Organization: The Rubin Museum of Art

Location: New York, NY

Express Interest

About the Rubin Museum of Art:

Since its founding in 2004, the Rubin Museum of Art has become the preeminent art museum devoted to the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions. Taken together, its exhibitions, programs, publications, and collection are unparalleled in its field.

Prospectively, the Museum seeks to further expand both its impact and audience by utilizing its unique art to illuminate cross-cultural ideas that appeal to a broad segment of the public. The Trustees look forward to engaging the best possible leader to oversee this next, exciting phase of the Museum’s development.

The Foundation (1998-2004)

In the late 1990s, the Museum’s founders, Shelley and Donald Rubin, sought a home for their extensive Himalayan art collection. After locating and purchasing the facility, they retained a small, committed project staff and began building an expanded independent Board of Trustees. The pre-opening planning period included: defining an initial vision for the Museum; designing and completing a significant renovation; recruiting a professional staff; and – most critically – funding the initial endeavor.

The First Decade (2004-2014)

The Rubin Museum of Art opened in October 2004 to widespread acclaim, supported by a staff of 80 and annual budget of $12 million. The Founders contributed over 1,800 works of art and donated additional substantial funds to strengthen and diversify the collection.

It is challenging for any new institution in New York City to build its reputation and audience, and particularly so for a museum whose art is unfamiliar to most. To accomplish its goal, the Trustees elected to “burn bright” by spending liberally. Their efforts were rewarded: attendance doubled during its first decade with more than 190,000 visitors in 2016 and collectors and scholars came to perceive the Museum’s programs and publications as best-in-class.

By the end of its first decade, the Museum was a worldwide leader in Himalayan art exhibitions and scholarship and a beloved gem in the New York City art scene. At that point, the Founders and Trustees decided to transition spending to focus on long term financial sustainability and ramped up its fundraising efforts by expanding its development team. In 2014, the Founders created a Sustaining Fund with their final gift to the Museum.

The Museum completed its first decade with nearly $130 million in Sustaining and Operating Funds, and a 24-member Board of Trustees focused on balancing financial sustainability with the Museum’s characteristic excellence and creativity.

Beginning the Second Decade (2014-16)

The Museum entered its second decade with a wealth of experience about the type of exhibitions and programs that succeed, a well-earned reputation among opinion-leaders in Himalayan art, and ever-increasing popularity as a cultural destination for New Yorkers and tourists. The staff and Trustees analyzed data collected during the Museum’s first decade, which indicated that focusing on an approach that emphasizes the ideas embodied in the art of the region rather than a traditional art-historical approach is more successful.

After committing to this slight shift in focus, 2016 ended with record attendance and a rise in earned income in every category.

Looking Ahead (2017 & beyond)

The Rubin Museum is seeking a leader who is committed to its bold mission as an innovative institution that engages the public broadly. Over the next few years, the Museum needs a leader who will expand audience and engagement locally and virtually, refine the collection, and build philanthropic support. That leader will be supported by an institution poised for success:

  • The 80-member staff is focused, committed, highly-skilled, and creative;
  • The financial health is robust. The museum has $130 million in investments, which serves as a financial backstop that can support bold action;
  • There is an opportunity to substantially increase public attention. Fewer than 20% of New York culture-goers know about the Rubin. However, the Museum visitors are comparatively young, an elusive goal for many institutional peers; and
  • Trustees and staff are eager to bring the Rubin Museum’s collection and unique world view to an expanded audience.

The Museum’s work in 2017 will set the stage for the launch of its new programmatic vision in 2018 and 2019. To more effectively highlight broader themes in the art, all the Museum’s programs and exhibitions will coalesce around a single theme each year.

This model will bring the collection and related ideas to life in new and exciting ways and enable the exhibitions and programs to illuminate everyday issues. In addition, the Museum will borrow important art and partner with other institutions. Just as the Founders intended, tomorrow’s audiences will discover Himalayan, Buddhist, and regional art and philosophy as meaningful tools to understand, navigate, and honor our shared human experiences in an increasingly diverse and complex world.

For more information on the Rubin Museum of Art, please visit its website.

The Opportunity:

At this critical point in the Rubin Museum of Art’s trajectory, the Board of Trustees is seeking a strategic, innovative, and engaging Executive Director.

The Executive Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction in fulfilling the Trustees’ intention to expand impact and audience by focusing in on the new programmatic vision. The Executive Director will be the face of the Museum locally, nationally, and internationally and will serve as a bridge between internal and external stakeholders. Importantly, the Executive Director will represent the Rubin to a wide range of individuals and institutions, build partnerships with other entities, and cement the Rubin’s place as a leader in the arts and cultural community.

Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director’s primary responsibilities include devising strategy, overseeing implementation, internal and external communications, audience development, fundraising, and operations and administration. The Executive Director will work to ensure the Rubin is fiscally sound and to attract and retain top talent.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Driving the continued articulation and implementation of the Rubin’s new programmatic vision with a focus on further expanding both impact and audience;
  • Representing the Rubin in cultural circles to raise the profile of the institution;
  • Continuing to build the Museum’s niche in the scholarship of the Himalayas;
  • Playing a leadership role in fundraising and working with the Board and staff to bring in previously untapped support; and
  • Overseeing the operations of the Rubin, including finances, facilities, and staff management.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal skills, qualities, and characteristics:

Innovative Leadership

The Executive Director will be an innovative, entrepreneurial, and visionary leader who is comfortable balancing bold risk with sustainability and stability; will inspire trust and confidence; and will have a successful track record as a leader in his/her field. The Executive Director will be skilled at convening and influencing organizations and communities and will be motivated by the opportunities for the Rubin. S/he will be an effective partner to the Board and staff to enhance and achieve the Rubin’s key strategic objectives and new programmatic vision. The Executive Director will thrive in a rapidly changing landscape and will galvanize the Rubin community.

Ambassador for the Rubin Museum

The Executive Director will have a passion for the Rubin and its place as a leader in the arts and cultural landscape; will be able to speak credibly about art and objects and will be skilled at communicating the Rubin’s vision to a variety of stakeholders. With strong interpersonal skills, the Executive Director will be an articulate, dynamic, and diplomatic communicator who can work effectively and build strong relationships with the Board, staff, founders, donors, and other partners. Lastly, the Executive Director will be familiar with the scholarship of the art of the Himalayas and will be comfortable in the broader arts and cultural community to advance the mission of the Rubin and raise its profile locally, nationally, and internationally.

Fundraising & Development

The Executive Director will be a proven fundraiser (in any context) who energetically embraces this aspect of the role. The Executive Director will bring a creative and entrepreneurial approach to fundraising, enabling the Rubin to access previously untapped support; and will have demonstrated skill at cultivating relationships with a variety of donors, including major individual donors, foundations, and corporations. The Executive Director will be able to inspire a diverse group of stakeholders to get involved in the Rubin to help achieve new pinnacles of success.

Business Acumen & Management Skills

The Rubin is looking for a leader with strong business acumen. The Executive Director will be a seasoned executive with strong management experience; a track record of sound financial planning, oversight, and accountability as well as the ability to build and inspire a staff with a diverse set of skills. The Executive Director will be able to provide clear expectations and accountability measures for deliverables while encouraging innovation and initiative. S/he must have the skills to lead the adoption of the new programmatic vision, leading the Rubin into a successful next chapter. Finally, the ideal candidate is an individual of integrity, ethics, and values, who can be trusted without reservation.


Koya Leadership Partners, a national retained executive search firm that works with nonprofit clients, has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Alison Ranney and Alexandra Corvin directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with nonprofit institutions. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit