Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Director of Curatorial Affairs

Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Director of Curatorial Affairs

Taft Museum of Art

Cincinnati, OH   |   March 4, 2020

About the Taft Museum of Art

The Taft Museum of Art is one of the finest small art museums in America. Housed in part in a National Historic Landmark built in 1820, the Taft is home to an outstanding art collection that includes European and American master paintings, Chinese porcelains, and European decorative arts. The Taft houses major works by Rembrandt, Hals, Goya, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner, Ingres, Whistler, and Sargent, as well as the greatest Gothic ivory sculpture in America.

The Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, a National Historic Landmark built about 1820 for prominent businessman Martin Baum, is the oldest domestic wooden structure in situ locally and is considered one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style in the country.

Other residents of this important villa included eminent attorney Nicholas Longworth, who hired African American painter Robert S. Duncanson to paint landscape murals in the foyer, now considered as one of the most important suites of domestic murals dating from before the Civil War.

After Longworth’s residency, the villa with a copper roof was purchased by David Sinton, iron industrialist and father of Anna Sinton Taft. After Anna’s marriage in 1873 to Charles Phelps Taft, the couple lived in the mansion until their respective deaths in 1929 and 1931. In 1908, Charles Phelps Taft’s half-brother William Howard Taft accepted the nomination for U.S. president underneath the house’s portico. The Tafts bequeathed their historic home and private collection of 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati in 1927. After extensive remodeling and updating, the Baum-Longworth-Taft House opened as the Taft Museum in 1932.

The Taft Museum of Art underwent a major renovation and expansion in the early 2000s and reopened in May 2004. The expansion included a parking garage, the Fifth Third Gallery for special exhibitions, Dater Education Room, Luther Hall performance/lecture facility, larger Museum Shop, and a Café.

Today, the Tafts’ distinguished collections are displayed in the Federal villa, which stands as the older part of one of the finest small art museums in the nation.

For more information on The Taft Museum of Art, please visit its website.

About Cincinnati

With both an urban energy and southern charm, the Cincinnati region has a vibrant and unique culture that flows from the Ohio River to the attractions, restaurants, and neighborhoods throughout the city and beyond. The Queen City is home to nationally recognized colleges and universities, making it an attractive place to get an education as well as a prime destination for those looking to start or continue a career, with nine Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city. Cincinnati boasts a vibrant community of livable neighborhoods, ranking among the top 25 best affordable places to live by US News Magazine. Several local school districts have been top ranked in Ohio and within the top 100 high schools nationally. Adding to its appeal, Cincinnati maintains a thriving parks system that includes more than a hundred parks and greenspaces throughout the city. Culturally, Cincinnati is home to numerous performance venues and institutions that span opera, ballet, symphony, and theater, and a thriving museum and visual arts community that includes the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center, the Contemporary Arts Center, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and of course the Taft. For additional information about the region, please see CincinnatiUSA.com.

Main Focus, Priorities, and Key Responsibilities

Our client seeks a Director of Curatorial Affairs who is a positive, highly organized team player who loves working with the public, is an avid educator, and has a passion for helping others learn and engage with the arts. The Director of Curatorial Affairs will report directly to the Louise Taft Semple President/CEO of the Museum.

This Director of Curatorial Affairs leads and coaches Curatorial and Collections (C&C) to advance the Taft Museum of Art’s mission of providing meaningful experiences by connecting people with great art in a historical setting and in the community. The person in this position directs and manages the exhibition programs, serves as the senior curator, and oversees the care and interpretation of the permanent collection and historic house. They assure a high standard of artistic quality for the benefit of the community, members, visitors, audiences, docents, and staff. They oversee long-term planning and daily functioning of all art-related areas and projects for the Museum.

The successful candidate will have outstanding interpersonal skills, a collaborative mindset, and will be highly organized, resourceful, entrepreneurial, an insightful and engaging public speaker, and last but assuredly not least, an excellent writer. The Director of Curatorial Affairs leads the C&C team of the Taft Museum of Art (TMA), which consists of the following departments: curatorial, registration, collections, museum editor, and volunteer-staffed library.

The next Director of Curatorial Affairs will be responsible for the following:

Leadership

  • As a member of the Museum’s leadership team, set strategic goals and vision, contribute to long- and short-range plans, make policies, implement and evaluate programs, and take all possible actions to support the TMA’s mission and advance its success.
  • Supervise the following positions: associate curator, assistant curator, curatorial assistant, chief registrar, registration assistant, senior exhibition designer/chief preparator, collections technician/preparator, museum editor, contract conservators, and library volunteers.
  • Manage budgeting and oversight of finances for curatorial, exhibitions, collections maintenance, and registration areas.

Exhibitions

  • Shape exhibition program by organizing, locating, and selecting and scheduling all exhibits in close consultation with the President/CEO.
  • Propose exhibitions to Board of Directors; negotiate exhibition contracts; generate and manage exhibition budgets; lead inter-departmental exhibition team.
  • Supervise curators and exhibition designer in planning exhibitions and in their interpretation.
  • Conceive and plan a self-organized traveling exhibition every 3–5 years, including conducting research and writing and editing catalog; oversee Museum publications; supervise museum editor; give tours of exhibitions; train docents on exhibitions.

Permanent Collection

  • Plan or delegate installation and interpretation of museum galleries; guide conservation and care of fine arts collection.
  • Evaluate loan requests from other museums; provide expertise on proposed art donations and accessions; monitor the accuracy of the art information for marketing, public relations, education, and other museum departments.
  • Decide who will serve as a courier on art shipments in consultation with the Louise Taft Semple President/CEO of the museum.

Art Objects Cataloging and Documentation

  • Carry out and supervise research on collections.
  • Publish articles relating to the collection; write and assign content-based articles for members’ magazine.
  • Supply internal art valuations as needed.

Development and Public Relations

  • Assist President/CEO and the Development team in making asks of prospective funders.
  • Offer special tours and lectures at member and donor events.
  • Review and occasionally generate art-related content for grant applications.
  • Give media interviews; review art-related content in press releases; represent Taft at local arts community events and cultivate the museum’s success in all ways possible.

Scholarship

  • Demonstrate commitment to accurate and insightful scholarship, high professional standards, public engagement, and accessibility.
  • Stay abreast of national and international best practices and share these with TMA staff; monitor legal developments affecting museums to ensure that TMA remains in compliance with laws and practices relating to collections.
  • Maintain active participation in professional associations such as AAM and AAMC; develop and maintain professional relationships locally, nationally, and internationally with museum and community colleagues, collectors, dealers, and auction houses; and work to increase the visibility of TMA in national and international arenas.

Taft Museum of Art Library

  • Oversee the operations of a small research library.
  • Coordinate on-going cataloging project with Public Library of Cincinnati.
  • Make limited annual publication acquisitions.
  • Ensure proper care of books and manage a team of volunteers.
Candidate Profile

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

Respect

  • Demonstrates excellent service by responding and communicating to the board members, staff, docents/volunteers, visitors, and others in a timely, proactive, and positive way.
  • Aware of how tone of voice and body language this impacts communication to individuals or groups, internally and community.
  • Demonstrates professionalism on and off the job; always represents the Taft Museum in a positive and professional light.
  • Listens without judgment; does not form a response until others have wholly expressed their thoughts. Values ideas from others, even when views differ from one’s own.
  • Ensures all sides are enrolled and listened to before reaching a conclusion or decision.
  • Recognizes others’ feelings and perspectives and takes an active interest in their concerns.
  • Understands and values each team member’s expertise, background, experience, and unique perspective.
  • Creates a pleasant work environment by being a positive influence and respectful to every person.
  • Understands and embraces the museum’s mission and goals. Models and reinforces core values of respect, integrity, excellence, creativity, and collaboration.

Integrity

  • Shares information accurately and promptly with co-workers, docents, board members, managers, members, and visitors.
  • Follows the policies, processes, and procedures outlined in TMA manuals to include, but not limited to, HR, Security, Facility, and Curatorial.
  • Builds trust with docents, staff, leadership, and others, so they are comfortable sharing their ideas and delivering “top box” programs and initiatives to the visitors.
  • Is impeccable with one’s word. Always conducts oneself in a trustworthy and ethical manner.
  • Has strong organizational skills that reflect the ability to prioritize and to perform multiple tasks seamlessly with excellent attention to detail.

Excellence

  • Demonstrates knowledge of the TMA collection; expert at the museum regarding upcoming exhibitions and the museum collection.
  • Leads a team of six curatorial professionals, to include: Associate Curator, Assistant Curator, Chief Registrar and Collections Manager, Senior Exhibition Designer and Chief Preparator, Assistant Preparator, Assistant Registrar and Curatorial Assistant.
  • Possesses excellent writing and technology skills to include Microsoft Office essential software: Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint; facility with adopting new technology.
  • Exhibits detail orientation with outstanding organizational skills and excellent follow-through. Understanding of urgency of deadlines and practical completion of time-sensitive tasks.
  • Demonstrates ability to achieve high-performance goals and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment, as well as the ability to work independently and with minimal supervision.
  • Is adept at analyzing facts, problem-solving, decision-making, and demonstrating sound judgment.
  • Possesses emotional maturity and ability to stay calm under pressure, smile, think on one’s feet, and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Focuses on delivering “Exceptional Audience and Visitor Experience” in all tasks.
  • Understands how to lead by example, demonstrating excellence and recognizing others for excellence in their daily work. Accomplishes projects independently with little need for supervision; takes ownership and accountability for personal performance.
  • Focuses on delivering the mission and top priorities for the museum.
  • Demonstrates high emotional intelligence, with the ability to connect with people and build highly productive relationships internally and externally.
  • The Director of Curatorial Affairs needs to be a highly effective public speaker and educator, capable of speaking in front of large groups. The Director of Curatorial Affairs interacts with the arts community and civic groups as an advocate for the arts and the Museum. The ability to communicate in a highly effective way, both in writing and speaking, with artists, other curators, and Museum staff, is critical to success and delivering the mission of the Museum.

Creativity

  • Demonstrates curiosity, initiative, and enthusiasm for learning about new information technologies, processes, current best approaches, and methods.
  • Proactively solves problems and enrolls the right teammates or docents to ensure alignment.
  • Is open to change and brainstorming possibilities with others, receptive to feedback and ideas from others. Flexible when encountering new ideas, opening up to the possibilities.
  • Coaches others to develop, grow, and learn; expands the capacity and capability of teammates.
  • Always looks for ways to improve work methods and procedures as a means toward greater efficiency and effectiveness. Thinks out of the box and is innovative in new learning and engagement approaches for adult audiences.
  • Demonstrates proactive approaches to problem-solving with strong decision-making capability.

Collaboration

  • Works with staff by enrolling the right people at the right time to deliver the right programs and information.
  • Embraces opportunities to do learning and engagement tours or programs, special talks, and to engage in development activities.
  • Communicates on a timely basis and ensures all are aware of any significant changes, with plenty of lead time.
  • Possesses high-level skills in interpersonal communications; connects with people and responds to organizational needs with a sense of urgency.
  • Shares time, energy, and knowledge with others to ensure everyone has the highest potential to succeed.
  • Communicates in a timely, clear, and concise manner to prevent misunderstandings and duplication of effort.
  • Resolves interpersonal conflicts constructively and in a timely way to ensure good relationships throughout the museum. Appreciates and leverages the strengths of others to accomplish mutual goals for the museum.
  • Demonstrates the ability to work with different personalities and thinking styles.
  • Fulfills their commitments to the team, is a team player!

Education and/or Experience

  • Advanced degree in Art History is required; PhD preferred.
  • A minimum of ten years of experience demonstrating more responsible positions progressively in AAM-accredited art museums, including managerial and administrative responsibilities.
  • A minimum of five years of budgetary experience required.
  • Familiarity with European Old Master painting,19th-century painting, decorative arts, Chinese porcelains and modern and contemporary is desirable though not essential. A professional network that includes curators in these areas of art is essential. Additionally, interest in and experience with incorporating contemporary art and artists within a historic collection and context is a plus.
  • Demonstrated record of excellent scholarship and origination of exhibitions as manifested in publications and exhibition catalogs.
  • Reading knowledge of two foreign languages appropriate to the Taft collections and speaking ability in one is preferred.
  • Experience with digital projects.
Contact

Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Naree Viner and Tenley Bank are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or email tbank@koyapartners.com. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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The Taft Museum of Art is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1976, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other applicable employment laws. The TMA is an equal opportunity employer and does not unlawfully discriminate against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of an individual’s race, color, gender, religion, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law. This policy applies to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including recruitment, hiring, training, placement, compensation, promotion, discipline, and termination.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.