Posted July 15, 2014

The Columbus Museum, an American art and regional-history museum and one of the largest museums in the Southeast, seeks a Director to lead a healthy, stable, debt-free institution to the next level. The current Director will retire after 20 years, having successfully built the art collection and establishing an outstanding national reputation for the Museum. The Museum has an operating budget of $2.7 million, 34 staff (29 FT), 42% of its budget from the Muscogee County School District, and endowments totaling $28 million. It is AAM-accredited and an AAMD member. It has an impressive collection of American art and decorative arts, complemented by an extensive history collection. Visit


The new Director will arrive at an opportune time. Building on past accomplishments, he/she will oversee the implementation of a recently completed Strategic Plan. The Plan calls for fostering increased community engagement and updating and expanding the Museum’s offerings; and the new Director will add input and refine the Plan. He/she can also play a role in civic leadership and regional cultural development at a moment when the city’s downtown is in a renaissance. This is a unique opportunity for an energetic leader to rapidly make a mark and leave a legacy in the first 5-7 years.

The Strategic Plan calls for the Director to reach out and further engage and serve the local community — through partnerships, marketing, and new programming. He/she will expand audiences, especially to include new generations and nontraditional constituencies. Further, plans call for greater balance between the art and history collections with more integration of the two, so that, for example, regional history becomes an accessible gateway to learning about art. Strategies will involve reinstallation of galleries, new and engaging permanent-collection interpretations, new uses of the Bradley Olmsted Garden, and buzz-generating special exhibitions and events. Educational programs will be made even more relevant to school groups and adults, and new programs are planned. The Director will maintain and expand operating and capital support, primarily by cultivating philanthropists and corporations; and will inspire the professional staff. View the Strategic Plan at:


The Director is the chief executive officer and administrative head of the Museum and is responsible to the Museum Corporate Board for the operation of the Museum and its programs. He/she also keeps the Muscogee County Board of Education apprised of services and needs. The Director is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Museum, including leadership, strategic planning, policy development, personnel management, exhibitions and collections, professional standards, educational programs, finance and budgeting, marketing and outreach, facilities maintenance, operations, fundraising, liaising with the board, and representing the museum externally locally and nationally. The Director will be offered a competitive salary, contingent upon experience, and a very generous Muscogee County School District benefits package.

Job Requirements

The position requires a combination of strong professional credentials and the skills for successful community outreach and fundraising. To qualify, applicants should present most of the following experience and skills:

Leadership and museum-management experience, skills, and credentials.
Ability and enthusiasm to lead a mid-sized museum where the Director works on a variety of fronts and wears multiple hats.
Minimum of 10 years of museum experience, including managing staff, working with and engaging boards, and collaborating with external partners.
Experience as a museum director, deputy director, or department head preferred.
Experience and ability to lead and motivate staff.
Can unite staff into a team, and structure and align staff to best implement the Strategic Plan.
Managerial style to empower and be accessible to staff.
Capability and experience to work well with a variety of stakeholders, including School District officials, civic leaders, cultural partners, and museum members and volunteers.
Strong organizational and communication skills.
Knowledge of museum standards, best practices, and trends.
Inspirational and motivational leader to serve as the public face of the Museum in the community.
An energetic “salesperson” to serve as the Museum’s ambassador and advocate for the museum to all constituencies.
Collaborative, diplomatic, positive person.
Accessible, welcoming, gracious, sincere, and sociable person, with a personality compatible with a hospitable and friendly Southern city.
Vibrant, engaging public speaker.
Enthusiastic about educating the public about art and history.
Wants to play a civic-leadership role in the ongoing and successful revitalization of the city and its rapid growth in cultural offerings.
Experience working with or for municipal or county officials is an asset.
Deep expertise in American art, especially 19th-20thcentury art and decorative arts, along with knowledge of and interest in American history.
Master’s Degree or equivalent, preferably in American art and decorative arts or American Studies, or a closely related degree in one of the focal areas of the collections.
Enthusiasm for the broad mission and for engaging the public in American art and history. Has ideas about how to integrate art and history.
Can communicate the excitement and relevance of collections and exhibitions.
Expertise to converse with collectors and artists about American arts, both historic and post-1945.
Curatorial and connoisseurship achievements, such as exhibitions and acquisitions, are desirable.
Expertise and interest in Southern history, art, or decorative arts is a plus.
Record of fostering creativity and innovation in programming.
“Gentle” change agent — open to new ideas and willing to take sensible risks, but also respectful of tradition.
Receptive to incorporating new technologies as appropriate in marketing, education programs, exhibitions, and interpretation of collections.
Record of fundraising success, particularly the demonstrated ability to reach out to, inspire, cultivate, listen to, and build relationships with donors and collectors.
Experience with both stewarding existing donors and building new relationships with individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Experience advocating to government agencies for funding is a plus.
Exposure to planned giving and major gifts is a plus.
Expertise, flair, skills, and desire to rebrand and market the Museum to a broader, more diverse audience, beyond the Museum’s traditional audiences, to better reflect the population profile of the region.
Ability to attract a younger audience — new generations of visitors, members, volunteers, donors, and board members.
Capability to reach out to, for example, the military personnel at Fort Benning and the medical community.
Experience at a museum with free admission is a plus.
Good business and fiscal manager.
With the COO and Finance Committee, able to create and monitor operating and capital budgets.
Ability to interpret and strategically use financial reports.
Familiar with ways to increase earned income at museums.
Desire to live in a cosmopolitan and friendly medium-sized city in the Southeast.
Enjoys a small-town feel, where you run into people you know around town.
Civic booster who will embrace the museum, city, and state.
Plans to stay in the position for at least 5 years.
Position offers the chance to make a major impact in 5 – 7 years and to maintain excitement over a longer tenure as well.

Nominations welcome.

Apply in confidence: Email cover letter, résumé (Word document preferred), salary requirement, and names of 3 references with contact information by August 17, 2014 (end of day) to retained search firm: Marilyn Hoffman, Museum Search & Reference, EOE/AA/ADA. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.


The Columbus Museum, opened in 1953, is one of the largest museums in the Southeast. It is notable for its dual concentration in American art and regional history, as displayed in its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions and interpreted through educational programs. The Museum is unique in being a part of the Muscogee County School District and also supported by a nonprofit “Corporation.” It receives 42% of its operating support from the School District, but also raises private money for additional staff, programs, acquisitions, and endowments. The School District owns and maintains the building, while the collection and endowment are held by the Corporation. Admission is always free.

In 1989, a major expansion created a world-class facility of 89,000 square feet, including an interactive children’s gallery, a 300-seat auditorium, and a large atrium for special events. Galleries showcase both permanent and temporary exhibitions on American art and regional history, while a multimedia theater offers a film exploring the history and culture of the region. Visitors also enjoy the Bradley Olmsted Garden, designed in the 1920s by the Olmsted Brothers firm, founded by Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Columbus Museum’s American art collection encompasses colonial times to the present and includes paintings by Charles Wilson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Sanford Gifford, John Twachtman, Robert Henri, John Sloan, and Robert Motherwell; sculpture by Thomas Eakins and Louise Nevelson, and a renowned collection of American master drawings by Benjamin West, Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, as well as George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Isamu Noguchi, Milton Avery, and Philip Pearlstein. The print collection includes Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol as well as photographers. The decorative arts collection is especially strong in furniture (from a colonial desk to an Eames chair), and the historical collections begin with archaeological and Native artifacts and tell the story of the region’s history through today. The American art and the drawings collections have been published in two books.


The Museum offers a wide range of programs and special events for children and families, school groups, and adult audiences, including lectures, tours, films, and performances; summer camps and hands-on activities; and a hands-on interactive children’s gallery called Transformations that is currently being renovated.


Enjoy a beautiful and historic riverfront city with a lively downtown, which is called “Uptown.” With a population of 204,000, Columbus is the second largest city in Georgia and is known for civic leadership and philanthropy. Over the past 10 years, companies such as Aflac, TSYS, NCR, Pratt & Whitney, W.C. Bradley, and Synovus Bank have invested almost $3.5 billion in the region and created over 20,000 jobs. Columbus is located 1.5 hours south of Atlanta’s international airport, 2.5 hours from Birmingham, AL, and 1.3 hours from Montgomery. The city was rated one of “The Top 100 Best Places to Live” In 2014 by, and was #4 on the 2007 “100 Best Places to Raise a Family” list of Best Life Magazine.

Columbus offers a full array of cultural, recreational, and educational amenities year-round. The arts colleges on Columbus State University’s uptown campus amplify the offerings of the city’s museums and theaters, including the River Center for the Performing Arts and the State (Springer) Theater. Enjoy restaurants and brew-pubs, art galleries, and white-water rafting on the Chattahoochee River (class 4 rapids). Bike or jog on the 15-mile Riverwalk, and swim at the Natatorium. Sports teams include professional ice hockey and indoor football. Columbus is a golf and tennis haven and boasts the largest clay-court public tennis facility in the US and thousands of players. The School District has excellent schools, including outstanding magnet schools and the national baccalaureate program. Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 active-duty military and civilians, and nearby hills offer exceptional beauty and recreation.

Columbus’s friendly, hospitable people, the ease of living (bike to work or live in a loft uptown), the reasonable cost of housing, and its Sunbelt climate attract many young professionals and retirees. Visit: and

Contact Person: Marilyn Hoffman
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