The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) is a comprehensive natural history and cultural museum located in Wisconsin’s largest city (MSA pop. 1.7 million), and the most-attended museum in the State with diverse annual visitation of more than 500,000. MPM holds a collection of some 4.5 million objects, has 150,000 square feet of galleries on four floors, and is one of the oldest natural history museums in the nation as well as home to the first natural history diorama in the world, created in 1890.
MPM is currently in an exciting period of transformation and is seeking candidates and nominations for the newly-created position of Vice President of Audience and Community Engagement. This senior leadership position oversees a newly-created division within MPM charged with engaging audiences through a coherent alignment of vision, voice, and experience. This work is done in support of MPM’s overall goals of building audience engagement and community connections, expanding the diversity of the community MPM serves, and increasing both philanthropic support and earned income. The VP and her/his team will be the primary advocates for the visitor across MPM, ensuring the museum is consistently prioritizing visitor experience at all levels.
The VP of Audience and Community Engagement will lead staff (~22 FT and several dozen PT) across multiple departments, including Education and Public Programs, Guest Relations, Marketing and Communications, Membership, the six-story high Daniel M. Soref National Geographic Dome Theater and Planetarium, the Museum Store, and Functions/Events. The position will also lead MPM’s volunteer and intern programs (housed within Education), group visits (housed with Guest Relations), and will be one of the leaders of a cross-organizational team that will be formed to set strategy for MPM’s social media and website.
Building from the expertise of his/her staff, the VP of A+CE will lead the creation of a welcoming, compelling, visitor-centric museum experience that is intentional and integrated from first contact to post-visit, including:
a) how MPM markets and positions itself in the community and marketplace overall, as well as within specific segments of the community;
b) the ways MPM works with community groups and schools of all scales, onsite and off, to provide innovative educational programs and meaningful visits;
c) how the museum creates and presents compelling social media and online experiences that align with our mission and goals;
d) the design of the interactions physical visitors to MPM have with our staff and operations;
e) the creation of a robust slate of programs—from populist to scholarly—to leverage museum exhibits for existing audiences, and to help draw new and more diverse audiences;
f) how the museum stewards relationships with audiences, walking them up the ladder from visitors to membership, support, and advocacy for MPM in their own communities.
A primary part of the role is the leadership of a talented Education staff, via a newly-created reporting position of Director of Education and Programs, in delivering nationally-innovative programs and content aligned with the needs of visitors, the public, schools and State curricula.
All of these efforts must be aligned effectively in order to present a coherent institutional vision and MPM “brand” to the public, and these responsibilities are inseparable from the charge of the A+CE division to deepen the museum’s service to and connection with diverse communities—in age, socio-economic status, race, culture, and interests—across the region and state.
Our strategic goal is to establish MPM as a recognized leader in audience engagement and community partnership and to create an intentional program of audience engagement that will prove a replicable model for museums nationwide.
Skills and Abilities
The successful candidate will be a sophisticated leader with a deep and abiding interest in how museums interact with audiences and sustain and serve communities. She/he must be a creative thinker interested in helping advance MPM’s own organizational thinking and culture toward a broad, innovative vision of public engagement. The role requires the ability to synthesize widely disparate organizational efforts under a rubric that places the visitor as the key driver of MPM’s public efforts, while also respecting and supporting the various components of MPM’s critical non-public activities in collections, curatorial, research and museology.
She/he must be an effective manager of staff and resources, comfortable with both process and ambiguity. The successful candidate will be exceptionally articulate, an effective negotiator and consensus builder, empathetic to community challenges and needs, engaged with innovative models of informal education, decisive, financially savvy, and comfortable engaging individually with a wide variety of constituents—from those unfamiliar with museums altogether to community leaders, foundations, and sophisticated Board members and donors. She/he must be comfortable developing, prototyping and scaling new programs and efforts and effectively evaluating and articulating the risks of and returns on these efforts.
Nominations and applications are welcome. MPM offers a highly competitive salary, generous benefits, relocation assistance, and the opportunity to be part of a team shaping an innovative and exciting institution for a community in which MPM is a beloved icon. MPM is an equal opportunity employer and is very actively seeking to broaden the diversity of its leadership and workforce. MPM is an EOE employer.
Milwaukee is a growing community located on a beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan lined with miles of beaches and parks, and has one of the lowest costs of living of the 100 largest American cities. Milwaukee supports a major Zoo often cited as a national model, opera and ballet companies, active locavore and foodie scenes, multiple active theater troupes and entertainment venues, and professional sports. Located 80 miles north of Chicago, the city is at a particularly exciting tipping point in thinking about how to advance as a city and region. Per the 2013 census Milwaukee County is approximately 53% white, 27% African American, 14% Hispanic or Latino, 4% Asian and 1% Native American.