Deputy Director for Engagement
The Brooklyn Museum (BkM) seeks a creative strategist and leader with a record of managing culture change to become its Deputy Director for Engagement (DDE). The Museum is committed to a vision of art as a powerful engine for social impact, connecting in-person and virtual visitors with compelling content that opens hearts and minds and advances opportunity and equity. This new leadership role in the Museum is crucial to fulfilling that vision while setting the Museum on a path of ambitious growth. Reporting to both the Museum’s Director and the President and Chief Operating Officer, the Deputy Director will oversee the areas of digital communications and engagement, graphic design, marketing, merchandising, public relations, and visitor experience. The DDE will join a leadership team that is inspired to make the Museum an agent of change and that is reimagining how the Museum connects with ever larger and more diverse audiences, around the corner and around the world.
One of the nation’s largest, oldest, and most innovative art museums, the Brooklyn Museum is changing the way it engages with audiences, offering participatory, interdisciplinary opportunities for learning and action, both on-site and online. The DDE will lead and amplify this transformation, in partnership with BkM leadership and subject matter experts from various disciplines including curatorial, education, public programs, and community engagement. The DDE will bring vision and drive to the delivery of fresh art experiences, attracting diverse audiences, and fostering interactive engagement to create inspiration, learning, social impact, and joy.
Isaacson, Miller, the national executive search firm, has been retained to support the Museum in this consequential search. Confidential inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed to the firm as indicated at the end of this document.
ABOUT THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM
With roots extending back to 1825, the Brooklyn Museum is a major attraction in New York City. In 2019, the Museum welcomed 725,000 in-person visitors—nearly double the audience of just a few years earlier. Their encyclopedic collection represents more than 5,500 years of artistic creativity, housed in a grand 560,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building designed by McKim, Mead & White and owned by the City of New York. The Museum has collections that are generally acknowledged to be among the highest quality in any museum anywhere, including the ancient Egyptian and African collections; the Arts of the Americas collection including pre-contact material culture, Spanish colonial painting, and Native American art and objects; nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; and the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World collections. The Museum is also home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the only such museum center of its kind.
The Brooklyn Museum is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by a 52-member Board of Trustees. The Museum has a total annual operating budget of roughly $41.5 million, employs over 300 total staff, and is supported by an endowment of approximately $160 million.
Always an innovator, the Brooklyn Museum has been egalitarian since its beginning as the Brooklyn Apprentices Library Association. Before the advent of free public education in New York City, the Association provided unemployed and undereducated men with a broad range of academic and vocational workforce skills. Evolving into a museum of fine arts, the Museum has launched many firsts, from artist shows, to being the first art museum in the United States to institute a formal education program, an in-house conservation department, and a photography school; build a large-scale collection of Korean art; and mount a major survey of African art.
The Museum’s mission is to create inspiring encounters with art that expand the ways we see ourselves, the world, and its possibilities. The vision is to serve as an institution where great art and courageous conversations are catalysts for a more connected and a more socially just world. Celebrating differences and learning about diverse communities through the lens of art collections, exhibitions, and programming is at the core of the Brooklyn Museum’s purpose. To learn more about the Museum’s mission visit https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/about.
Social Action Strategy
With the creation of a Social Action Strategy, the Brooklyn Museum is deepening its commitment to social justice as a core element of its vision. This plan is inspired by the recognition that Brooklyn, New York City, and the world deserve a great cultural institution that is bold and ambitious enough to embrace the challenge of going beyond social consciousness to become a potent agent of change. The Brooklyn Museum has committed to a sustained, multiyear effort to engage its audiences with issues that reflect urgent global themes, with serious implications for the Museum’s neighborhoods and city, and communities everywhere.
This commitment goes beyond one-off exhibitions, programs, and projects to a fully-integrated and in-depth approach to making and measuring change. In executing the Social Action Strategy, the Museum will identify relevant indicators of success and investigate methodologies for continually assessing the impact of the Museum’s work, ensuring clear-eyed appraisal and ongoing adjustments to achieve the Museum’s ambitious goals.
Since 2015, Anne Pasternak has served as the Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum. Anne has devoted her 30-year career to engaging broad audiences with the limitless power of art to move and motivate. As a staunch advocate for the civic and democratic roles our cultural and educational institutions can play, she has conceived and championed projects that demonstrate the crucial links between art and social justice.
During her time at the Brooklyn Museum, Anne has focused on strengthening the Museum as a center for the visual arts that is courageous and inspirational. With her generative imagination and insightful enthusiasm, she envisions and encourages new ways to link the Brooklyn Museum’s historical collections with contemporary ideas and pressing issues, including reactivated galleries that connect the conversations of today to collections of the past. Since Anne became Director, the Museum’s educational and public program offerings have expanded, and she has fostered remarkable special exhibitions, including The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America; We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85; Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power; and popular exhibitions such as David Bowie is and Studio 54: Night Magic.
THE CURRENT MOMENT
After closing to the public in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the Museum promptly pivoted to provide virtual content, began new community service initiatives, and planned for public projects that expanded its mission outside the gallery walls. The Museum piloted new rapid-response online resources for students and teachers, created digital collections tours and videos, and gave away 3,500 backpacks containing an assortment of art-making supplies and creative activities for children. Relief efforts were also a priority, from sending supplies to New York’s hospitals to partnering with the Campaign Against Hunger to operate a weekly food bank. The Museum worked with the New York City Census team to make sure community members were being counted on-site, supported voter registration efforts, and served as a polling site for local elections, as it has done for many years. A new Community Task Force was established to maintain an ongoing dialogue and fortify critical partnerships with the Museum’s immediate neighbors.
Virtual programming stimulated by the pandemic has begun to extend the Museum’s digital reach, which is now nearly two million people and growing. The Brooklyn Museum reopened its physical space in September 2020 with a socially distanced outdoor party to bring the community together as well as a robust slate of exciting exhibitions. In 2021, the Museum welcomed four new senior staff positions: Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA); Chief of Staff and Chief Legal Officer; Deputy Director for Art; and Deputy Director for Learning and Social Impact. The new executive staffing structure deepens the leadership bench and strengthens the connections among all departments at the Museum. The creation of the cabinet-level position of Deputy Director for Engagement is another crucial step to reinforce a collaborative internal environment and fulfill the Museum’s commitment to be a sector leader in inventing and executing a compelling audience engagement strategy.
The Museum has begun the work of creating its next five-year strategic plan. The current strategic plan, initiated in 2017, focused on building a stable foundation from which to set ambitious goals for growth and impact. The Brooklyn Museum will observe its 200th anniversary in 2025, and this monumental anniversary will serve as both a celebration and a call to action for the Museum’s bold vision for art as an engine for social change.
Reporting to both the Director and the President and Chief Operating Officer, the DDE will serve as the executive responsible for leading the Museum’s overall audience engagement strategy, with a critical focus on the digital experience. The DDE will lead the digital transformation of the Museum and ensure that the Museum’s major digital initiatives are successfully implemented across all divisions. As the global ecosystem through which art is consumed rapidly changes, the DDE will be at the forefront of ensuring that the Museum provides its audience, members, and new virtual members with a robust, state-of-the-art experience on all digital platforms. The DDE will be a thought leader, conceiving and inspiring support for new ways to use digital technology to make art accessible to a worldwide audience.
A key advisor to both the Director and the President and COO, the DDE will be forward-thinking, a proven champion of culture change, and a person who can successfully execute large-scale projects. Areas under the DDE currently have a total expense budget of approximately $4 million (not including third party marketing and advertising budgets for individual exhibitions and programs) and account for roughly $12.5 million in earned revenue in the Museum’s fiscal year 2022 budget.
The DDE will be responsible for managing a team of approximately 60 staff across seven departments. It is currently contemplated that the following positions will report directly to the DDE: Director of Digital Communications; Director of Digital Engagement; Director of Graphic Design; Director of Marketing; Director of Merchandising; Director of Communications; and Director of Visitor Experience and Engagement.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The overarching goal for the new Deputy Director will be to build and execute a strategy, with digital technology at its center, that will accelerate growth of the Museum’s audiences, intensify the impact of their engagement, and advance the Museum’s core business goals. The new Deputy Director will bring a deep understanding of the intersection of mission and market. They will be part evangelist and part teacher, as they leverage the enthusiasm of Board and staff members to infuse—rather than impose—state-of-the art methods to reach and move a larger and more diverse community of virtual and in-person museumgoers. Specific challenges and opportunities for the Deputy Director for Engagement include the following:
Catalyze change and maximize opportunities to build brand, visibility, and support for the Museum
In close consultation with the Director, President, and other Museum leaders, the Deputy Director will create, gain support for, and execute a comprehensive plan for target audience development and engagement that extends throughout the Museum, both on-site and online. The plan will aim to achieve worldwide recognition of BkM’s leadership in making art a vehicle for social change, and to establish the Museum’s reputation as the most welcoming, inclusive, and invigorating museum in the world. The goals in the plan will be ambitious, measurable, and achievable.
The new Deputy Director will be an advocate for developing new audiences and new ways of connecting with and inspiring them. A digital-forward strategy will advance achievement of all of the Museum’s strategic goals through delivery of content, understanding the audience, and improving each team’s ability to execute their engagement work across all areas of the Museum. A successful strategy will include leveraging the collections, exhibitions, and programs for meaningful audience engagement through digital content and collaborations with other organizations.
The DDE will have the opportunity to hire a colleague on their team to serve in the new role of Director of Digital Engagement. Continuing to explore different methods to reach audiences through innovative marketing and use of technology will be critical. This will result in measurable increases of engagement, including revenue generation, and greater recognition on local, national, and international levels of the Brooklyn Museum and its mission.
Play a consequential role in advancing the Museum’s financial goals
The Museum’s leadership are firmly committed to doing what it takes to achieve the highest levels of audience growth and engagement. That said, BkM’s resources are not as abundant as those of the very richest museums. The new Deputy Director will have strong business acumen and a record of deploying limited resources for maximum results.
The Museum’s new digital-infused engagement and marketing strategy will be expected to achieve ambitious earned revenue goals, and the DDE and team will be expected to provide best-in-class support for contributed revenue efforts.
Fully embrace Brooklyn’s diverse communities and the Museum’s extended audience while working toward social impact and change
In partnership with the Deputy Director for Learning and Social Impact, the DDE will develop and nurture opportunities for audience engagement to inspire agency and action on the specific social issues addressed in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibitions, public programming, and education. The DDE must be a champion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access who will inspire people from diverse communities to feel a sense of belonging and ownership in the Museum. Through embracing the Social Action Strategy, the DDE will lead with these values at the core of their work, both internally and externally.
Utilize data-driven analysis to increase engagement
Audience research and learning must be enhanced through the DDE’s specific vision, supported by digital technology as a tool to build audience appreciation for and community with the Museum. The DDE will develop and oversee the strategy for ongoing audience research, as well as employ data to design and implement engagement strategies to expand audiences and improve experiences and engagement. New systems must be created for measuring engagement and impact through research, feedback, and testing. The DDE will help identify where further resource investment is warranted to allow the Museum to achieve its full purpose and impact. A willingness to evaluate, an ability to think strategically and tactically, and an appetite for calculated innovation and risk will be critical.
Lead and develop a high-performing team and ensure ongoing excellence
The DDE will direct a team of highly skilled and steadfastly committed professional staff in effectively executing the new strategy. The DDE will demonstrate a full understanding of and respect for the team’s work in connection to strategic priorities and will promote cohesion and an actively shared excitement for future possibilities. The DDE will show how engagement and digital strategy can permeate the organization as a whole, helping to eliminate siloed thinking and creating a through line across the work of different teams and functions. The successful candidate will provide guidance and support as needed to their direct reports, ensuring that high standards of excellence are maintained throughout the organization. The DDE will also continually seek opportunities for all staff to stretch and grow as they carry the new engagement strategy forward.
The Brooklyn Museum’s Deputy Director for Engagement may come with a track record of audience engagement leadership in a cultural institution. The search committee is also highly interested in candidates whose experience and expertise in audience engagement and digital transformation have been honed in other fields, including for-profit enterprises. The successful candidate will exhibit both entrepreneurial drive and personal humility. The Deputy Director will be a consummate colleague with an inconspicuous ego but the confidence and dynamic energy to lead a bold strategy.
While no one person will possess all of them, the successful candidate will bring many of the following attributes:
- A deep understanding of and excitement for the Museum’s mission and belief in the power of art as an engine for positive social change
- A track record as a successful champion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access
- Ability to think big, instill confidence, and mobilize support for new ideas
- Demonstrated ability to strategically deploy limited resources for the greatest impact
- Deep understanding of audience/customer interests, motivations for engagement, and learning styles
- Experience in digital audience development and relationship building; data-driven in gaining audience insights through research and analytics, recommending action based on analysis, and executing seamlessly
- Strength in developing and implementing successful communications strategies
- Experience working with other executives across various functional departments to align foundational goals
- Proven ability to lead and inspire a large team, building consensus, fostering cross-departmental collaboration and communication, and bringing together disparate stakeholders to achieve clear and measurable shared goals
- Success as a leader within a complex matrixed organizational structure
- Strong financial management including budgeting and driving growth in earned revenues
- Goal-oriented and accountability-driven; ability to wisely restructure as needed, flexible and nimble management style
INQUIRIES, NOMINATIONS, AND APPLICATIONS
Confidential inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications (including résumés and brief letters of interest) should be sent electronically to the following:
Lisa Savereid, Partner
Karen Avery, Partner
Ryan Leichenauer, Senior Associate
The Brooklyn Museum is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by law.