The Wexner Center for the Arts (WCA) is seeking a Head of Exhibitions. The Wexner Center for the Arts is The Ohio State University’s multidisciplinary center for contemporary art and culture. Through exhibitions, performances, screenings, educational programs, artist residencies, and publications the Wex serves as a vital forum where artists test ideas and where diverse audiences engage the art and issues of our time. In its programs, the Wex balances a commitment to experimentation with a critical appreciation of the past. The work affirms the university’s pursuit of civic participation, freedom of expression, and robust dialogue.
The Wexner Center values diversity and offers a supportive, open, and inclusive community. Candidates regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status are invited to reply.
In partnership with the Executive Director, the Head of Exhibitions shapes and implements the Wexner Center’s curatorial objectives that advance the WCA’s mission to be the most relevant publicly engaged art center in the United States and a dynamic model for all others. The Head of Exhibitions reports to the Executive Director and serves as a member of the WCA’s Executive Management Team, actively participating in shaping the organization’s vision and mission while managing and leading the Exhibition Department and all aspects of its operations: production exhibitions and publication program, commissioning of new works, artist residencies, leading a dynamic exhibition touring program, leading research initiatives, planning, and managing a team of ten staff members, while collaborating and developing programs in partnership with other institutions nationally and internationally.
The Head of Exhibitions must be a flexible leader and astute manager with a collaborative spirit. They will be comfortable working within a nontraditional organizational structure that values cross-departmental collaboration, teamwork, and seeking new ideas continuously. Working in a collegial manner to build trust and respect in a team-centric department and throughout the WCA, the Head of Exhibitions will work closely with the Learning and Public Practice department of the WCA to actively seek out and produce new frameworks and contexts through which to engage them all audiences. The Head of Exhibitions will also work in close collaboration with other areas of this interdisciplinary center, including departments for Performing Arts, Film/Video, as well as other faculties of the university to ensure commitment and support of WCA exhibitions programs.
The role supervises:
- Curator of Exhibitions
- Manager of Exhibition Planning and Registration
- Manager, WCA Exhibition Design and Production
40% – The Head of Exhibitions will work with the center’s exhibitions curatorial team to commission new work in conjunction with select exhibitions, and to contribute to the selection of Wexner Center artists-in-residence. Manage the strategic direction of the Exhibition Department, ensuring alignment with the institutional strategic plan. Galvanize the Exhibition Department to create innovative exhibition content and exhibition programming.
The Head of Exhibitions will be expected to develop exhibition programs that pursue original ideas, themes, or areas of research; focus the presentation of works of artists; explore emergent artistic and cultural practices; and bring fresh insights to already established historical figures and/or practices. They will also review proposals from curators in the department as well as guest curators, helping to evolve these exhibitions, situating them within the overall arc and conception of the exhibitions cycle, and supervising their installation. The Head of Exhibitions must have excellent writing skills and place a high value on interpretive materials including brochures, exhibition catalogues, and public programs; they will be expected, as well, to assist in the production of promotional and advancement materials (grants and fundraising initiatives). With administrative and other assistance, they will oversee all aspects of the exhibition program (Plan, develop and oversee departmental budgets, policies, procedures schedules, and other logistical and production matters) for originally conceived exhibitions, those borrowed from other institutions, and those organized by the Wexner Center that will travel to other venues. They will anticipate co-organizing, importing, and exporting exhibitions with peer museums and art centers when key opportunities arise. Development and implementation of exhibitions program strategy and management of exhibition planning.
40% – Duties of the Head of Exhibitions extend to overseeing the exhibitions department, facilitating and ensuring effective communication and collaboration within the department among curators at all levels, administrative staff, registrars, exhibition designers/preparators, and technical support staff. Hire, train, manage, mentor, and inspire staff members to achieve the goals of the department and the Art Center.
The Head of Exhibitions directs scholarship, works cross-departmentally and collaborates with other programmatic departments of WCA (Performing Arts, Film/Video, and Learning and Public Practice) to leverage and reinforce the overall multidisciplinary profile and potential of the center and the position will contribute to effective communication across all departments at the center. The Head of Exhibitions develops and oversees the scholarship, content, design and production of exhibition-related publications for WCA (catalogues, gallery guides, calendars, invitations, and similar program materials). The position works closely with Learning and Public Practice and other departments to ensure accuracy and relevance of information disseminated about exhibitions. They also contribute to the development of interpretive programs and materials to expand, complement, and enhance exhibitions; with Head of Communications and Marketing and their staff they coordinate and ensure the accuracy of all content and arts-related information delivered to the public in the context of promotional, outreach, and advertising efforts; and with security staff on issues pertaining to safeguarding the works of art and the public in the galleries. Among these interdepartmental efforts, a key role for the Head of Exhibitions is in the collaboration with advancement staff on funding proposals, donor stewardship, and other philanthropic efforts.
15% – The Head of Exhibitions will maintain and strengthen the center’s regional, national, and international network of artists, institutional peers, supporting foundations and organizations, collectors, writers, critics, cultural commentators, and patrons to continually advance the center’s overall reputation. In collaboration with the Advancement Department, play a key role in donor cultivation to secure funding for the exhibitions, publications, and other programs. The incumbent must cultivate relationships with donors, collectors, and the broader art world, building support for WCA artistic program through fundraising efforts. In this vein, the successful candidate is one of the lead spokespersons for visual arts at WCA and the exhibitions and must be at ease in a highly visible and public position. They must develop civic, cultural, philanthropic, and governmental relationships, advancing the WCA’s mission in tandem with the strategic success of its operations, fundraising, and revenue plans. The Head of Exhibitions will also engage with the museum field and with academic colleagues at OSU and elsewhere, both initiating and responding to cross-campus opportunities for meaningful collaboration. Occupying an important position within the WCA staff and on the OSU campus, the successful candidate will represent the Wexner Center on various campus and community initiatives and committees, as requested by the Executive Director; participate in regular meetings as scheduled; and expand initiatives for community, student, and faculty engagement at all levels of program development and once an exhibition is on view.
5% – Other duties and responsibilities as assigned.
Required qualifications: For the position of Head of Exhibitions, a PHD or a master’s degree in art history or equivalent combination of education and experience is required, supported by significant scholarship in the filed including exhibitions and publications with a working knowledge of 20th and 21st century art, and a specialty in contemporary art being essential. At least 15 years of progressively responsible curatorial and art museum management experience and of experience in organizing exhibitions that demonstrate rigorous and original thinking, explore emerging artists and/or culture, and/or unearth/reframe historical figures or practices is required. A high degree of financial acumen and management experience is essential for this role.
Desired qualifications: Candidates should possess both excellent research and communication skills, including public speaking, writing, and a strong publication record; also significant will be a strong network of contacts in the field, including artists, fellow curators, collectors, patrons, and academic colleagues. A strong professional track record in museum administration, strategic planning and building collaborative relationships with demonstrable results is of paramount importance.
- Graduate or post-graduate degree in contemporary art, master’s degree in art history, curatorial studies, or comparable degree.
- Experience working in a fast-paced environment of museums or art centers, galleries, and/or other curatorial capacities in an atmosphere of continual growth and rapid change.
- At least fifteen years of relevant research and experience in curation, collection, and exhibitions.
- Excellent knowledge of 20th and 21st century art, with a strong focus on global contemporary art. Strong record or exhibition and publications, demonstrating expertise in curatorial strategies.
- Possess advanced research skills, and excellent management and organizational skills.
- Attentive to details and able to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
- Commitment to developing projects that engage the WCA’s mission and possess a willingness to embrace the WCA’s commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable institution.
- An open-minded and collaborative approach to working and communicating with all colleagues across the center.
- Excellent written, verbal, and listening communication skills.
- Strong staff management and mentoring skills.
- Ability to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, including staff, donors, trustees, faculty, students and community.
- Fluency in English. Additional language abilities preferred.
- Outstanding communication skills, including public speaking, writing, and proofreading.
- Proficient in Microsoft Office programs, including SharePoint, OneDrive, Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Teams.
- Expected to learn and become familiar with the university policies and systems.
Applicants, please submit the following:
1. A current and comprehensive resume.
2. A letter of interest describing why you are interested in the role, why you are a good candidate for the Head of Exhibitions role based on your experience, and why now is a good time for you to consider the opportunity.
Please submit all materials by March 15, 2024. All inquiries and nominations should be submitted to Allison Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.