Executive Director, Newcomb Art Museum

Job description

Executive Director, Newcomb Art MuseumOffice of Academic Affairs

Location: New Orleans, LA


The Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University (NAM) builds on the legacy of Newcomb College of liberal  academic education and the encouragement of social enterprise and artistic experience of its Art School. Presenting inspiring exhibitions and programs that engage communities both on and off campus, the  Museum fosters the creative exchange of ideas and cross-disciplinary collaborations around innovative  art and design. The Museum preserves and advances scholarship on the Newcomb and Tulane art  collections. The Museum's mission focuses primarily on the presentation of changing exhibitions and  related programming rather than collection-building, but it oversees both the University Art Collection  and the Newcomb Art Museum Collection.


As the only free-admission art museum in New Orleans, NAM's programs have centered diverse and often  marginalized communities, with the aim of shaping a more inclusive culture. Recent exhibitions have  featured the work of KAWS, Mickalene Thomas, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Kate Clark, and Brandan "B-Mike" Odums. Per(Sister), an exhibition of artwork inspired by the lives of incarcerated women in Louisiana, has  travelled to New York City, The Ford Foundation Gallery, and will be featured at the Eli and Edythe Broad  Art Museum at Michigan State University in Fall 2021. In 2018, the NAM commissioned the Los Angeles based artists Fallen Fruit to create EMPIRE, an exhibition in honor of New Orleans' tricentennial featuring  a collection of over 400 objects culled from archives and collections across campus. Exhibitions include  contemporaneous events (e.g., school programs, lectures, artist-led family programs, public tours,  performances, and studio demonstrations) that have drawn large audiences, including many first-time  museum visitors from historically underrepresented communities. 


NAM's bold and ambitious exhibitions have been recognized by American Arts Awards in 2016, 2017, 2018  and 2019, naming our museum one of the "25 Best American Museums & Galleries." The Museum's ground-breaking programming has significantly increased annual attendance to 15,000 (doubled since  2013) and increased diversity of visitors. 


The Newcomb Art Museum Collection is an outstanding group of Newcomb pottery, first produced in  1895, and other objects associated with the arts movement of the time, including embroidery, bound  books, jewelry, and metalwork. The Museum houses more than 600 fine examples of the school's  distinctive ceramic wares including important pieces made by Sadie Irvine, Harriet Joor, and Marie de Hoa  LeBlanc. It also has a significant collection of drawings, watercolors, paintings, and prints by Newcomb affiliated teachers, artists, and designers. Occasionally, objects are purchased for the collection, but most acquisitions are the result of gifts and bequests. The Tulane University Art Collection (TUAC) is a teaching and display collection that includes outstanding examples of Louisiana portraiture, neo-classical sculpture, and prints from all periods. NAM has also previously exhibited objects from other Tulane collections, including the Middle American Research Institute, the Latin American Library, the Southeastern  Architectural Archive, and the Amistad Research Center.


The Newcomb Museum is part of the Newcomb art complex, a high-traffic, central location on the  northern edge of Newcomb Quadrangle and near libraries, auditoriums, and the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life. The exhibition space is 3,834 square feet and is divided into four galleries: one central gallery measuring 1,818 square feet, with three smaller galleries (each 604 square feet) on its east and west ends.


NAM has an annual operating budget of approximately $750,000, five full-time and one-part time staff, an endowment of approximately $3 million, and an Advisory Board of 16 members. For more information  about the museum, please visit: https://newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu/  


Founded in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana with the goal of combating tropical diseases, Tulane  University has long been a hub of innovation and collaboration. As the only private national research  university in the Gulf South, Tulane embraces the region's distinctive culture, creativity and social  challenges as inspiration for its research, teaching and public service. 


A major research institution, and one of just 62 members of the prestigious Association of American  Universities, Tulane operates on multiple campuses and schools, but is also a university with small class  sizes and one-on-one mentor relationships between students and faculty. The top researchers, bestselling  authors, leading scholars and world-renowned artists who populate its faculty know their students by  name. Tulane's size and structure is critical to its mission -  it is small enough to be flexible and responsive  and large enough to create a dynamic and diverse community. Tulane brings together scholars, scientists  and students who are committed to crossing, combining and redefining the boundaries that have  separated fields and often thwarted true innovation. This interdisciplinary focus enables Tulane to find  real-world solutions to real-world problems, whether in business, engineering, medicine, law, or public health. 


Tulane's mission extends far beyond its campuses, bringing positive change to the community and the  world. It is a university on the front lines, addressing global challenges like infectious diseases, coastal  erosion and the preservation and promotion of indigenous culture, music, art and language.


In July 2014, President Michael Fitts was named the 15th President of Tulane. President Fitts has ushered  in a new era at Tulane focused on creating the most meaningful student experience anywhere and greatly  increasing and deepening the university's level of interdisciplinary teaching and research. His efforts are  quickly establishing Tulane as a place where the best minds from the widest array of fields seek solutions  to the world's most pressing problems through cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation.


The Executive Director of the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University (NAM) reports to the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost and is a member of Tulane's Academic Affairs Council. The  Executive Director also works closely with university senior leadership (Vice Presidents and Deans) and a  museum advisory committee comprised of high-level donors and community stakeholders. The Director  provides overall institutional leadership and management for the art museum department that has critical  operational impact stewarding irreplaceable art collections under the highest standards of care,  conservation, preservation, and display.


With a commitment to collaboration and impact across campus, the Executive Director articulates a vision  for the museum that advances the university's research and teaching mission with an impetus towards  interdisciplinary exploration. Understanding the role of the museum in the context of the academic mission, the Executive Director leads its staff to create and present programs that are scholarly, unique,  and that enhance university priorities, leverage and maximize distinctive assets, and highlight faculty,  staff, and community expertise. 


The Executive Director of NAM is responsible for the art museum department strategic plan and the  organization of a roster of exhibitions and public programs of utmost academic and artistic excellence.  The Director has responsibility for the Museum's budget, establishes museum policies and best practices,  raises funds in partnership with development officers, supervises museum publications and external  affairs, and manages all museum personnel matters, including recruiting, growing, and managing a diverse  team of dedicated staff. Additionally, the Executive Director will embrace the realities of a digital age and will insure that the Museum's technology, systems, and operations support the Museum's mission and  enhance the visitor experience.


The candidate must exemplify dedication to learning, intellectual curiosity and leadership, and a passion  for the arts. The ideal candidate will exhibit thorough knowledge of and an active engagement with  contemporary art, as well as commitment to the educational enterprise. The candidate will have a record  of respected intellectual and curatorial achievement, with demonstrable success cultivating relationships  with, and building bridges among, diverse constituencies. It is crucial that the candidate has access to  national and international networks of artists and arts professionals who can be called upon to contribute  to and partner with NAM. 


Direct experience with curatorial practice and exhibition planning, public programming,  operations, fundraising, public relations and/or marketing, and budget management are all desirable.  Strong interpersonal skills are critical, especially the ability to attract, motivate, and manage a talented  and diverse staff. An enthusiasm for working within the context of a university campus is critical, as well  as the capacity to relate intellectually to a wide range of disciplines. The candidate should have a  demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in hiring, management, and programming,  and should be an active advocate for viewing museum practices and collections through an equity lens.


The ideal candidate will have proven their ability to lead, collaborate with, and motivate a diverse  community, as well as build bridges amongst varying constituencies. The candidate should be a dynamic  and effective communicator in verbal, oral, and visual modes and able to serve as the primary advocate  for the institution and its programs. They will ideally possess an advanced degree in art history or another  art-related field, with demonstrated strengths and interest in contemporary art. They will have an  understanding of the role of museums in the 21st century, including digital strategies for audience  engagement.


The most attractive candidates will be able to demonstrate a history of the following skills and  competencies:


  • Strategic and Creative Vision: The candidate should be an imaginative, broad practitioner of contemporary museum and exhibition practice. They should have a comprehensive knowledge of and  be an active participant in the global contemporary art world. They must be a passionate and energetic advocate for contemporary art, the Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, and the rich artistic  communities of greater New Orleans. 
  • Communicating, Influencing, and Building Relationships: The candidate should be a galvanizing force  within the Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane, New Orleans, and the wider art world. They will be  enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the opportunities (and challenges) of an arts institution within a  large and wide-ranging university. The candidate will have experience working collaboratively with an  entire Board or individual Board members toward institutional goals. The candidate will have the  capacity to build bridges on campus with other cultural memory stewards(e.g., Tulane University Special  Collections, the Vorhoff Archives of the Newcomb Institute, and the Amistad Research Center, an  affiliate of Tulane University) and the fine arts and history of art programs. The candidate must also be  able to work in the diverse art communities of New Orleans and beyond, serving as a compelling  proponent for the Newcomb Art Museum in the national and global cultural landscape. They must also  engage a wide network of contributors and supporters, from artists and critics to board members, donors, students, and faculty. 
  • Management of Teams and Resources: The candidate must be able to translate over-arching goals into  clear objectives for staff. Fostering a culture of collaboration, mutuality, and respect, they will listen as  well as they lead. The ideal candidate will have a track record of success with this team-building style,  which is a hallmark of successful leadership in a decentralized academic environment. They will be  someone who operates in a fiscally sound and strategic manner, consistently maintaining a balanced  budget and optimizing operating efficiencies. 
  • Resource Development: The best candidates should have demonstrated fundraising success, as well as  relevant experience in stewardship, cultivation, and management of Boards, donors, and prospects. In  addition to direct experience, the qualities that make someone successful in development, including  passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge, outstanding people skills, and a talent for cultivation and  stewardship, are sought. 

  •  Initial screening of applicants will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
  • Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited and will be considered strictly confidential. Interested candidates should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest in electronic form (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF files preferred) to:
Michael Singleton and Katherine Armstrong

Consultants to the Search Committee

Russell Reynolds Associates

[email protected]

  • Any applications received via the Tulane Careers site and not through the search firm listed above will not be reviewed.

Required Qualifications

Preferred Qualifications




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Job No:
Posted: 4/1/2021
Application Due: 6/30/2021
Work Type: Full Time