an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Breaking: Metropolitan Museum’s Job Description for Its Next Director (contrasted with its last one)

This just in—the memo sent today to the Metropolitan Museum’s staff by president and CEO Dan Weiss, followed by the text of the job description for the new director.

Daniel Weiss

Here are excerpts from Dan’s memo:

Dear Colleagues,

I want to provide an update on the Director search, specifically to share the position description (attached) that has been developed over the past several months. Led by Trustees Candace Beinecke and Richard Chilton, the search process began in the spring.

Since then, more than 400 staff members and Trustees have participated in sessions with our search consultants [Phillips Oppenheim], providing valuable feedback on the priorities, qualifications, and qualities we should be looking for in the new Director. The next phase of the search will involve identifying and then assessing candidates.

A search for a position of this magnitude provides a unique opportunity to assess all parts of an institution, including its values, strengths, and priorities. I am pleased to say that is precisely what we have been able to do, and the search process has left me even more inspired by all that we accomplish at The Met and by the critical role we serve in our city, our nation, and the world.

All the best,

Here are excerpts from the job description:

THE POSITION: Responsibilities and Priorities

The Director of The Met will be a skilled and distinguished leader in the field with the demonstrated ability to develop and implement a vision that looks forward, advances The Met’s mission, and inspires supporters, staff, and the public. In addition to the professional responsibilities incumbent upon any art museum director, The Met has the following key priorities for its Director:

  • Be a strong and collaborative partner with the President; build relationships up and down the organization and establish credibility as the Museum’s artistic leader;
  • Develop a vision that advances The Met’s commitment to excellence, leadership, and innovation in the field; model and encourage – internally, locally, nationally, and internationally – collaborations that underscore the unique power of The Met;
  • Embody a passion for art and for The Met; serve as a visible spokesperson for the Museum with stakeholders, the media, and the public; be an active principal in The Met’s ambitious and highly effective fundraising programs;
  • Hire, oversee, motivate, and mentor a highly skilled professional staff, building bench strength for the future;
  • Focus on effective decision-making in areas including exhibitions, education programs, digital media, capital priorities, and organizational structure;
  • In collaboration with the President, Trustees, and staff, help shape and support The Met’s commitment to Modern and Contemporary Art, including plans for The Met Breuer and the Southwest Wing.

THE PERSON: Characteristics and Qualifications

The Director will be a tested executive who will:

  • Be a leader, with the knowledge, gravitas, integrity, and ability to motivate and inspire a highly skilled professional staff and shape the field on the world stage;
  • Have an excellent “eye” and a deep commitment to scholarship and education; be able to appreciate and convey with passion a vision encompassing the full breadth and depth of The Met’s collections;
  • Possess a highly developed “EQ” to ensure successful relationship building, fundraising, advocacy, communication, and team building – in short, leadership;
  • Be an engaged listener with the ability to build consensus both within the Museum and beyond;
  • Be a compelling spokesperson adept at inspiring widely divergent audiences;
  • Understand fiscal and operational constraints in order to be a persuasive partner with the President and advocate in the context of competing priorities;
  • Be bold; innovative; self-confident; resilient; decisive; and deeply thoughtful while focusing on the greater good for The Met.

For those who like to compare and contrast, here’s the job description that ultimately resulted in the selection of the ill-fated previous director, Tom Campbell.

I love that the new must-haves (not present in the 2008 version) include “gravitas,” having an “excellent eye,” being “a compelling spokesperson,” and, of course “understand[ing] fiscal and operational constraints.” No longer required in 2017 is “enthusiasm for and effectiveness at cultivating donors, collectors and other supporters,” although being “an active principal” in the Met’s fundraising is still part of the job. With “gravitas” as the new byword, “possession of a sense of humor” is not deemed essential.

These are serious times.

an ArtsJournal blog