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Director of Education and Interpretive Programs [Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art]

Director of Education and Interpretive Programs
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art seeks an experienced arts educator to lead the museum’s education department, shape innovative experiences for students and patrons of all ages, and to engage cross-departmental teams that together design exciting interpretive experiences and public programs for NAMA visitors.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is recognized as one of the world’s finest encyclopedic art museums with more than 33,500 art objects including masterpieces from diverse world cultures spanning 5,000 years of history. Founded in 1933, the museum serves the community by providing access and insight into its renowned art collections, special exhibitions and through various education programs and events. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is: “…dedicated to the enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts and the varied cultures they present. It is committed through its collections and programs to being a vital partner in the educational and cultural life of Kansas City and a preeminent institution both nationally and internationally.”

The Kansas City metropolitan area places great emphasis on both contemporary and classic arts and culture. The Nelson-Atkins stands out among these institutions and museums across the world for its outstanding collections, exhibitions and programming. The museum attracts some 350,000 visitors annually, and is recognized as an important economic engine in the region. It employs 287 professionals, including 33 full-time staff in the Education. There are presently over 100 highly trained and committed docents. The current annual operating budget is approximately $22 million, of which about $2.3 million is allocated to activities related to education and interpretation. NAMA devotes considerable resources to the team’s efforts to create experiences, ideas and information that NAMA visitors enjoy and that enriches their lives. The Education Department is essential in accomplishing the mission of the Nelson-Atkins.

In September of 2010, the museum named Julian Zugazagoitia as its fifth Director and CEO in its 78 year history. Most recently the Director and CEO of El Museo del Barrio in New York, Zugazagoitia is a dynamic leader who enjoys working with curators and children, connoisseurs and students, patrons and donors. His vision is to deliver an exciting array of exhibition and education programming through strong collaborations both internally and externally.

The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs reports to the Director and CEO, and leads the museum-wide effort and vision to develop educational and interpretative programs that create transformative experiences of art and culture for museum visitors. He or she will play a critical role in advancing the museum’s strategy of engaging new audiences, continually improving and refreshing the experience of current visitors and patrons, and in developing approaches that serve as a model for other museums nationally and internationally.

This position requires a hands-on professional who will personally grapple with and resolve issues, acts as an evangelist for arts education, and who encourages others to be equally engaged and supportive. The ideal candidate should have the following experience and qualifications:

* Proven managerial, problem-solving and planning capabilities, along with at least five years of significant leadership experience in education/interpretation within an art museum, or in a relevant field that exposes art to diverse audiences; experience as a curator or in a visual arts setting will be a distinct advantage for this role, as will a passion for conveying the history and world of visual arts and artists to Kansas City’s diverse audiences;

* Knowledge of education best-practices from across various disciplines (not just for the visual arts); understanding of diverse pedagogical approaches to education and art education; familiarity with learning styles and developmental stages; an ability to bring to bear a broad range of educational tools and methods; facility and comfort with both innovative,
personal, and high-touch educational experiences that drives new and refreshed experiences;

* A mature level of judgment and decision-making in a changing, forward-thinking operating and visitor-focused environment; the ability to explain education and interpretation concepts and approaches to people who are not specialists and to engage their support; ability to think critically, work independently and resolve complex problems; a high energy
level; ability to manage multiple activities and responsibilities;

* A record of success in attracting and retaining talented educators; a high degree of patience, attention to detail, good humor and fortitude in managing relationships; demonstrated ability to forge mutually-respectful and effective relationships with a diverse group of personalities;

* Outstanding oral and written communication skills, including the means to address issues in non-confrontational and non-polarizing ways, but nevertheless with determination; a track record as an effective communicator; the presence and credibility to serve as an effective spokesperson for the Nelson-Atkins in matters relating to education and interpretation;

* A track record of participating in professional activities and leadership in the field;

* Experience working with and developing programs for urban youth;

* An advanced degree is preferred.

m/Oppenheim Associates has been retained to assist in this search. For a
complete position description or to submit a resume, please contact Lisa
Grossman at lisag[at]moppenheim[dot]com

Director of Education [The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art]

Please note, the original job description is extremely long and only excerpted below. For complete details, view the PDF available here on the Nelson-Atkins’s website.

The successful candidate will serve as Director of Education and Interpretive Programs and will lead the department’s objective of developing and providing educational and interpretive programs, and initiatives that create transformative and educationally enriching experiences of art and culture for museum visitors.

As head of the Museum’s Education Division, the Director of Education and Interpretive Programs leads departments in Interpretation (including digital media); adult programs; family and youth services; studio programs; school and youth serving organizations; and library services. This leadership includes the oversight of the Museum’s expansive docent and docent-in- training program which is a critical ingredient in our endeavor to create enriching and educational visitor experiences.

The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs will report to and work with the Director and CEO of the Museum. He or she will provide the oversight, strategic leadership, and management expertise for the education division of the museum. The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs will oversee all the education division’s professional staff and programs and, in close partnership with the Director and CEO, will ensure that the museum’s mission is clearly articulated and strategic objectives are collectively agreed upon and attained.

The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs will be expected to create an extensive partnership with all curatorial departments mutually, expressly collaborating efforts in all educational program development. In addition, the incumbent will establish productive working relationships with board members and community partners serving as an advocate for the institution’s education programs internally and externally, assuring that the needs of the Museum are advanced and understood.

The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs is required to manage a wide variety of staff functions, in a rapidly evolving institution. He/she will need to innovate and initiate actions in new media developing interactive programs that consider market changes and the rise of new media as a preferred communications tool.

The Director of Education and Interpretive Programs will exhibit excellent judgment and communications skills while dealing with individuals with widely varying backgrounds and styles.

As a member of the senior leadership group, the Director of Education and Interpretive Programs will be expected to think and plan strategically as well and operationally and to then execute those plans personally and through staff members and others throughout the institution.

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