Director, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
Spelman College, a historically Black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change.
Spelman College, a private institution with an enrollment of 2,120, was founded in 1881 and is the oldest historically Black college for women in America. Its 39-acre campus is located just five minutes outside of downtown Atlanta and is part of the Atlanta University Consortium, the largest association of historically black institutions of higher learning in the world.
Among the faculty are nationally and internationally recognized and awarded scholars, heads and officers of disciplinary associations, and several patent holders. Eighty-eight percent of the faculty members hold doctoral degrees or their equivalent.
Within the student body there is a Mellon Curatorial Fellowship awardee, multiple Gates Millennium scholars, Fulbright Fellow winners, and Truman and Marshall Scholars.
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
To inspire and enrich the Spelman College community and the general public primarily through art by and about women of the African Diaspora.
Embedded in the rich working and learning environment of the college is the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the only museum in the nation emphasizing art by and about women of the African Diaspora. The museum opened in 1996 with a mission founded on the belief that visual art is an essential component of a liberal arts education and that it plays a significant role in encouraging the intellectual growth and development of students. The museum has become a unique hub for the Spelman community and the Atlanta University Center, the general public, and visitors from around the globe with exhibitions, a collection, and programming that highlight artists’ personal and artistic connections to the community.
The museum’s mission is realized through its collections, exhibitions, and programs, and its growing collection includes works by emerging, mid-career, and established artists. The collection also reflects the institution’s sustained commitment to artists in the Atlanta University Center.
The museum presents two exhibitions each year that include solo, thematic, group, and period-specific projects. Many exhibitions are original projects that the staff organizes; others are nationally touring exhibitions that are organized by other institutions. The museum’s exhibitions examine topics that complement the academic curriculum and expand art offerings in Atlanta, the region, and beyond. Recent artists have included Zanele Muholi, Deborah Roberts, and Amy Sherald. The museum has a growing reputation for presenting projects that are bold and daring and have added to Spelman’s partnerships with artist, galleries, and other museums.
The museum provides numerous and varied programming and engagement efforts that assert that Black female creativity is inextricably linked to interdisciplinary innovation and holistic healing. A few examples of the varied programming are Community Conversations involving Atlanta University Center faculty and students and other Friends of the Museum, inviting them to connect their passions and interest to the works of art on view at the museum; “3 + 1,” a participatory community film screening; and “Through Her Lens,” a multiple-visit program centered around self-esteem, teamwork, and creativity.
The museum is approximately 4,500 square feet, and the Spelman College Collection has 425 fully acquisitioned artworks and 119 promised gifts of works of art. The FY 2020 museum budget was approximately $826,000, of which the college funded approximately $433,000, and the balance of which was raised by the museum Director.
Since the 1930s, Spelman College has developed a collection of art primarily from the African Diaspora through the generosity of alumnae, artists, trustees, Friends of the College, and also through select purchases. Some works, primarily painting and sculpture, were housed in dormitories, academic buildings, and administrative offices for several decades. When the museum was established in 1996, campus-wide distribution of art was disbanded and the museum became the repository for the Spelman College collection, the nucleus of the college’s art collecting, preservation, and exhibition activities. To honor its unique mission and focus, the museum acquires art that highlights the wide spectrum of works that women artists of the African Diaspora create.
Ethnographic, African, three-dimensional, polychrome, wooden artifacts have comprised the greater part of the College’s holdings. The collection also includes works by celebrated African American artists including Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Hale Woodruff, and many others. More recent acquisitions are in alignment with the museum’s mission. María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Lalla Essaydi, Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter, and Nandipha Mntambo are amongst the global roster of artists whose works are also represented in the College’s growing collection. Other recent acquisitions include works by Mequitta Ahuja, Firelei Báez, Vanessa L. German, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Deborah Roberts, Berni Searle, Billie Zangewa, and a gift from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation of textiles from the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers.
For additional information, please visit https://museum.spelman.edu/.THE POSITION
Reporting to the provost, the Director is the museum’s chief executive, working within the academic setting of Spelman College and collaboratively with the Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective at the Atlanta University Center.
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art has accomplished substantial artistic, programmatic, and institutional growth and achievement since its founding. At the same time, the opportunity for ongoing innovation and evolution is significant. In collaboration with the senior leadership of Spelman College, the Director will set the goals for the museum and articulate a compelling vision for its future vibrancy and growth in alignment with the college’s strategic goals.
The Director engages, works closely with, and collaborates broadly across the college, especially academic departments and the office of advancement.
The Director will be a sophisticated leader and manager, active in all aspects of the museum and an integral member of the museum team and culture. The Director will be an enthusiastic representative of the museum nationally and internationally with key stakeholders, colleagues in the arts, patrons, donors, educators, and other supporters.
PRIORITIES AND KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
- Develop and foster synergies and collaborative working relationships with the faculty, administration, and other key members of the college community that will bring forth their best ideas and efforts in support of the museum and the use of its assets.
- Manage, motivate, empower, and evaluate staff and create clear lines of authority and responsibility, establishing annual goals and benchmarks and ensuring a productive, supportive, and collaborative working environment.
- Further integrate the museum into the educational and cultural life of the college through alignment with the college strategic plan and the interdisciplinary studies, goals, and objectives.
- Ensure the museum is regionally, nationally, and internationally relevant through partnerships and scholarship as well as dynamic exhibitions, programs, and events. Attuned to Spelman as both a historic Black college and a community with important partnerships with other HBCUs, museums, foundations, and individual supporters, the Director will develop and nurture new relationships that will add to the museum’s visibility and support.
- The director will be committed to, and ensure the alignment of, the college’s and museum’s missions, guiding the museum through and beyond an accreditation process that will help focus its purpose as well as its adherence to museum standards and best practices, and that will validate its recognition as a world-class institution.
- Reporting to the provost and also working closely with the president and other administrators, ensure the alignment of the museum’s strategic objectives with those of the college as a whole.
- While maintaining the museum’s unique identity as an entity embedded in the college, foster its relationship with academic and other departments as a member of the community.
- Ensure transparent and regular communication between the museum and the rest of the college, especially throughout the accreditation process.
- Serve on appropriate committees of the college and participate in administrative meetings.
- Actively develop, oversee, and manage a fiscally responsible budget; strive continuously for institutional stability and long-term sustainability.
- Review and develop the museum’s infrastructure – its operations, financial systems, information technology systems, processes, and procedures – and make necessary improvements to support the staff’s efforts.
- Assume responsibility for the financial health and growth of the museum by developing sustainable financial strategies to support ongoing and new initiatives; conceive of new earned revenue and fundraising streams.
- Serve as the external face of the museum to donors and prospects; become a familiar and active presence on and off campus; embrace the demanding social schedule of a cultural leader.
- Pursue support for operations and programs, new endowments, capital needs, and acquisitions of art; work in close partnership with the office of institutional advancement on fundraising strategies, proposals, research, and stewardship efforts; develop and execute grants.
- Cultivate relationships with foundations, corporations, and high-level and other donors; actively cultivate members for the museum.
- Identify opportunities to engage the college leadership to raise awareness of and support for the museum.
- Envision and implement short-term and long-range strategic plans for the museum’s institutional stability and growth.
- Provide innovative curatorial leadership regarding the care, development, and display of both the museum-originated shows and exhibitions that originate elsewhere.
- Cultivate relationships with artists and emergent art movements that align with the museum’s mission.
- Build and strategically leverage current and new partnerships with other museums, academic institutions, community groups, and
- Serve as a visible thought leader around issues central to the museum’s mission.
- Support access to the collection through its preservation, scholarship, publications, the museum website, and other media.
- Provide professional development opportunities with an eye towards the museum’s being an incubator for new talent in the museum field.
- Direct or produce publications based on the museum’s exhibitions or permanent collection; contribute and ensure ongoing authoritative scholarly contributions to the field through professional staff and visiting researchers/scholars, including lectures, symposia, and publications to both general and specialized
The Director will embrace the mission and values of the museum
and the college and will have the following experience and
- Dynamic leadership skills; ability to take well-considered and tenable risks in pursuit of excellence.
- Demonstrated effective managerial experience, preferably in a museum environment.
- Knowledge of AAM standards and practices; experience of accreditation process preferred.
- Capability to balance respect for a distinguished history and traditional practices with the need for creativity, innovation, and growth.
- Expertise in visual art of the African diaspora; knowledge of and connections to networks in the world of art and culture and their key participants; the ability to select, evaluate, and pursue works relevant to the museum’s mission.
- Commitment to arts in education and proficiency in working within and on behalf of an academic context; ability to work collaboratively in an academic institution and liaise effectively with administrative bodies.
- Ability to lead, organize, delegate to, and support a professional staff.
- Ability to serve as spokesperson and ambassador for the institution and its programs, with outstanding verbal and written communications skills; a practiced communicator who conveys information readily and often in order to ensure broad investment.
- An appetite for and experience in fundraising.
- Advanced degree strongly preferred.
Please send applications or nominations to G. Angela Henry and Addie Jones at SpelmanMuseum@PhillipsOppenheim.com.