SEATTLE ART MUSEUM 2021
As a leading visual art institution in three unique locations,
SAM shares its global collections, powerful exhibitions, and
dynamic programs to engage, educate, and inspire. SAM was founded
in 1933 with a focus on Asian art. By the late 1980s the museum had
outgrown its original home, and after significant renovation and
expansion campaigns, SAM is now one of the nation’s largest single
museums experienced on three significant sites: the 1933 landmarked
art deco building Asian Art Museum (re-opened 2020); the
award-winning nine-acre Sculpture Park and Seattle’s largest
downtown green space — a “Museum without walls,” free and open to
all on the waterfront; and, the 118,000-square-foot expansion of
its main, downtown location, including 232,000 square feet of
additional space built for future expansion.
From a strong foundation of Asian art to noteworthy collections
of African and Oceanic art, Northwest Coast Native American art,
European and American art, and modern and contemporary art, the
strength of SAM’s collection of approximately 25,000 objects lies
in its diversity of media, cultures, and time periods, dating from
antiquity to the present, and representing a wide range of global
cultures and historical perspectives. The pandemic has not slowed
SAM down, as it announced two recently gifted landmark collections
from the Wright Family and The Friday Foundation.
After three decades of dynamic capital campaigns, SAM looks with
excitement and enthusiasm to elevate and invest in art and program.
The Deputy Director for Art will be critical to the success of its
efforts. SAM has a $27 million operating budget, a $200 million
endowment, an 11-member senior leadership team, a staff of 290, and
a historically supportive and diverse Board of 65 active trustees.
The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that it is located on the
ancestral land of the Coast Salish people. For more information
about SAM, please visit https://www.seattleartmuseum.org/
The Deputy Director for Art serves as a key member of the senior
management team and must bring strong management and fundraising
experience, a track record of dynamic exhibition projects, national
and international networks, a desire to connect with local
communities and collectors, as well as design a relevant and
ambitious curatorial program. The position provides leadership of
the museum’s collections and exhibition program, mentors curators
to achieve artistic excellence and contribute to institutional
health, and ensures that art departments uphold SAM’s mission,
vision, and values.
SAM is dedicated to racial equity and strives for employees,
volunteers, and interns who are passionate, qualified, and offer
diverse perspectives. SAM prioritizes racial equity in the
workplace because it knows that people of color are the most
impacted when it comes to inequities. It is particularly interested
in engaging with historically under-represented groups in the
museum field as it strives to be inclusive and equitable. SAM is
responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and its
strategic plan goals address the role art plays in empowering
social justice and structural change to promote equity in
The Deputy Director will work with the CEO, a department of 13,
including seven curators, exhibition, publications, and libraries
staff to develop vibrant, balanced artistic program in support of
SAM’s mission, including collection development and installation,
and exhibition program; partnering with (five) peers on the senior
leadership team; cultivate and engage new and loyal collectors and
funders for the benefit of the museum.
Exhibitions and Collections
- Direct Reports: curators; curatorial coordinator;
librarian; senior exhibitions and publications manager; collections
and provenance associate
- Compensation: $235-280,000 annual salary range DOE
- Work with CEO, curators, and senior exhibitions and
publications manager to develop a cohesive and compelling
exhibition program in support of the museum’s mission that sets SAM
apart and optimizes its unique strengths and sites.
- Partner with fellow deputy directors, as appropriate, to ensure
feasibility and implementation of programmatic decisions, as well
as alignment of museum goals across divisions.
- Approve and, with senior exhibitions and publications manager,
monitor exhibition budgets.
- Mentor and coach curatorial staff. Provide guidance on
exhibition recommendations and work to refine excellence in
- Present proposed special exhibitions with associated budgets to
Officers Committee for approval.
- Present annual exhibition program to Board, local press, and
others as necessary.
- Initiate, cultivate, and maintain contacts with collectors,
donors, local constituents, national and international museum and
artworld contacts. Support and encourage team to do same.
- Ensure department produces notable programmatic scholarship as
- Present exhibitions to visitors; give lectures, train docents,
and publish articles, as needed.
- Strategize with development, curators, CEO to identify funding
opportunities for SAM programs, especially as they relate to SAM
exhibitions and collections. Work with curatorial team to realize
same skills and objectives.
- Plan, chair, or delegate all departmental and division
meetings, as appropriate.
- Oversee the Board’s Committee on the Collection; work with CEO
and curators to make recommendations for purchases and gifts; with
collection and provenance associate, develop and monitor collection
priorities and funds; develop and follow policies and
- Ensure vibrant and compelling presentation at all three
- Represent curatorial division on SAM internal Loan
- Work closely with conservation department to prioritize care of
- With CEO, provide overall leadership and direction, including
long-term planning and excellence of the curatorial program.
- Represent the museum in the community; work to increase the
level of community awareness, interest, and appreciation for art
and the museum.
- Supervise SAM’s curators and curatorial staff, including
- Keep current on the art scene, internationally and locally;
maintain contacts with artists, dealers, collectors, colleagues,
and museums to further SAM programs.
- Actively stimulate accessions, exhibitions, and loans to
- Control and manage non-compensation and compensation divisional
- Travel when necessary for research and on cultivation trips
with museum supporters to further SAM program.
- Review curatorial and marketing materials concerning
exhibitions and collections.
- Participate in national, international, and regional
professional activities as appropriate.
- Conform to the code of ethics governing the museum profession,
represent the museum with a high level of integrity and
professionalism, adhere to museum policies and support management
decisions in a positive, professional manner.
QUALIFICATIONS, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES
- Master’s degree in art history or equivalent preferred with 10
years’ prior relevant experience.
- Self-directed, motivated, and team-oriented. Ability to work
with the Board, donors, collectors, volunteers, the public, and
co-workers professionally, sympathetically, and
- Knowledge of current issues within the museum profession.
- Proven record of leadership and ability to work productively
with people across a broad spectrum, including a demonstrated
commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Knowledge of selection, intrinsic and market value,
conservation, and exhibition of works of art, and of the legal
regulations governing collecting.
- Understanding of budgeting principles and strategies.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills; effective and
at-ease public speaker.
- Organizational ability with strong leadership, management, and
supervisory skills. Ability to assess priorities and work well
under pressure; excellent time management, problem-solving, and
analytical skills, with a close attention to detail and to maintain
confidentiality of sensitive information.
- Ability to adhere to museum policies and support management
decisions in a positive, professional manner.
Centering equity, diversity, and
inclusion as an organization, and as individuals, Seattle Art
Museum (SAM) is committed to ensuring that all employees and
volunteers enjoy a respectful, inclusive, and welcoming workplace.
SAM is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified
candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard
to race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual
orientation, gender identity, age, disability, honorably discharged
veteran or military status, or the use of a trained dog guide or
service animal by a person with a disability.
The Seattle Art Museum will consider
applicants who may need a reasonable accommodation to perform the
essential functions/duties. Please contact the Human Resources
Department at (206) 654-3188 or HR@seattleartmuseum.org for
additional information or to request reasonable accommodations for
the application or interview process.
Applications and nominations are
welcome at SAMArt@phillipsoppenheim.com.