Posted September 17, 2014

THE INSTITUTIONThe Mission of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is to house and preserve its preeminent collections and to serve a wide variety of people through direct encounters with works of art in a manner that is engaging, varied and accessible.

History and Mission

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876, and today is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world, and one of only two in the United States that runs a degree-granting art school – The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA).

The MFA collection encompasses almost 450,000 works of art currently organized across eight curatorial departments, with renowned strengths in American and European painting and decorative arts, Asian art, and its Egyptian and Nubian collections.

Each year, the Museum welcomes more than one million visitors.  On average, 250,000 people participate in the Museum’s educational programs annually, with about 55,000 schoolchildren and their teachers utilizing the MFA’s resources to complement classroom teachings.  Since its opening on April 17, 1999, the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts has presented more than 30 major exhibitions from the MFA’s collections in Japan.  In addition, another 1.3 million people visit MFA exhibitions on tour each year, and about 4.26 million users access collections and exhibition information online at  

A privately funded institution, the MFA’s annual operating budget of $129 million receives almost no public funds. The Museum benefits from an endowment that stands at $624 million as of June 30, 2014.  The Museum has operated with an annual budget surplus for the past 20 years and expects to be in the black again this year.  On July 1, 2013, the MFA launched a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $200 million over three years to provide additional funds for endowment and programmatic initiatives.  In 2007, the Museum purchased the Forsyth Institute Building adjacent to the Museum, and the present campaign aims to establish a secure financial equilibrium before embarking on a major redevelopment of that building, potentially as a curatorial research and study center.  At the end of the first year of the campaign, $100 million has been raised.


The MFA currently employs 1,045 staff, organized into divisions under four Deputy Directors as follows:  (1) External Relations; (2) Finance; (3) Curatorial, Communications and Visitor Experience; and (4) the School.  The Deputy Directors report to the Director.  The Museum has a Board of 41 voting Trustees, including eight appointed, as well as 54 Honorary Trustees.


Community engagement and accessibility remains a part of the core of the Museum’s mission.  A full slate of exhibitions and programs (lectures, courses, films, concerts and gallery learning) is planned well into 2016.  Also in place are research and analytics-driven communications strategies, using both traditional and social media, to bolster the Museum’s membership program (currently at 67,500 households) and attract more visitors from near and far. Acquisitions, particularly the gifts of art program and an active loan program, drive a great deal of work by the management staff of both the Curatorial and the Conservation & Collections departments.  The galleries will be enhanced by the installation of new technology to strengthen the visitor experience.

The School

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, conceived at the same time as the MFA as a crucial second part of its mission to educate through the arts, was founded in 1876 as a private nonprofit institution of higher education.

While part of the overall corporation, the School has its own governance and management structure, an independent operating budget, and a philanthropic program.  The President reports to the School’s Board of Trustees; as one of the four Deputy Directors of the Museum, the President is a member of the Museum’s management team and, as such, reports to the MFA’s Director.  This arrangement keeps the leadership teams of both organizations informed about initiatives, plans and accomplishments, and provides opportunities to leverage shared interests.

Currently, the School has over 600 full-time students from 35 states and 30 countries, over 100 faculty members, and more than 10,000 alumni.


The Director of the MFA will be an inspiring leader.

He or she will provide the artistic vision and strategic direction as the MFA’s chief executive.  The Director is responsible for the MFA’s overall management, including:  its collections; exhibitions and programs; physical, financial and human resources; its future growth and development; and the professional practices of collaboration, acquisition, deaccession, preservation, program organization and presentation.  The Director, with the support of and in partnership with the Board of Trustees, ensures the financial health of the Museum through fundraising and appropriate earned revenue pursuits.

Key institutional priorities for an incoming Director include:

Internal Priorities

  • Guiding Trustees, Overseers and staff in an inclusive strategic planning process;
  • Developing close relationships with the Trustees and Overseers, finding ways to bring forth new ideas and initiatives, and enabling supporting resources;
  • Fostering a transparent and collaborative culture, including open communications with staff and Trustees;
  • Championing Museum best practices, most critically with respect to facilities, acquisitions, collection management and exhibition planning;
  • Supervising, supporting and recruiting a highly qualified professional staff;
  • Delegating responsibilities and authority appropriately; holding individuals accountable for specific and collective performance; and providing direction and enhancing morale.

External Priorities

  • Ensuring curatorial and programmatic vision and leadership for the Museum’s artistic direction and development;
  • Executing a successful, multifaceted fundraising operation that builds community and trust along with financial security;
  • Solidifying the MFA’s institutional identity nationally and internationally, including clear and proactive messaging and brand vision, as well as the less tangible but critically important relationship with a diverse public;
  • Planning and executing a balanced and innovative exhibition program consistent with the MFA’s outstanding collections and international stature;
  • Investing the time and resources in scholarship to ensure that the MFA is viewed as an educational leader and a cultural leader;
  • Continuing to define the MFA’s audiences clearly and expansively, and offering compelling strategies for audience engagement;
  • Providing leadership in making the MFA a cutting-edge institution in the use of technology to enhance the visitor experience;
  • Developing collaborative working relationships with established and rising members of the Boston cultural, educational, political and business communities, as well as institutional peers and leaders in the museum field;
  • Providing oversight and support to the vision for the future of the SMFA so it can further develop as an art institution, including leveraging the capabilities of the Museum to offer unique curricula and opportunities to its students.

Job Requirements


The Director will be an experienced leader with a proven record of successful management, and an ambassador with an informed eye and compelling vision who will represent the MFA in the local, national and international arenas.  The Director will have or be:

  • Accessible and collaborative, generous of spirit, outgoing, and one who enjoys the social demands of the Director’s role;
  • Integrity, fairness, decisiveness, and good and tempered judgment;
  • A deep and passionate love of, and a commitment to, the highest levels of scholarship and education in all areas of the arts of the Museum;
  • Credibility and extensive experience in the field, and the networks to prove it;
  • An enthusiastic and effective fundraiser;
  • An innovator, with a vision of the future of museums;
  • Prior experience with museum operations, governance and best practices;
  • Strong organizational skills, with the ability to be effective under pressure and handle constant multitasking and diverse constituencies;
  • The experience and ability to manage financial operations;
  • Civically minded;
  • Excellent writing and communication skills;
  • Willing and able to sustain a demanding MFA events and travel schedule;
  • A self-starter able to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to an established institution; a track record of coalescing others around objectives and their successful implementation.

Please send applications or nominations to Sarah James or Becky Klein at


Contact Person: Sarah James or Becky Klein
Email Address: