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Job Listing: Associate Director of Museums

Job Postings ,

Washington & Lee University - Lexington, VA

Salary: $70,215, plus benefits

Applications reviewed starting April 3; open until filled

The Associate Director of the Museums oversees the staff, buildings, planning, work implementation, daily interactions, policies, and collaboration among the Museums staff. Reporting to the Director of Institutional History and Museums, the Associate Director also collaborates in museum planning, fundraising, public relations, and additional administrative responsibilities. In consultation with the Director, they will implement annual budgets, craft strategic plans, manage museum and gallery sites, hire part-time docents, and oversee public events.

The Associate Director provides expertise in current museum management and best practices in museum exhibitions, collections, and visitor experiences. Performs independent research, prepares historically accurate programs and produces effective and engaging presentations.

With roots that go back to the 1740s, America’s ninth-oldest university has many stories to tell. The Museums at Washington and Lee provide a view of American history and global cultures as seen through the story of the university and an unusually fine collection of ceramics and paintings. These stories unfold at three different sites: Lee Chapel & Museum, Reeves Museum of Ceramics, and Watson Galleries.

To achieve our mission as a liberal arts college, we continually strive to foster an inclusive campus community, which recognizes the value of all persons regardless of identity. The Museums at Washington and Lee are committed to contributing to an educational environment that is rich with cultural, social, and intellectual diversity.

Essential and Related Functions:

  • Supports the director in realizing the Museums’ mission and educating the campus and visitors to the significance of the Museum collections and the Lee Chapel and Museum. Assists with development and implementation of policies, procedures and strategic planning.
  • Works with the director to establish financial objectives and oversee the budget as well as prioritize annual capital requests.
  • In the Director’s absence, acts as the primary Museum contact. Ensures the Director is informed of any significant concerns. Resolves issues where appropriate according to Museum policy.
  • Works with the Museums staff to set priorities for each unit, to identify collaborative opportunities with faculty and other departments across campus, and to develop opportunities to work with the public and share the significance of the University’s collections, historic buildings, and institutional history, including but not limited to changing exhibitions, publications, websites, and social media.
  • Supervises museums staff positions including: Museum Program Coordinator, Shop Co-Managers, and Museum Operations Assistant. Responsible for hiring, training and providing employees with ongoing coaching and thoughtful performance feedback. Also oversees docent staffing model.
  • Manages all Museum sites through the establishment and supervision of opening and closing schedules, the management of repair and maintenance projects, and the immediate response to emergency situations. Works in close coordination with Facilities Management, Public Safety, and other assisting departments. The three primary exhibition spaces include: Lee Chapel and Museum, The Reeves Museum of Ceramics, and the Watson Gallery. Other spaces to oversee include several collections storage areas.
  • Oversees the creation and enforcement of disaster planning protocols.
  • Manages, schedules and supervises all university events and rentals (weddings) within all sites, working with appropriate staff on scheduling, and ensuring compliance of all museum and university policies at the events. These events will require occasional evening hours (usually once or twice a month, except Sept/Oct and Mar/April when it may be more frequent).
  • Ensures maintenance of Museums data and statistics. Coordinates with staff to effectively maintain visitation, collection and other appropriate statics for reporting.
  • Hosts regular staff meetings and represents the Museums at appropriate University meetings.
  • Closely coordinates with the Museums staff to ensure appropriate care for historic artifacts, buildings, and museum collections, including conservation.
  • Other related duties as assigned.

Required Competencies:

  • Strategic Thinking - Able to implement department strategic objectives into actionable plans and goals. Makes departmental goals and priorities clear to team and explains relevance to each person's job. Collects and assesses information on multiple and relevant factors to develop policies and make critical strategic decisions. Demonstrates a clear understanding of detailed financial factors that drive departmental budget (e.g., position requests, hidden costs, impact on morale) when considering decisions.
  • Change Adaptability - Understands the effects of change on the work group and proactively clarifies information to help them deal with a changing work environment. Identifies structural process, people changes and solutions to achieve change initiative goals and targets. Encourages new ways of looking at established processes and practices by soliciting ideas and recognizing/rewarding practical innovation.
  • Communication and Networking - Uses diversified styles of communication (e.g., explains by describing impact or circumstances, etc.) to influence and create buy-in for ideas. Encourages open expression and common understanding of ideas and opinions. Builds networks within and outside own department and leverages these relationships to execute specific plans and initiatives.
  • Drive for Results - Inspires learning within work group by identifying key knowledge areas and sources and facilitating knowledge sharing. Takes full responsibility for unforeseen delays/issues, openly communicates situation and quickly adjusts plans, resources for the best possible outcomes. Proactively looks for areas to improve quality of services to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • Talent Development - Demonstrates understanding of career aspirations of individual work group members and provides structured feedback to them. Encourages greater involvement and provides timely rewards and recognition for efforts. Builds informal relationships with work group. Encourages others to share issues that could hinder achievement of work goals.


Advanced degree in Museum Studies or equivalent field; professional experience in related humanities fields, such as history or art history, will also be considered. Experience and expertise in at least one of the following areas: museum management of an historic site with internal and public constituencies; public programming at an educational site or non-profit cultural organization; substantial curatorial background might substitute for site-level management. Must be a proven leader and have supervisory experience. The varied nature of programs makes it essential that the Associate Director have excellent interpersonal and management skills with an ability to create collaboration in a division and across boundaries. Effective oral and written communication skills, with experience in program marketing and community relations is essential. Strong organizational skills are required with the ability to handle complex as well as simultaneous tasks. Familiarity with legal aspects of museum operation and legislation affecting museums. Must have the ability to collaborate with university faculty, museum staff, professional colleagues, museum supporters, and members of the public. Must be familiar with computer programs such as word, excel, and Re:Discovery (or a similar, collections database). Must be able to respond to site emergencies during or after hours within 30 minutes for the purpose of resolving immediate concerns.

Physical Requirements:

  • Fingering: Picking, pinching, typing or otherwise working, primarily with fingers rather than with whole hand or arm as in handling.
  • Grasping: Applying pressure to an object with the fingers and palm.
  • Repetitive motions: Making substantial movements (motions) of the wrists, hands, and/or fingers.
  • Walking: Moving about on foot to accomplish tasks, particularly for long distances or moving from one work site to another.
  • Standing: Remaining upright on the feet, particularly for sustained periods of time.
  • Stooping: Bending body downward and forward by bending spine at the waist. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires full use of the lower extremities and back muscles.
  • Reaching: Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
  • Pushing: Using upper extremities to press against something with steady force in order to thrust forward, downward or outward.
  • Pulling: Using upper extremities to exert force in order to draw, drag, haul or tug objects in a sustained motion.
  • Lifting: Raising objects from a lower to a higher position or moving objects horizontally from position to position. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires the substantial use of the upper extremities and back muscles.