The Richard H. Driehaus Museum (“Museum”) seeks an experienced, exceptional and visionary Executive Director to lead its growing institution. The Executive Director will serve as the leader for the Museum’s distinctive legacy, while expanding its impact on current and future generations.
The Executive Director leads the Museum, oversees its operations and is the primary driver of the strategy to fulfill the Museum’s mission “to preserve and interpret Gilded Age fine and decorative arts and the home of Chicago entrepreneur Samuel M. Nickerson in order to promote the understanding and appreciation of historic architecture and the prevailing design philosophies of the time.” Advancing the institution is the primary goal for the Executive Director, who will be responsible for garnering support for the institution’s priorities, including serving as chief fundraiser for the Museum. The Executive Director will lead the development and implementation of a strategic vision and planning process for the Museum, in partnership with the Museum Founder and Board of Directors, to evolve the organization from its current multi-year strategic plan and operating model. The Executive Director will provide skillful oversight of all exhibitions, programs and operations, and promote innovative and thoughtful programming that engages the local community, visitors to Chicago and a rapidly expanding audience.
As the face of the Driehaus Museum, the Executive Director will have the gravitas, enthusiasm and ambition to develop and leverage a range of relationships locally, regionally and within the industry. The Executive Director is also seen as the primary advocate for arts and culture in the community and “speaks” for the institution’s collections and its exhibitions connecting the public to arts and culture. The Museum is proud to enjoy remarkably strong partnerships within the community, and the Executive Director will have the opportunity to continue to leverage and explore these partnerships while, at the same time, also cultivating new partnerships. Ensuring the continued relevance of the Driehaus Museum is a key priority, and the Executive Director will be charged with continuing to elevate the institution within the region, nationally and internationally.
The Driehaus Museum has a very well-respected Board of Directors and the Executive Director will be skilled in board relations to maximize the value and role of this dedicated group of stewards, including the Museum’s Founder, Richard H. Driehaus. Working closely with the Board, the Executive Director will continue to build on the financial success of the Museum, while enhancing curatorial ambitions and fundraising capacity in furtherance of the Museum’s vision. Through inspired, active and diligent leadership and management, and drawing on a well of experience and knowledge, the Executive Director will take the Driehaus Museum into the next phase of its evolution.
The Executive Director is responsible for fulfilling the Museum’s mission and its financial objectives by providing leadership and creative vision for its growth and skillful management of all Museum operations. The Executive Director serves as the Museum’s primary representative to the community, engaging and inspiring broad support for the Museum, and expanding its profile. The Executive Director will work closely with the Museum’s Board of Directors to develop and implement strategic goals and objectives, including a strategic plan to guide the organization for the next 3-5 years. As the chief fundraiser for the Museum, the Executive Director will lead the planning and implementation of a new fundraising plan and other advancement activities, and will be actively engaged in cultivating and stewarding current and potential donors. The Executive Director will plan and manage the business and financial affairs of the Museum, take a primary role in the planning of the Museum’s exhibition program, and will inspire, mentor and provide ongoing professional development for its staff.
The Executive Director provides charismatic leadership to the Driehaus Museum, with respect for its history and a creative vision for its future.
Collaborates with the Board of Directors to refine the Museum’s long-term goals, and create and execute an overall strategic plan. Engages the Board as active participants in fundraising efforts and in implementing the new strategic plan.
Provides inspirational leadership and well-conceived and executed management of the Museum’s staff and volunteers. Fosters a culture of openness and collaboration between staff, volunteers, and the Board of Directors so that each may be informed and enhance the other’s work.
Provides skilled and diligent oversight of the Museum’s financial resources and operations. Works with the Board of Directors to provide leadership, information, and support that enhances the governance of the Museum; communicates to the Board with transparency and high-quality information to support sound policy decisions and facilitate their fiduciary responsibility.
Fundraising & External Relations
The Executive Director leads the development and implementation of a fundraising plan that includes an annual fund, donor cultivation, appreciation and retention, and corporate relations.
Cultivates major gifts and sponsorships in support of the Museum’s exhibitions, programs, and general operations.
Embraces the role of chief spokesperson and advocate for the Driehaus Museum with professional organizations, funding agencies, businesses, donors, other museums and non-profits, and the general public.
Works closely with the Board of Directors to enable the Board to fulfill its governance function and energizes the Board to be full participants in fundraising and advocacy efforts and mentors and supports the work of the Board to identify, cultivate and meet with prospective donors.
Works in close collaboration with staff and volunteers to enhance the visitor experience before, during, and after a visit to ensure that visitors have an exceptional experience.
Continues to explore new ways to reach audiences, create innovative exhibitions and initiatives, and partner with outside individuals and organizations to develop meaningful, engaging programming.
Artistic and Programmatic Leadership
Provides experience, scholarship and industry stature in order to elevate the Driehaus Museum’s profile in the decorative arts and historic house communities regionally, nationally and internationally.
Serves as the primary spokesperson and advocate for the Museum’s dual identity of decorative arts museum and historic house museum.
Provides understanding and knowledge of the art world, specifically late 19th and early 20th century decorative arts and its key players, and has the ability to translate this into meaningful collaborations and exhibitions for the institution that speak to the community and national audiences.
Inspires and directs scholarly activities that elevate the Museum’s profile, including authorship of publications, and seeking industry and/or academic recognition for specific portions of the collection, or for noteworthy exhibitions.
Develops and implements the annual operating plan and annual budget of the organization as approved by the Board of Directors by working with staff to evaluate the day-to-day operational effectiveness of the Museum and align resources to fulfill strategic goals.
Creates a positive working environment for the entire organization, strong staff morale, and a culture of teamwork and mutual support among all staff. In collaboration with Human Resources, implements policies and procedures that ensure ongoing professional development, and motivate and guide a highly functioning team.
Develops budgets and works closely with professional advisors on the annual financial audit, tax filings, and maintenance of correct and complete financial records. With professional advisors, maintains the healthy operation of the Museum under all state and local rules and regulations and contractual requirements, keeping with the best practices and standards of collecting museums.
The successful candidate will be an accomplished leader with a background in museums or similar institutions, who has achieved demonstrated success in establishing and achieving strategic and mission-related objectives. The successful candidate will have significant experience in administrative leadership, including exhibitions, programming, fundraising, human resources management, and financial oversight. Keen business acumen, curatorial judgment, and the ability to be strategic with donors and key partners are essential to success in the position.
The Executive Director will model the Museum’s culture of openness and inclusivity in all interactions, and will be an empathetic leader, treating others with respect. An individual of integrity, ethics and values, this leader will inspire unquestioned trust. In addition, successful candidates will have knowledge of AAM/AAMD standards and practices, a Master’s Degree in a related discipline, and the expertise required to evaluate, care for, and steward the Driehaus Museum’s historic mansion and its collections.
The ideal candidate will have the following professional competencies and personal characteristics:
Strategic and Visionary Leader: The Executive Director will be a dynamic and charismatic leader with an entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit, and the background and skills to deliver on the mission of the Museum, partnering with the Board of Directors to create a vision for its future. This individual will be a proven strategic thinker with the foresight, capacity, and experience to understand and balance complex and discrete needs, agile in ambiguous situations and capable of providing stability and confidence when faced with important and quickly-changing circumstances, and a consultative thought leader to the Board and other stakeholders.
Mission Fit and Expertise: The Executive Director will have a passion for and commitment to the decorative arts, the mission of the Driehaus Museum and the Museum’s history, collections, and future. This leader will be driven by the emerging legacy of the Museum and by the opportunity to expand its impact in the local community and beyond. The Executive Director will be a strong advocate for the Museum and have the intellect, knowledge, experience, and training to represent and elevate the Driehaus Museum in the region, nationally and in the broader arts and historic house worlds. The Executive Director will have the expertise to curate and seek out world-class, compelling exhibitions for the Museum to expand audience engagement and to further enhance the Museum’s visibility nationally and beyond.
Expertise in Development and Fundraising: The Executive Director will be an experienced fundraiser with a measurable track record of success in development, and the expertise and mindset to build strong relationships within the community with current and potential donors and with the Board of Directors. The Executive Director will be a flexible, confident and self-motivated thought partner who will work with the Board to identify and devise a fundraising strategy for the Museum.
Business Acumen and Operational Expertise: The Executive Director will have a strong record of successful oversight and management of finance and operations. The Executive Director will promote a culture of excellence and high-quality execution at all levels within the institution, providing outstanding stewardship for the advancement of the Museum. Highly skilled in budgetary and personnel management, the Executive Director will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions, strategic plans or initiatives, and programs on the organization, and make sound recommendations accordingly.
Scholarship and Recognition: The Executive Director should have affiliations with arts organizations and speaking engagements at seminars, panels, conferences and other industry gatherings. The successful candidate will have achieved significant standing with peer institutions in their field and will have the stature to represent the Driehaus Museum to appropriate stakeholders.
Skilled and Inspirational Manager: The Executive Director will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a collegial, team-oriented working style, open and nimble in adjusting to emerging needs or shifting priorities. The Executive Director will have a proven record of visible and effective management and the demonstrated ability to professionally develop, nurture and retain a strong team that is focused on impact, excellence, accountability and efficiency. This individual will be a fervent motivator, able to inspire a shared vision, quality performance and strong morale, empowering and cultivating staff through active and effective communication, feedback and delegation, and will actively promote teamwork and collaboration.
External Relations and Relationship-Building: The Executive Director will have a compelling public presence, and be exceptionally skilled at developing, building, and sustaining excellent relationships. The Executive Director will have a demonstrated ability to connect with and build bridges among the various stakeholders at the Driehaus Museum and throughout the region, including staff, members, volunteers and visitors, the Board, and community leaders. The successful individual will have a high degree of public relations insight, serving as the outward-facing representative of the Museum, the ability to speak and write comprehensively about the Museum’s history, impact, growth strategy, and future direction to all audiences. This individual will have excellent public speaking skills and will feel equally comfortable and effective in presenting to small group as well as large audiences and symposia. The Executive Director will be considerate and open, working collaboratively to find opportunities for the benefit of the Museum promoting dialogue to identify best practices, synthesizing divergent views, and coalescing all constituencies around a shared view or plan.