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Aspen Art Museum


Nancy and Bob Magoon Director


The Aspen Art Museum is a non-collecting institution presenting the newest, most important evolutions in international contemporary art. Our innovative and timely exhibitions, education and public programs, immersive activities, and community happenings actively engage audiences in thought-provoking experiences of art, culture, and society.

The Organization

In November 1977, the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts was incorporated within the state of Colorado, and in August of the following year, the Board selected Philip Yenawine as its first Director. In summer 1979, the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts opened to the public with the exhibition American Portraits of the Sixties and Seventies with work from Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Chuck Close, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol, among others. Five years later, the Board approved a name change to the Aspen Art Museum and the following summer formed its National Council, acknowledging early the need to appeal to local and beyond constituents.

In 2005, under newly appointed Director Heidi Zuckerman, the Aspen Art Museum further refined its mission of exhibiting contemporary art under three main criteria: first-time US solo museum exhibitions by significant emerging contemporary artists from around the globe; solo exhibitions by important or established contemporary artists that focus on new, unrecognized, or underappreciated aspects of their artistic output; and group exhibitions curated to address prescient or topical contemporary cultural, social, or political subject matter. Works have been presented without interpretive texts.

The Museum rapidly saw a 200 percent increase in budget, number of students served, and annual visitors. A longstanding strategic goal to expand and relocate to downtown Aspen became pressing. Architect Shigeru Ban was selected, and property was acquired in 2011. Construction commenced in 2012, and the 100 percent privately funded campaign raised almost $70 million ($49 million for the building; $20 million for an endowment). The Museum opened in 2014 as Ban received the Pritzker Prize in architecture.

The new environmentally sustainable 33,000-square-foot Museum offers 17,500 square feet for exhibitions, a black box theater, public rooftop views and café, a shop, and education and administrative spaces. Aspen Art Press produces exhibition catalogues distributed nationally and internationally. An inspired gift from patrons Amy and John Phelan enables free admission and programming for all.

The Aspen Art Museum currently has an annual operating budget of more than $7 million, a staff of 65, and 100,000 visitors annually – up from 12,000 in 2005. In July 2017, the Museum was one of 10 national institutions to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Services for its educational outreach to underserved communities in the Roaring Fork Valley and the Western Slope.

The Museum relies heavily on events and private donations for funding. Held annually every summer, ArtCrush is the signature event for the Museum and has become an international draw on the contemporary art circuit. ArtCrush 2019 raised $2.3 million, with the event raising nearly $28 million in support of contemporary art programming over the past 14 years.

Colorado has benefited from a relatively recent investment in the visual arts, with the Aspen Art Museum the only major player outside Denver. In Aspen, the Museum is in respected international company alongside the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Center for Physics, the Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center, among others.

The Position

It is expected that the Director will be an inspiring yet pragmatic leader who can generate ideas as well as empower and support others to achieve them. He, she, or they will have the following priorities:

  • Develop, in close cooperation with the curatorial team, rigorous and critically acclaimed exhibitions, public programs, and events that maintain and expand the Aspen Art Museum’s position as one of the leading contemporary art institutions nationally and internationally; evaluate existing programming with a fresh eye and encourage programmatic innovation;
  • Evaluate fundraising efforts to date; conceive of new revenue streams including earned, sponsorship, and foundation support; propel fundraising efforts to diversify and expand private support for exhibitions, programming, and operations including inclusion of younger audiences;
  • Develop strategies for programs and exhibitions that increase attendance and the engagement of the AAM’s constituents with a focus on younger audiences; ensure integration of exhibition and education objectives; be actively involved in public programs;
  • Oversee Aspen Art Museum’s financial operations; develop its budget; ensure that staff and programming keep within the allocated financial resources; manage cash flows; provide the Board with timely financial data for budgeting decisions and fundraising plans;
  • Maximize the resources and impact of the Aspen Art Museum by engaging in cooperative programming and joint ventures with other institutions locally, nationally, and abroad; find ways to expand and deepen the AAM’s connection with a wide range of constituencies local and beyond; be an active participant and leader in Aspen’s cultural scene, and position the Museum as a convener and catalyst; identify opportunities to collaborate across a broad spectrum of Aspen’s cultural institutions;
  • Build and sustain relationships with a wide range of individuals from residents to artists to gallerists to collectors to cultural, business, and civic leaders; maintain long-term relationships with exhibited artists, connecting them to the Aspen Art Museum community;
  • Motivate and supervise a committed staff; advance morale and provide clear direction; delegate appropriate authority and hold individuals accountable for specific and collective performance;
  • Cultivate, solicit, and steward new and existing members of the Board; clearly communicate expectations and opportunities; identify ways to engage the Board as ambassadors to raise awareness of the Aspen Art Museum activities.
The Person

The Aspen Art Museum seeks a Director who is or will be:

  • An artistic visionary with deep relationships across the international contemporary art community; able to take and communicate well-considered risks to continue prescient programming;
  • Senior staff-level administrative experience in an art museum known for quality and excellence; comfortable in kunsthalle and traditional museum environments;
  • An entrepreneurial leader with powerful interpersonal skills; someone who can inspire internally and externally, collaborate, mentor, and delegate;
  • A willing, talented, and tested fundraiser who has the ability to build and steward relationships in Aspen as well as with the geographically dispersed Board and audience, with a track record of success planning and hosting sophisticated international-caliber events;
  • A self-starter with strong organizational skills and a proven ability to focus and prioritize; able to lead, organize, and support a staff, manage a far-flung Board and budget, and liaise with peer and funding entities; capable of developing and achieving sustainable operational and financial strategies that can support operations and the pursuit of new initiatives;
  • A compelling and effective communicator capable of persuasively positioning the sometimes-challenging issues often inherent in contemporary art to a broader public;
  • A natural collaborator with a track record of proactive community engagement and a commitment to the collective good; a resident who will embrace the unique opportunity, beauty, and resources Aspen offers;
  • Able to negotiate graciously yet remain clear, decisive, proactive, and fair; someone who possesses an understanding of the subtleties of motivating, directing, and working with committed and sometimes strong personalities, yet who can also hold his, her, or their own; an engaging professional who is committed to advancing the Museum and practices integrity, excellence, and good judgement;
  • Adept at harnessing information technology to support operations, exhibitions, and artists.
Please email applications or nominations to Sarah James and Becky Klein of Phillips Oppenheim

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The Aspen Art Museum is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) and does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership, parental status, military status, or any other non-merit factor.