The Walker Art Center is a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences. Focusing on the visual, performing, and media arts of our time, the Walker takes a global, multidisciplinary, and diverse approach to the creation, presentation, interpretation, collection, and preservation of art. Walker programs examine the questions that shape and inspire us as individuals, cultures, and communities.
More than 125 years ago, in 1879, Thomas Barlow (T. B.) Walker built a room onto his house, mounted his favorite paintings on the walls, and opened his door to everyone who wanted to come in. It was a modest start for a contemporary art center now recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement. Increasingly, this ability to link ideas from different disciplines and art forms is seen as the model for cultural institutions of the future. www.walkerart.org
The Walker’s legacy and future rest in its ability to lead the mapping of that cultural terrain today and for generations to come. The Board is proud of the influential role its Directors have played in the field to achieve this and has made clear its commitment to support this Director so that s/he and the Walker excel.
TODAY: PROGRAMMING AND PRESENTING THE COLLECTION
The Walker has five program areas: visual arts, performing arts, moving image, education and public programs (including https://mnartists.org), and design. The Walker has made a name by being first to collect, show, and sponsor a number of now-recognized important artists, genres, and programs http://media.walkerart.org/pdf/WAC.PR.Timelineupdate.pdf.
On site, the Walker has several dedicated programming spaces: a 385-seat performing arts theater, a 340-seat cinema, a 70-seat mediatheque, and 11 galleries totaling 40,000 square feet of gallery space. Additional on-site programming spaces are the education art lab, lounge space, main lobby, Wurtele Upper Garden, and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The Walker collection includes almost 15,000 artworks made by more than 3,000 artists. The Walker’s acquisition endowment yields a substantial annual draw for purchases. The institutional endowment is approximately $200 million for a $20-plus million operating budget, which the Walker balanced for the 36th consecutive year last year. There are 115 full-time and 35 part-time staff, for an average constant of 150 total. The director, chief of operations, and chief curator roles are currently vacant.
The Walker’s seven-acre campus is made up of two interconnected buildings, the Barnes building and the 2005 Herzog & de Meuron expansion, as well as the 2017 Wurtele Upper Garden. After being closed for renovation, the new entrance reopened in November 2016 and the hillside reopened alongside the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in June 2017. In addition to the programming spaces, there are rooftop terraces, several rental spaces, and an acclaimed restaurant operated by a food and beverage management company.
After a yearlong reconstruction period, the 12-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopened to the public in June 2017. The Garden is a public/private partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). There are currently 60 sculptures installed in the Garden; the Walker maintains these artworks, but the MPRB is responsible for maintaining the park grounds and other amenities. More than 16,000 individuals visited the Garden the very first day it opened, and nearly 150,000 visitors strolled through the site during the opening month of June alone.
For those unable to visit in person, the Walker launched a new website on June 22, 2017, featuring more user-friendly, streamlined navigation and visibility for visitor information. Some two million users visited the Walker’s websites this fiscal year, which include www.walkerart.org and www.mnartists.org. Supporting the Walker’s commitment to accessibility, more than 70 percent of audiences visited free of charge through gateway programs – such as Free First Saturday and Target Free Thursday Nights – and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Moreover, an active collaborator, the Walker sustained more than 100 partnerships and presentations with cultural, research, and service organizations, contributing to the vibrancy of our community.
The Director of the Walker is a flag-flying champion for The New, eager and ready to chart a dynamic course for the arts internationally yet committed to rendering it relevant to the local community.
The Walker is financially sound, having completed a successful capital campaign and major building project, so the Director, with unwavering and enthusiastic Board support, may build on the Walker’s storied history of pushing the envelope programmatically. The Director is responsible for the artistic vision, strategic and financial direction, and overall management of the Walker. S/He will, with staff and Trustees, realize the full potential of the 19-acre Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus as an artistic, social, and virtual hub.
The Director will partner with a dedicated team and Board, of which there are 43 Public Trustees, seven Walker family members, seven Honorary Trustees, and 22 National Advisory Board members. Honorary Trustees and National Advisory Board members do not have voting power. There are 11 Board committees, one Board task force, and three affinity groups.
Specific objectives in support of the above include:
SPECIFIC EXTERNAL PRIORITIES
- Assert the Walker’s role in advancing contemporary arts and culture; expand the rules of engagement for artists and audiences in response to dramatic shifts in artistic practice and innovation;
- Solidify the Walker’s institutional identity through important programs and acquisitions, and overall visibility regionally, nationally, and internationally;
- Execute a multifaceted fundraising operation that builds community, civic support, and trust along with financial security;
- Invest the time and resources in scholarship to ensure that the Walker supports brave new work;
- Continue to define the Walker’s audiences clearly and expansively; offer and implement compelling strategies for diverse audience engagement;
- Continue to enhance the visitor experience; use technology as an innovative strategy to set the Walker apart as an institution on the cutting edge in visitor experience;
- Develop collaborative relationships with established and emerging members of the region’s communities, as well as institutional peers and leaders in the global art world.
SPECIFIC INTERNAL PRIORITIES
- Establish and foster a transparent and collaborative culture, include open communications with staff and Trustees and across the organization;
- Ensure and promote a diverse and inclusive Walker, in staffing, culture, programming, and outreach;
- Cultivate relationships with artists and emerging movements in contemporary art;
- Supervise, support, retain, and recruit a highly qualified professional staff; delegate responsibilities and authority appropriately;
- Hold all individuals accountable for specific and collective performance, provide direction, and enhance morale;
- Develop close relationships with the Trustees, find ways to bring forth new ideas and resources from each;
- Lead Trustees and staff in an inclusive process to refine and execute its strategic plan to now end on June 30, 2019, and craft its next one;
- Champion institutional best practices with respect to governance, programming, collections, and facilities.
The Director must be a leader and an ambassador with an informed eye and compelling vision to represent the Walker in local, national, and international arenas. S/He must have or possess:
- A passionate love of art, scholarship, and education; deeply committed to the multidisciplinary nature of the Walker;
- An innovator, with a vision for the future of museums and how to realize it;
- An enthusiastic and effective fundraiser;
- Proactive and committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Accessible and collaborative, generous of spirit, outgoing, and one who enjoys the social demands of the Director’s role;
- Strong organizational skills, effective under pressure, and adept at constant multitasking;
- The experience and ability to manage financial operations;
- Credibility and extensive experience in the field, and the networks to support both;
- Excellent written and communication skills, inclusive and astute;
- Good judgment and integrity; compassionate yet decisive;
- An entrepreneurial spirit with a track record of coalescing others around objectives and their successful implementation.
Please send applications or nominations to Sarah James or Becky Klein at Walker@PhillipsOppenheim.com.