaying behavior that welcomes all individuals.
Work with colleagues in other departments to create and supervise a new museum-wide internship program.
Actively participate in professional and community activities to strengthen connections and promote the PMA’s educational mission.
Master’s Degree in Museum Studies, Museum Education, or Art History, with at least five years experience in a leadership position in art museums.
Working knowledge of broad areas of art history. Knowledge of or interest in American art, 19 th -century European art, or contemporary art preferred.
Enthusiasm for exploring the concept of what an art museum can be in the 21st century.
o A desire to make PMA and its programs more inclusive and reflective of Portland’s diversity.
o Being open to new ways of interpreting the collection and identifying new entry points for visitors to interact with the museum and collections.
o Track record of engaging and welcoming new audiences through community outreach and the development of new and creative interpretation and educational programs.
o Familiarity with current trends, issues, and best practices in museum education and interpretation.
o Working knowledge of emerging digital technologies, including innovations in in-gallery technology use.
Creative skills to envision an expanded role for the L & I department and the administrative skills to lead the implementation of the vision.
Strong written and verbal communication skills; the ability to enthusiastically communicate the department’s and the Museum’s goals to a variety of audiences.
Strong interpersonal skills.
o Track record of successfully managing and inspiring staff, interns, and volunteers.
o Ability to establish, maintain, and foster positive working relationships with a variety of individuals in the Museum and the community.
Excellent organizational, skills; ability to multi-task, wear many hats, and make decisions in a fast-paced environment.
Willingness to take risks, to come up with a new idea, advocate for it, and make it happen.
Desire to work in a team-oriented, non-hierarchical setting with open and informal communication across departments. More concerned with making good ideas happen than with who proposes them.
Willingness to work evening and weekend hours as needed.
More about the Museum
The Portland Museum of Art was founded in 1882 as the Portland Society of Art, making it one of a small number of art museums started by artists. Today the museum’s collections number over 18,000 works housed in three connected architecturally significant buildings in the heart of downtown Portland: an 1801 Federal style mansion, a 1911 Beaux-arts museum building, and a modern museum designed by renowned architect Henry Nichols Cobb and opened in 1983. There are also outdoor gardens and a Sculpture Park.
The PMA is in the third year of a five-year strategic plan that includes bringing together art and learning, public and private partnerships, member and visitor engagement, and diversity and inclusiveness. Many creative projects, programs, and exhibitions are helping the PMA reach these goals.
For additional information, information, visit https://www.portlandmuseum.org.
For more information or to apply, contact Gail Nessell Colglazier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications must include resume, salary requirement, and names/contact information
for three professional references. (Word documents preferred.) Apply by 5/21/18. EOE