Saxton Bampfylde Lands New Leader for National Museums Liverpool

June 8, 2018 – For non-profit organizations, these are challenging days. Declining support from government sources, increased demand for their services and competition for donor dollars are just a few of the issues that charitable organizations must overcome to stay afloat each year. So it is that roles like national directors and chief development officers become all the more critical.

Museums are one type of non-profit that have been increasingly turning to specialist recruiters to help fill critical, senior-level leadership roles. Recently, U.K.-based executive recruiter Saxton Bampfylde placed Laura Pye as the director of National Museums Liverpool (NML). She will commence her new role in August, replacing David Fleming who has retired.

“I’m thrilled to be welcoming Laura to National Museums Liverpool,” said the organization’s chair, David Henshaw. “We’ve recently had our highest annual visitor figure ever, and with ground-breaking exhibitions including ‘China’s First Emperor’ and the ‘Terracotta Warriors’ and ‘Double Fantasy: John & Yoko’ it’s an incredibly exciting time for Laura to be joining us.”

Ms. Pye has been the head of culture for Bristol City Council since 2015 and has responsibility for five museums – Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, M Shed, Blaise Castle House, Red Lodge and the Georgian House. She previously worked at Warwickshire County Council as interim heritage and culture manager and learning and community engagement manager.

“Liverpool is home to a world-class museum service that offers an incredible range of experiences for millions of visitors each year and I am very much looking forward to joining a team with a reputation for excellence,” Ms. Pye said. “My aims are to support the growth of National Museum Liverpool’s already world-class reputation and ensure we continue to deliver an inclusive, inspiring and valuable service for all.”

NML has eight venues – the World Museum, Museum of Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Sudley House, Seized: Border Force National Museum and Piermaster’s House.

Founded in 1986, Saxton Bampfylde works with clients ranging from FTSE 100 companies and blue chip multinationals, government and academia to foundation trust hospitals, arts institutions and not-for-profits. The search firm has recruited new leaders for clients that include ACS International Schools, Kingston University, the David Ross Education Trust, Wycliffe, ACS International Schools, King’s College London, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and the General Dental Council, among others.

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.”

“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.

Mr. de Montebello said museum leaders must be the voice of their organizations, which makes it essential to have inspired people at the top. “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.”

“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. Here’s a look at a few from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

Boutique executive search firm Phillips Oppenheim has placed Max Hollein as the new director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He replaced Thomas P. Campbell, who stepped down last year. Principal Sarah James and partner Becky Klein led the assignment. Mr. Hollein previously led the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

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 thirty 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. 

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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