Vice President of Exhibits – Natural History Museum of LA County

The Context

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) is seeking to fill the position of Vice President of Exhibits.  NHM recently completed a major capital project that expanded our scope and our footprint, transforming us into an indoor-outdoor museum of nature, natural and cultural history. The award winning exhibits Age of Mammals, Jane Pisano Dinosaur Hall, Becoming Los Angeles, and Nature Lab as well as the 3 ½ acre Nature Gardens reflect a visitor centered exhibits philosophy that uses design as a strategic tool to advance visitor understanding of content. We feature and highlight our vast collections as the way into each story.  The VP for Exhibits will be engaged in strategic planning for NHM as well as in the master planning for La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and will collaborate with the executive team to extend our reach beyond our sites into the community of Los Angeles County and the digital sphere.  NHMLA seeks to build on our reputation for breaking ground on engaging visitors through our next phase of work, through our mission to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.

The Natural History Family of Museums

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) is a leader in exhibits and programs focused on how our planet and life on it changes over time and why it matters.  Located in the heart of Los Angeles, NHM serves one of the most diverse audiences of any museum, playing a critical role in inner city science and nature education.  Holding approximately 35 million specimens and objects—cared by a dedicated collections staff that includes 25 PhD-level researchers—NHM is one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of natural and cultural history collections, which serve as the evidence of the history of Earth and life on it.  After a decade of transformation, the Museum is an indoor-outdoor museum of nature and natural and cultural history that invites all visitors to meet our planet and explore our place on it.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire is the most important – and the only consistently active and urban – Ice Age fossil excavation site in the world.  A unique place based experience, a range of fossils trapped in the seeps 10,000 to 40,000 years ago are discovered, excavated, prepared and displayed in one place.  Research on the collections is important for understanding climate change during recent geological history, and helping us understand what we face in the future.

William S. Hart Museum in Newhall, California is a 22-room mansion on a 265 acre estate, filled with Western art, Native American artifacts and early Hollywood memorabilia.

The Role

The role of the VP of Exhibits is to guide the development of a robust program of traditional and immersive exhibit experiences that fulfill NHMLA’s mission.  As such, the ideal candidate will have experience with, and will be enthusiastic about, creating collections-focused and content-based exhibit experiences that are grounded in effective story telling and incorporate innovative media.  A robust and diverse program of permanent, traveling, and rotating collection exhibits are necessary to engage visitors in the science and cultural work of our curators and in advancing our mission.

Reporting to the President and Director of the Museum, the VP has a critical role in strategic and tactical development and implementation of exhibit and related experiences and will be called upon to inspire, develop and manage an excellent exhibits team.  The ideal candidate will be an effective coach.  The VP will communicate clearly with the exhibits team, inspiring them to do good work, stay within budgets, collaborate effectively with all other departments, and to meet deadlines. The VP will bring a fresh approach to exhibit development, involving new technology and digital content in creating dynamic forms of engagement in-gallery and on mobile devices, with the goal of sustainability in design and maintenance.

The VP will actively collaborate across all departments, especially with Research & Collections and Education in order to ensure that NHMLA’s exhibit experiences highlight the strength of our collections, feature the research of our curators, and are relevant to teachers and families.   The VP must lead the way in creating a collaborative process:  one that encourages early prototyping with the curatorial and education team, and one that also actively engages the marketing digital, operations and fundraising teams.

As a key member of NHMLA’s leadership team, the VP must have the capacity to manage budgets, engage in organizational goal setting, and address problems collegially, fairly and productively.   The VP must be driven by NHMLA’s mission.

The ideal candidate will be a creative force and an effective communicator at every level of the organization.  The VP will need to be comfortable with interacting with NHMLA’s Board of Trustees and Board of Governors.

Qualifications

• The demonstrated capacity to fulfill the role described above.

• 10+ years’ experience working in a museum setting, and wide expertise in exhibit development (both onsite and traveling), exhibit planning and management, and exhibit operations.

• Track record of innovation in design (digital and physical) that is content-based and centered on visitor experience.

• Significant management experience, with evidence of providing mentoring and opportunities for professional development.

• Experience with developing exhibits accessible to a diverse audience. • A great combination of competence, generosity of spirit, toughness, and humility.

• Passion for communicating about our natural and cultural world to the broadest possible audience.

• B.A. or B.S. from an accredited institution.  Masters or PhD preferred.

Additional Information

For the best consideration, please submit a cover letter and resume by July 1, 2016 on the NHM Career page at: https://home.eease.adp.com/recruit/?id=15266901.   The cover letter should address your experience in creating, designing and developing museum exhibits; briefly describe your leadership style; and define your experience in managing complex projects and budgets.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is an Equal Opportunity Employer