Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University Taps Opportunity Resources to Find New Leader

August 20, 2020 – Executive search firm Opportunity Resources has been chosen to find the next executive director for the Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University (FSU) in  Framingham, MA. President and chief executive officer Freda Mindlin is leading the assignment.

“Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University is seeking a visionary, innovative and collaborative executive director to lead the organization as it embarks on its new life as part of Framingham State University (FSU),” said Opportunity Resources. “As its chief executive, she/he is responsible for the Danforth’s artistic excellence and intellectual direction.”

The Danforth (and its associated Danforth School) reopened in several steps with the school reopening in spring 2018 and the entire museum reopening in April 2019 in the state‑of‑the‑art FSU. Having lost its home in 2015 when the aging city-owned building housing the Danforth lost its occupancy permit, the board of directors and now-retiring executive director navigated the several-year, complex process to save and move the Danforth, its collection and the school – all while maintaining part-time programming and exhibitions.

The Danforth Art Museum’s new leader will report to the FSU vice president of development and alumni relations, who is also the executive director of the FSU Foundation, said the search firm. The Danforth executive director will be expected to have a close working relationship with and support of the staff of the FSU development office. Those reporting to the executive director include the curator, collections manager, visitor services coordinator (part-time) and membership coordinator (part-time). Students are employed in support of a variety of tasks.

Key Responsibilities  

The executive director is charged with developing and implementing the art museum’s strategic direction, said the search firm. The individual is accountable for all aspects of its operation, with special priority on planning, fundraising and campus and community engagement, in addition to programming, financial management and marketing.

The leader is expected to be an engaged member of the Framingham community and is the Danforth’s public face and ambassador; ensures fiscal soundness through significant fundraising and earned income; and is responsible overall for the proper stewardship and growth of the collection; ensuring use of the collection, changing exhibitions, programs, to educate the public and support FSU’s curriculum.

“The executive director will play a critical role in every aspect of the Danforth’s future success and financial stability as an important and highly regarded cultural venue in its new stage of growth as part of FSU,” said Opportunity Resources. “We seek an individual who will combine excellent people skills, managerial savvy and artistic perception. She/he will be enthusiastic, results‑oriented and decisive, with a collegial, team-oriented working style and an engaging public presence.”

Candidates must have at least seven years’ experience in a senior‑level position in an art museum or related organization with knowledge of curatorial, museum education, marketing and fundraising functions. A master’s degree in art history or another relevant field is required. Prior work experience within a university or college setting or similarly complex institution is a plus.

Required Qualities

Among the important qualities the successful candidate must have are a sincere appreciation for the Danforth’s collection, mission and role within and without the university, said the search firm. Also essential are leadership skills, a deep familiarity with the visual arts, programmatic creativity and enthusiasm for leading the Danforth to its potential.

Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University was established in 1975 by a local group of educators, business people, artists and art lovers. With a collection of American art ranging from the early 19th Century to present day, a primary focus for the Danforth is showing the best examples of contemporary art by both emerging and established artists primarily in New England. The new space at FSU has allowed the Danforth to showcase the Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Collection. Fuller (1877-1968) is known for groundbreaking sculptures depicting and celebrating African-American heritage, with her early work anticipating themes of the Harlem Renaissance. The Danforth is caretaker for the largest Fuller collection in existence.

New York City-based Opportunity Resources, founded in 1986, is a national boutique search and management consulting firm focused on finding leadership for not-for-profit cultural institutions. Clients include museums of all disciplines, visual and performing arts centers, university galleries and museums and related organizations. Among the firm’s clients are: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; Berkshire Museum; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Civitella Ranieri Foundation; Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head; Conner Prairie Interactive History Park; Corning Museum of Glass; Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens; International Print Center New York; National Trust for Historic Preservation – Lincoln Cottage; Orlando Museum of Art; Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill; Tudor Place Historic House and Garden; and Wisconsin Historical Society.

Ms. Mindlin, the firm’s president and CEO, has more than 30 years of executive search experience in the not-for-profit cultural sector. This includes several years when she was affiliated with Johnson Smith & Knisely and Ward Howell, two international search firms for which she managed their not-for-profit recruiting practice divisions. She has personally executed or supervised several hundred senior-level executive search assignments for museums in every genre, including history, science and visual art and performing arts organizations throughout the country.

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

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