For more than 60 years Vancouver Maritime Museum (VMM) has been sharing stories about maritime heritage in British Columbia and the Canadian Arctic that reflect a diverse range of voices.
For more than 60 years Vancouver Maritime Museum (VMM) has been sharing stories about maritime heritage in British Columbia and the Canadian Arctic that reflect a diverse range of voices. Its mission is to be a centre for dialogue, research, expression, and experience regarding the maritime heritage of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and its vision is to be a world class maritime museum and heritage centre. It strives to build a shared sense of belonging within its community by inspiring visitors to appreciate the profound relationship between humans and the sea.
VMM is nestled in Vanier Park in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, an ancestral fishing ground known as Sen̓áḵw to the Squamish Nation. Strengthening its connections with First Nations communities, VMM offers activities curated by First Nations representatives, through workshops, collecting, and collaborations with First Nations and other cultural institutions. The museum is committed to highlighting a greater diversity of stories reflecting Indigenous coastal communities and people from diverse west coast cultures, pro-actively seeking out and documenting the maritime heritage of the future.
Selected in 2020 by The Georgia Straight as one of the top museums in Vancouver, VMM tells the stories of the people, vessels, and diverse maritime heritage of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. It seeks to build partnerships with interested organizations to engage its diverse community, stakeholders, and visitors with inclusive educational and experiential events. VMM conforms to the highest ethical, industry, and fiduciary standards to ensure that the trust and confidence of the community, individuals, institutions, and maritime industry are maintained and nurtured. Its goal is to deliver inclusive opportunities for entertainment, education, exploration, and artistic expression.
As the primary repository for maritime history on the west coast of Canada, VMM houses more than 15,000 artifacts, a significant portion of which is owned by the City of Vancouver but managed, preserved, curated, and exhibited by the non-profit Vancouver Maritime Museum Society. Built principally on cultural and scientific artifact donations, VMM holdings reflect the region’s maritime history drawn from European, Asian, North American, and Indigenous sources. Programs cover a vast range of marine-related topics, including shipwrecks, lighthouses and steamship lines, coastal trade, deep-ocean exploration, and the interaction of coastal communities with the sea. The Leonard G. McCann Archives, named for the VMM’s late Curator Emeritus, consists of archival materials related to vessels, shipping companies, and maritime personalities. The collections exist in a variety of formats, including 60 metres of processed textual records, approximately 125,000 photographs, 2,700 ship plans, and maps and charts dating from 1892 to the present day. Best-loved items include material relating to Canadian Pacific steamships and original hand-drawn charts from Captain Cook’s exploration of the Pacific. The Archives is accompanied by a library, which houses more than 12,000 books related to maritime history and education. Prior to the pandemic, the Archives received approximately 500 reference requests per year.
Among VMM’s most visited permanent exhibits is the National Historic Site, St. Roch, an arctic exploration vessel used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the first vessel to make the west-east traverse and travel both directions of the Northwest Passage. Outdoor displays include the NASA undersea research vessel Ben Franklin and the boiler of the Beaver, the first steamship in the Pacific Northwest. The museum hosts extensive galleries of model ships, a Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre, a re-creation of the forecastle of Captain Vancouver’s ship Discovery, and an extensive collection of maritime art that reflects local historic and contemporary artists.
In 2019, VMM served more than 70,000 participants through a wide range of public programs, school programs, and outreach, including workshops, lectures, book readings, tours, and other events. School programs and educational outreach resources reached more than 6,000 students and adults. The Museum Shop specializes in maritime books, models, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police souvenirs. With one of the best views in town, the museum has a robust rental program for corporate and private events. The VMM regularly participates in and partners with community events such as Divers’ Weekend, Richmond Maritime Festival, Heritage Harbour, and Riverfest.
Led by Board Chair Peter Bernard, the VMM board of trustees are from diverse parts of the community representing areas of archeology, public relations, communications, First Nations, naval architecture, shipbuilding, legal, government, education, and port management. VMM is managed by 14 dedicated and capable staff members, supplemented by an auxiliary visitor services team, and has more 70 regular volunteers. VMM’s 2019 pre-pandemic revenues were approximately $1.6 million, including 50 percent from government and operating grants; 15 percent from admissions; 13 percent from donations, sponsorships, events, and memberships; and the balance from rentals, parking, retail, and other revenues. The resilience of VMM’s staff, volunteers, and board members in the face of COVID resulted in membership growth and balanced 2020 financial results.
Vancouver is situated on the traditional territories and unceded lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh). It was designated a City of Reconciliation on July 8, 2014, with a view to form a sustained relationship of mutual respect and understanding with local First Nations and the Urban Indigenous Community. The City of Vancouver has committed to a new culture plan, Culture/Shift, to transform how arts and culture are integrated into every facet of the city and the decisions that shape it in ways that equitably reflect its diversity. Coupled with a renewed master plan for the city’s parks, VanPlay, Vancouver is poised to benefit from abundant opportunities for inclusion and access. VMM’s Vanier Park location is also home to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Academy of Music, and the summer Shakespeare festival, Bard on the Beach.
Hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics launched Vancouver into international renown as a world class city. It is consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world, celebrated for its striking natural beauty and easy access to beaches, mountains, and the great outdoors. Its mild climate and proximity to the ocean and mountains combine to make Vancouver a year-round playground. Sailing, swimming, windsurfing, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, and hiking are all readily accessible. Located in the City’s centre, the spectacular Stanley Park offers 22 kilometres of pathways for walking, cycling, running, and rollerblading.
Vancouver is one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities and one of the most important gateways to Asia. This diversity contributes to a thriving art, theatre, and music scene. Arts and culture aficionados can enjoy a multitude of events, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver. The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents theatre, dance, music, and multimedia performances by Canadian and international artists. The city is also home to more than 50 professional theatre companies that host acclaimed operas, musical performances, and Broadway shows, as well as numerous museums, galleries, and visual art organizations.
Both Condé Nast Traveler and Food & Wine magazines recently named Vancouver as one of the world’s best food cities. Local and exotic fresh ingredients and seafood that reflect the area’s varied cultures are readily found in many local farmers’ markets and at the Granville Island Public Market. Microbreweries and distilleries dot the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. Vancouver is also home to several professional sports teams, including the three-time Stanley Cup finalists Vancouver Canucks, the Major League Soccer Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and the six-time Grey Cup winning BC Lions, who have played in the Canadian Football League since 1954.
The educational system in British Columbia is ranked first in Canada and is only behind Finland and Japan among peer countries. The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching and is consistently listed among the top 20 public universities in the world. Consistently ranked as Canada’s top comprehensive university, Simon Fraser University has ranked in the top 50 of the Times Higher Education list of 100 world universities. For students seeking careers in film and television, the Vancouver Film School provides world-class training and hands-on production experience. The city is also a popular filming location.
Sources: Daily Hive; tourismvancouver.com; foodandwine.com; vancouver.ca
The Executive Director will be a transformative champion for VMM’s exhibition, educational, and program offerings while elevating its stature as a destination for and within Vancouver. This individual will have exceptional business acumen in seeking first to understand the diverse communities VMM serves and then being a visible leader in guiding VMM to its next level of growth in service to its audiences. Committed to advancing reconciliation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism for all people, the Executive Director will act as a liaison between the city, First Nations communities, tourism agencies, and a multitude of distinct yet interrelated public, private, and government stakeholder groups. As VMM’s lead fundraiser in advancing its mission, vision, and values, the Executive Director will partner with and report to the board of trustees in driving their effectiveness in governance, policy making, and community ambassadorship. They will collaborate with the board and staff to drive financial support that results in dynamic and accessible exhibitions, collections, and facilities. This individual will have primary responsibility for all aspects of VMM’s operations and will be accountable for empowering, guiding, and mentoring a highly motivated team.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic and Community Leadership
- Serve as the primary listener and spokesperson for VMM, convening with government agencies, the media, members, funders, audiences, and the public-at-large.
- Develop mutually beneficial strategic partnerships and actively engage in building a deeper sense of community with civic and public leaders, educational and community organizations, and non-profit partners, including the Parks board and organizations that share Vanier Park.
- Advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in every aspect of organizational practices by recognizing the Indigenous lands on which VMM is situated; invigorating the exhibits, storytelling, and programs provided; honouring the people; and ensuring the origins of all items in the collection.
- Collaborate with diverse communities to determine appropriate ways to design, deliver, evaluate, and reinvent programs and services.
- Oversee an effective communication strategy that includes a strong digital presence, social media, press releases, newsletters, and other communication tools to promote the museum’s exhibitions, programs, and special events.
- Explore needs, feasibility, and aspirations for new facilities.
- Refine and execute annual and multi-year work plans with the board and staff to reinforce strategic priorities, achieve organizational goals, and deliver reverberating impacts.
- Exemplify a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of the VMM, including in its strategy, programs, education, community, governance, and otherwise.
- Demonstrate a staunch commitment to the values of inclusion, diversity, equity, respectful workplace behaviour, and access.
- Perform other strategic and community leadership responsibilities as needed.
Revenue Revitalization and Participation
- Advance active stewardship and cultivation of individual, foundation, and corporate supporters and champion new voices that focus on organizational diversity and community priorities.
- Grow membership programs and audience participation through proactive community engagement, effective marketing, and meaningful in-person and digital communication.
- Proactively identify, cultivate, and solicit individual major donors by enhancing authentic relationships locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Drive diversified contributed revenue streams with the Development team to attract support from foundation prospects, corporate sponsors, and special event entities.
- Embrace new earned revenue opportunities through an array of activities that increase brand awareness, on-site visitation, and international participation.
- Lead a museum-wide commitment to fund the implementation of growing information technology initiatives that include resources for the digitization of the collection, donor management databases, and accessible online streaming, and on-demand programs.
- Perform other revenue revitalization and participation responsibilities as needed.
Organizational and Team Resiliency
- Build and nurture a strong relationship with the board of trustees.
- Collaborate with board leadership in the effective development and timely distribution of agendas and reports, providing the information needed for them to reach decisions that advance the museum’s mission and vision.
- Serve as an effective partner to the board’s policy-making role by researching and recommending best practices, procedures, and plans that lead the organization to the successful implementation of board decisions.
- Support board prospect identification, cultivation, and recruitment activities that result in a diverse and engaged group that actively serve as community ambassadors.
- Manage and advise the activities of board committees and task forces as appropriate and in alignment with VMM goals and objectives.
- Partner with the Board Chair to bring and model best practices in equity, diversity, inclusion, and respectful workplace behaviour in all aspects of the VMM, including with the staff and board, and develop action plans that implement those policies and practices.
- Provide overall management and supervision to the museum staff, set performance goals and objectives, and encourage staff’s creativity and professional development.
- Oversee, advise, and guide staff in programming, venue operations, finance, development, and marketing and communications.
- Celebrate and lead a diverse team that will sustain an effective departmental structure with a focus on customer service and satisfaction.
- Ensure a workplace environment that fosters employee engagement, satisfaction, and a high level of professional performance.
- Commit to overall mentoring, coaching, and professional development opportunities with resources allocated for staff at all levels of the organization to participate.
- Advocate and support a respectful, compassionate, joyful, and safe work environment where all voices are heard and differing perspectives are welcomed.
- Mentor an experienced and committed team of volunteers and professionals who deliver VMM’s high-quality mission expected by audiences, communities, and creators alike.
- Perform other organizational and team resiliency responsibilities as needed.
Fiscal Oversight and Sustainability
- Assume primary responsibility for the timely preparation of the annual operating and capital budgets, exhibition plans, and operating practices with the staff.
- Collaborate and communicate regularly with the treasurer and the finance committee regarding critical infrastructure and operational needs and develop plans for board consideration, adaptation, and approval.
- Monitor the budget throughout the year, present monthly and periodic reports to the finance committee, and develop appropriate internal controls related to all financial matters.
- Establish financial and operational policies with appropriate checks and balances between departments and with the board.
- Direct the use of capital and operating funds and identify needs for facilities, equipment, technology, and operations.
- Ensure that the necessary organizational structure, policies, system controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for effectiveness.
- Participate in museum and maritime industry meetings, share and implement current best practices, and ensure best practices and standards with staff.
- Perform other fiscal oversight and sustainability responsibilities as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Executive Director will have a passion for maritime history and relevance as an inspiring, genuine, and resourceful leader who values teamwork and collaboration with others. This individual will be people-oriented and will appreciate the skills, experience, and input of all stakeholders in formulating plans and achieving successful outcomes. Motivated by an effective use of time and resources, the Executive Director will bring a balance of interpersonal skills and understanding of multiple viewpoints. Versatile, flexible, and tenacious, this individual will be an intellectually curious, innovative, and receptive to new ideas. The Executive Director embodies respect for diversity and fosters social inclusion in a respectful, accessible, and meaningful way.
Other important competencies include:
- Leadership and Diplomacy – The ability to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation while genuinely, effectively, and tactfully interacting with multiple stakeholders.
- Conceptual Thinking and Goal Orientation – The dexterity to analyze hypothetical situations, patterns, and abstract concepts, formulate alternative solutions, and develop suitable business strategies that anticipate future trends.
- Planning, Organization, and Priority Management – The ingenuity to collaboratively establish strategic goals while assessing risks, organizing activities, and operationalizing priorities to meet or exceed mutually agreed upon expectations.
- Professional and Personal Accountability – The integrity to be highly ethical, take risks, make and admit mistakes with resilience, and move forward conscientiously in addressing challenges.
A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent experience) and a minimum of seven years of senior management expertise are required. A master’s degree is desired. Deep knowledge of museums, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or related government agency experience is appreciated. Experience serving on or working with a board, supervising senior staff, managing a budget, and expanding revenue opportunities is needed. Excellent written communication and verbal presentation skills are required. A passion for and knowledge about maritime culture, history, and communities is expected. International candidates will be considered but Canadians and those who are currently eligible to work in Canada are preferred.
Compensation and Benefits
VMM offers competitive compensation, anticipated in the range of $120,000 to $140,000, plus benefits that include extended health and dental insurance, life insurance, and vacation time. The employee may participate in the Vancouver Employee Pension Plan after one year of service, which currently contributes 9.66 percent of annual salary and the employee contributes an additional 8.5 percent. The employee may also participate in the Vancouver Employee Savings Plan after one year of service, allowing employees to contribute 1.5 percent of salary, which is matched by a 1.5 percent employer contribution. Vancouver offers a high-quality work-life balance in a dynamic multicultural city that is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this unique job opportunity, please contact:
Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau
Arts Consulting Group
2 Toronto Street, Suite 217
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2B5
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201
Vancouver Maritime Museum Society is an equal opportunity employer and values a society that respects diversity and fosters social inclusion. VMM seeks to work with diverse communities in ways that each community identifies as respectful, inclusive, accessible, and meaningful. It strives to provide inclusive services to all, regardless of heritage, education, beliefs, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental health, physical or cognitive capabilities, or socio-economic status.