Brent D. Glass Tapped by the Berkshire Museum to Find New Leader

October 2, 2018 – The board of trustees of the Berkshire Museum has retained Washington, D.C.-based executive search firm Brent D. Glass LLC to identify candidates for the executive director role at the museum. Van Shields announced his retirement from the position in June.

The search firm, led by Brent Glass, provides management consulting to museums, historic sites and other cultural organizations, working with more than 60 cultural, historical and educational organizations around the world. Dr. Glass is director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which he led for nearly a decade. He is an author, television presence and international speaker on cultural diplomacy and museum management.

“Dr. Glass brings to the Berkshire Museum deep knowledge, experience and understanding of museums and what is needed from those who would lead them,” said Elizabeth McGraw, president of the board of trustees. “We are eager to continue the work of securing the museum’s future for our community.”

Dr. Glass said he and his team are up for the challenge of finding a new executive director. “We are excited about working with the Berkshire Museum to find a strong, creative, and effective leader at an extraordinary moment for the museum and the community it serves,” he said. The assignment is expected to take six to nine months.

In 1903, Berkshire Museum founder Zenas Crane, inspired by institutions like the American Museum for Natural Science, the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, decided to blend the best attributes of these establishments in a new museum for the people of western Massachusetts.

Top Traits for Museum Leaders

“Museums, of course, have changed dramatically in the last century, particularly in the area of technology,” said Philippe de Montebello, the longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the third longest-serving director of any major art museum in the world at the time of his retirement in 2008. “But the traits and skills of museum leaders have remained essentially unchanged.”

Related: DHR Taps CEO for Phoenix-Based Heard Museum

“Despite technology playing a large and expanding role within museums today, leaders for these organizations generally need to incorporate the same skill-sets they always have,” he said.


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“These individuals must be the voice of the museum and that makes it essential to have an inspired leader in place. And these leaders require, now more than ever, top-notch fundraising skills,” he said. “They must develop strong relationships with donors and truly serve as the face of the institution.”

That is something Mr. de Montebello knows well. He served as both the voice and face of the Met as its director for 31 years. He came to the organization in 1963 as a curator in the department of European paintings and was named director in 1977. His legendary stewardship took off from there.

Related: Koya Leadership Partners Recruits Glazer Children’s Museum CEO

“One thing I’ll say about museum leaders of tomorrow,” said Mr. de Montebello, “is that like the great museum leaders of the past they must believe in not merely paying lip service to the primacy of art, they must be passionate and convincing about their museum’s mission.”

Museums Looking for New Leaders

Museums are increasingly turning to specialist recruiters to help fill critical, senior level leadership roles. And as these top positions become more sophisticated and complex, the hunt is on for top flight talent to fill these critically important roles. With that, search fees across the space are rising substantially, according to recruiters. Here’s a look at a few recent assignments taken from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

Aspen Leadership Group, an executive recruitment firm based in Aspen, CO, recently placed Bill Friedeman as the new chief advancement officer of the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The National Museum of Wildlife Art serves a variety of guests, from local families to international visitors, by providing access to outstanding art, and engaging them in enlightening programming. 

Opportunity Resources placed Della Watkins as the new executive director of the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA). Opportunity Resources is a national boutique search and management consulting firm focused on finding leadership for not-for-profit cultural institutions.

Noetic Search recruited Crystal Bowyer as the president and CEO of The National Children’s Museum. Rhyan Zweifler, president of the Chicago recruitment firm, led the assignment. Founded as the Capital Children’s Museum in 1974, the museum served children and families for 30 years in Northeast Washington, D.C.

Russell Reynolds Associates has placed Daniel Menelly as president and CEO of The DoSeum, a San Antonio museum for children. He came to The DoSeum from the Rochester Museum & Science Center, where he served as president and chief science officer. 

Related: Museum Search & Reference Lands Museum Director

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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