The Queens Museum (QM) is a cutting-edge contemporary art museum, a welcoming community space, and an historic site all in one. It was established in 1972 by a group of Queens’ community leaders seeking to provide a vital cultural center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the borough’s unique, international population and for residents of, and visitors to, greater New York. Located next to the home of US tennis and housed in the historic NYC Building—the City’s official pavilion during the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, and the temporary former home of the UN General Assembly—QM’s galleries overlook the Unisphere, the monumental steel globe symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair and the unofficial emblem of Queens.
QM’s permanent collection includes The Panorama of the City of New York—a 9,335 square foot architectural scale model of all five NYC boroughs commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, which elicits gasps of delight from the as many as 30,000 school children who visit it every year. The collection also includes memorabilia from both World’s Fairs, and a rotating display of Tiffany Glass. In 50,000 sq ft of sunlit, dedicated galleries, the Museum presents new exhibitions by local, national and international artists, many of whom have been historically under-recognized, are at the start of promising careers, and/or place social change and engagement at the forefront of their work. Exhibition development at QM is influenced by strong relationships between the exhibitions, community engagement, and education departments, as well as the presence of the Museum’s nontraditional audiences and its mission to engage them. QM mounted the first New York surveys of pioneering contemporary American artists Joan Jonas, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Mel Chin. A biannual roundup of Queens’ artists titled Queens International was founded in 2002. Immigrant Movement International with Tania Bruguera, in partnership with Creative Time, was established in 2011 as a long-term, place-based residency. Since 2013 a well-supported exhibition series for emerging artists continuously injects new ideas and energy and connects the Museum to ongoing local and international conversations in art and contemporary life.
Since 2006, QM has had a full-time community organizer on staff in its public programming department. Still unique amongst American museums, this department has engaged the immediate neighborhoods of Corona and Flushing in numerous cultural initiatives connecting directly to expressed community needs such as health, children’s cultural life, and safe, public spaces for presentations of traditional and hybrid culture. QM has initiated participatory planning projects, amplifying the voices of its neighbors so they may have real impact on the shape of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and on Corona Plaza, which is a short walk into the city from the Museum itself. Strong partnerships with local grassroots immigrant organizations have positioned QM as a leader in the field of museum engagement—something that is drawing increasing attention as museums nationally urgently seek to understand and respond to their audiences in more nuanced ways.
Through its education department, through in-school and after-school, teen, family, access and new “New Yorkers” programs, the Museum aims to provide educational opportunities for people regardless of age, gender, ability, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, or linguistic preference. QM’s on-site educational programs and numerous partnerships provide accessible offerings to ensure all those interested can engage with the Museum and its resources. Education staff include teaching artists, art therapists, and program directors.
QM completed a major expansion project in 2013, using the internationally renowned architects, Grimshaw, doubling its temporary gallery space and greatly increasing its capacity to 100,000 square feet, including a working artist studio program, with eight studios onsite. Since reopening, QM has continued to expand the audiences it serves, engaging them with art that directly relates to their everyday experiences and providing free and accessible multilingual arts and educational programming. Through on-site and off-site programming, QM serves 250,000 people annually, including: 35,000 at Immigrant Movement International Corona—the nearby storefront community space the museum co-founded in 2011 with artist Tania Bruguera that offers artmaking workshops, legal services, and language classes to local residents; 30,000 or more K–12 public school students; and 5,500 individuals with diverse abilities through its ArtAccess programs.
Strong education programs for school children and adults have been essential to its success. By offering exemplary exhibitions, education and engagement programs and attractive spaces for parties, corporate events, galas, and festivals, the community continues to embrace the Museum and feels a sense of ownership.
A decade-long programming partnership with the Queens Public Library will result in a branch of the library being opened within the Museum once the second phase of its expansion is completed (expected in 2020). QM will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.
The Museum has a Board of 25 trustees and 8 ex-officio members, a staff of 39 fulltime employees and between 65-80 part-time employees and a total annual budget of $6.5m.
The Museum is on a course that everyone agrees is exciting, and will continue to develop exhibitions and public programs that engage a diverse community in ways that are nationally recognized as innovative. The new Director will be able to continue to focus on this aspect of the Museum while also concentrating on increasing the budget size in order to underpin its people costs and support existing and new programs and exhibitions. Additionally, because the Museum’s physical, social and cultural footprint has grown significantly over the past five years, the Director will work to establish appropriate policies and procedures to help direct its activities. Cultivating local politicians and community leaders, as well as building the Board, will also need the attention.
The Board of Trustees is seeking an energetic and visionary leader with a passion for art and a strong management background to direct the Queens Museum. The Director, reporting to the Board of Trustees, will bring renewed vitality to QM. Working with the Board and staff, the Director will articulate the Museum’s artistic, aesthetic and educational direction. The Director will be a strong administrator, responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Museum. S/he will continue its legacy of engaging with the community and local, national and international artists.
The Director should have a strong art history background, have close connections with the contemporary visual art community, and an ability to work closely with the curators to set the exhibitions and activities within an intellectually rich context. S/he must be able to continue the legacy of direct engagement with grassroots organizations in the immediate neighborhood and continue to work creatively to develop and welcome nontraditional audiences into the Museum and also bring the Museum even further into the neighborhood. S/he must be highly regarded by his/her peers in the museum and contemporary art world. The Director must be able to articulate a strategic vision for the Museum and should possess excellent skills in fundraising, financial management and community engagement. The Director serves as the organization’s spokesperson to all constituencies, increasing awareness of the Museum by clearly articulating the Museum’s ambitious goals and programs.
Essential Duties & Responsibilities
Clearly articulate the mission and vision of this Museum as an exceptional cultural, economic and civic resource.
Create strong ties with the artistic and political community in New York City and Queens and cultivate collaborative working relationships with area partners.
Engage with the political and community leadership of Queens by attending community activities, inviting them to Museum activities and being accessible throughout the community.
Paint a clear and exciting picture of the Museum’s future exhibitions, educational programs and community engagement activities.
Identify, cultivate and generate significant financial support for the Museum’s activities by working with the Board to expand ties to the philanthropic, political, and civic community.
Manage a team of dedicated professionals and provide supervision of the day-to-day operations of the Museum.
Create the annual budget and manage all of the resources of the Museum.
Expand the Board and maintain good working relations with existing Board members.
Ensure the brand and identity of the Museum are maintained.
Speak on behalf of the Museum at local, national and international conferences.
10-15 years of increasing responsibility in a Museum of significant size with the past 5 years in a senior position with a demonstrated record of accomplishment. An appropriate degree in Art History or a related field is essential.
A dynamic, passionate and energetic leader
A collaborator who is self-directed and able to work independently but also has the ability to work collegially with an open-door policy.
Someone comfortable and knowledgeable about historical and contemporary art and themes that will resonate with Queens and New York communities.
Experience and interest in building community engagement and education initiatives.
Successful implementation of a development program that includes the ability to articulate the Museum’s needs for annual fund development, endowment and future capital projects.
Demonstrated interest and ability to energize a diverse community while building a positive image and lasting relationships for the Museum.
Be accessible, flexible, diplomatic, be a good listener and a “people person.”
Ability to communicate in both written and oral presentations and to present and represent the Museum to internal and external constituencies.
A reputation for the highest level of integrity and credibility.
Competitive and commensurate with experience. An excellent benefits package.
START DATE Summer/Fall, 2018
Send resume and cover letter indicating interest, qualifications and list of three references to:
Management Consultants for the Arts
Via email to: Mcawall2@gmail.com (preferred)