Skip to main content

The Contemporary seeks Executive Director

The Contemporary: Executive Director
January 2017

The Contemporary, in Baltimore, Maryland, seeks an Executive Director.

The Contemporary is a nomadic, non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, Maryland. The organization’s mission expands the idea of a museum as an incubator that commissions site-specific and subject-oriented projects, and engages diverse audiences through educational programming. The museum’s work is inspired by three guiding principles: artists matter, collaboration is key, and audience is everywhere.

Founded in 1989, The Contemporary has a legacy of fostering meaningful exchanges between artists, institutions, and diverse audiences. The museum has organized 97 projects and exhibitions over its 28-year history, including commissions by notable artists such as Willie Cole, Alison Saar, Fred Wilson, Dawoud Bey, Isaac Julien, Abigail DeVille, and more, as well as exhibiting work by Chris Burden, Dara Birnbaum, Louise Bourgeois, Futurefarmers, Ellen Gallagher, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Christian Marclay, Soledad Salam, among others. It has also created various ancillary programs as needed to support artists and patrons in the Baltimore region. A full history of the organization can be found here.

Dedicated to “redefining the concept of the museum,” The Contemporary prides itself on its nimble organizational approach and its commitment to risk and transparency. Currently, the museum divides its efforts between Programs and Resources. The organization manages four program areas, including Projects, Speaker Series, Scroll, and Get Your Life! Productions. It also hosts a number of resources cultivated to support Baltimore-based artists, including a Studio Visit Program, Equipment Loaning Library, Grit Fund, and Artist Retreat.

The Contemporary’s new leader will be able to build from a strong base and help shape the museum’s future.


With a full-time staff of five, The Contemporary remains committed to a lean operating base to maximize the potential of its activities. The museum is governed by an engaged Board of Trustees—its 16 members are artists, arts leaders, donors, and professionals from various industries. There are four standing committees: Executive, Finance, Governance, and Development, and the Board meets four times annually. Key focus areas for the new Executive Director will be to:

  • Drive fundraising while remaining ambitious in advancing the museum’s activities, brand, and public reach.
  • Shape the artistic direction of the museum’s programs in collaboration with staff and the Curatorial Advisory Committee, and work with partners to sustain artist resources.
  • Evolve The Contemporary’s ethos so that it may remain nimble, relevant, and distinguished.


The Executive Director will report to the Board through its Chair and work closely with the Board Executive Committee on the following priorities.


  • Operate as the organization’s chief fundraising officer to plan, direct and implement The Contemporary’s funding efforts including Individual Giving, Corporate and Foundation Support, Board Giving and Earned income, from identifying funding sources to cultivation, solicitation, and recognition.
  • Develop and implement significant on-going annual fundraising campaigns.


  • Work with the Board to develop and refine organizational goals and strategies. Deftly navigate arts, arts management, and funding circles and advise the board on potential opportunities and challenges.
  • Organize all meetings of the Board and its committees, and facilitate communication among them. Keep all trustees informed through periodic communication and internal reports. Leverage strengths and talents of the Board to advance The Contemporary’s mission and goals.


  • Allocate resources to reflect the operating priorities approved by the Board.
  • Cultivate, manage, recruit, and retain a small and talented professional staff, contractor, volunteer and intern team engaged with program design and production, donor management, marketing and communications, and finance and administration. Foster a collaborative, efficient and positive workplace for The Contemporary.
  • Develop metrics of success and performance, and regularly evaluate all activities.
  • Closely manage The Contemporary’s budgets and finances, and oversee all administration in compliance with relevant state and federal rules and regulations. Work closely with the Finance Committee to prepare annual and multi-year budgets and provide timely and accurate financial reports to the Board.


  • Work closely with staff to maintain existing programs and resources, as well as develop new mission-driven initiatives, and ensure that all activities are kept within budget and on deadline. Act as the chief creative director, oversee all programming efforts and intentions.
  • Remain informed of global art trends and topics in efforts to keep programming current, as well as maintain close relations with Baltimore’s local arts community to ensure that programming is relevant and responsive.
  • Manage relations with artists diplomatically and sensitively and have a strong understanding of the complexities of commissioning new work by living artists.
  • Ensure successful implementation of all aspects of The Contemporary’s programming agenda including scheduling, outreach, budget, coordination with partnering organizations/venues, attendance, publicity and communication.
  • Utilize evaluative tools to assess programming effectiveness, and leverage data collected to improve future programming.


  • Work with staff and contractors to drive awareness of The Contemporary’s activities to the general public through web-based, social media, and traditional avenues. Develop strong relationships with local, national, and global press outlets to broaden the museum’s reach and audience.
  • Serve as an articulate and persuasive spokesperson for The Contemporary to increase awareness of the museum, to reinforce the institutional mission and illustrate the institutional brand via interviews, conferences, and other public forums.


The Executive Director should have the following characteristics and experience:

  • A minimum of three years of experience in fundraising and program design with special emphasis in program design on commissions that demonstrate the best in contemporary visual and performing arts practice. Strong experience identifying and cultivating donors is important.
  • Demonstrated experience as an advocate of contemporary art with an emphasis on the importance of contemporary art to society, be someone who is personally invested in connecting art to the public and the public to artists.
  • A deep understanding of the issues involved in art commissions. Preferred experience as a professional who has managed arts organizations, performing arts companies, residency programs, museums, exhibition spaces, and/or presenting organizations.
  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills. Must be able to speak effectively on behalf of The Contemporary with wisdom and passion.
  • A problem-solver with sensitivity to deadlines, a keen design eye, and excellent sense of quality. Must be results-oriented, excellent at planning and organizing, and with strong team management skills.
  • A hard worker with a desire to be ‘hands-on’ in executing all functions of the museum from the big picture to the internal day-to-day. A mature leader who is energetic, charismatic, and devoted. Someone with a sense of humor who can easily connect with partners, donors, patrons, staff, and Board.

Salary is commensurate with experience, negotiable benefits package. To apply, please email a detailed letter of interest, resume, and three reference contacts to Terry Squyres, Board President at [email protected] by Wednesday, March 1, 2017. For inquiries, please email questions to [email protected].

Become a Member

As a member of GBCA, you will not only gain access to wonderful benefits, but you will also become an active participant in a broader cultural community. Your organization and employees will directly benefit from opportunities to collaborate, connect, learn, network and share with your colleagues in the cultural community. Join our growing constituency of over 300 individual artists and organizations representing the region's extraordinary range of arts, culture, history, heritage, humanities, and attractions.

Join Today