Director, Archives of American Art - Smithsonian Institution

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The incumbent serves as Director, Archives of American Art (AAA or Archives), with responsibility for the overall planning, development, direction, and management of all programs and activities of the Archives.  The Director will envision and lead the ongoing effort to ensure increased public access to the Archives and new collection acquisitions, including overseeing the continued digitization of the collections, and identifying new distribution channels and technologies.


Provides executive leadership and direction to all departments of the Archives in the planning, development, and management of the Archives programs and activities.  Formulates a vision for the Archives to achieve its overall mission, defines program goals, objectives, and priorities, in keeping with the Archives’ commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access; and issues policy guidelines, as appropriate, for program operations and consistent with extant Archives’ and Smithsonian strategic plans.  Develops and monitors short- and long-range program plans covering all aspects of the Archives operations, including new acquisitions, collections management, conservation, digitization, and dissemination, fundraising, external affairs, research, publications, exhibits, public service, and facilities management, where applicable.  Makes major policy decisions concerning the Archives programs, including matters relating to budget, staffing, organization, and facilities.

Develops and maintains standards and criteria for program development and execution.  Reviews and evaluates proposals for new projects and initiatives or major shifts or expansions in existing programs.  Approves or disapproves such proposals and provides leadership and guidance on improving the proposed programs.  Continually evaluates program operations and initiatives and directs management studies to achieve improvements.

Plans and directs effective fundraising initiatives to support the Archives programs and operations.  These efforts involve working closely with the Board of Trustees and identifying needs, assigning priorities and locating potential donors from private, corporate and foundation sources.  Plans and participates in the Smithsonian’s current national campaign, coordinates efforts with appropriate Smithsonian leadership and offices, and provides strategies to meet the Archives campaign goal.

Oversees the development, justification, presentation, allocation, execution, and control of the annual operating budget for the Archives.  Develops budget projections that reflect long-range planning for new and ongoing programs.  Reviews budget justifications for and presentation of proposed budgets to the Smithsonian’s Office of Planning, Management and Budget, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congress.  Continually evaluates the Archives operations and services, and initiatives or directs management studies to achieve improvements.

Directs and coordinates the activities of the Archives staff in Washington, D.C., New York City, and working remotely.  Develops and implements operating policy, standards, and procedures to assure the continued high quality of staff performance.  Develops and administers policies to achieve management objectives in such areas as staff development, labor management, employee relations, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity.  Assures that direct reports and subordinate supervisors effectively carry out their supervisory responsibilities.  Reviews recommendations for personnel actions affecting key subordinates, and acts on major personnel problems referred.  Initiates and directs major studies to improve organization, staffing, and operations.

Works closely with the Archives' Board of Trustees, its Chair, Executive Committee and various other committees to develop a strategic plan, broad operating objectives and policies, and overall fundraising goals and priorities.  Provides leadership and collaboration in the Board’s efforts in raising the profile and public awareness of the Archives and in developing national constituencies supportive of the Archives and the Smithsonian.  Works closely with the Board Chair on revisions to the Board’s by-laws and on the development of appropriate agendas for all Board meetings, including meetings of committees.

Per the ethos of “One Smithsonian,” encourages, explores, and develops joint programs in cooperation with other Smithsonian museums, research and educational organizations especially with regard to those areas identified in the Smithsonian Strategic Plan, as well as with universities, federal organizations, non-Smithsonian museums, and other cultural organizations, including arts institutions within minority communities.  Assures the Archives representation at national and international conferences and meetings, and on national and international art committees.  Renders expert advice and consultation to federal agencies, professional and other organizations.

Attends high-level Smithsonian policy meetings and conferences, making significant contributions to the development of Smithsonian policy and priorities.  Testifies at Congressional hearings on budget requests and other matters as required.


Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-Employment Background Investigation
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer

You must be fully vaccinated for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Have an approved Reasonable Accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements. Please see additional information regarding reasonable accommodations below.

The Smithsonian Institution has a mandate requiring all employees (federal and trust), affiliated staff (including volunteers, interns, and fellows), and the contractors who work with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of the employee’s duty location or work arrangement (e.g., onsite, telework, remote work, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If selected, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination by November 22, 2021 or before appointment or onboarding with the Smithsonian Institution, if after November 22. The Smithsonian Institution will provide additional information regarding what information or documentation will be needed and how you can request a legally required exemption from this requirement. This requirement applies to employees, affiliated staff, contractors who are working on-site, and those teleworking in whole or in part. Limited exemptions to the Smithsonian Institution’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be considered on a case-by-case basis for selected candidates who inform the Smithsonian that they cannot be vaccinated because of a disability, including certain medical conditions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers contraindications to the vaccine, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Additional information and instructions regarding Smithsonian’s COVID-19 mandate will be provided at the time of selection.


Applicants must clearly demonstrate the necessary level of managerial and leadership skills and competence to perform successfully in this position. This includes a degree in an applicable subject-matter field, or a combination of education and appropriate experience that provides knowledge comparable to that normally acquired through successful completion of a four-year course of study in an applicable subject-matter field. Advanced degree in art history or a related field with expertise in American art history preferred. 

In addition, applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-15 level. Specialized experience is defined as the demonstrated knowledge and leadership skills as it relates to managing programs and initiatives of a large museum, cultural or research organization.

The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrated skill in overseeing a range of programs that presents the history of visual arts in America, including, but not limited to educational and outreach activities, exhibitions, and online initiatives. This should include knowledge of or experience with archival or library operations.
  2. Skill in management and supervision, including budget formulation and execution, supervision of staff, financial management, and oversight of procurement.
  3. Demonstrated acumen with initiating, developing and stewarding relationships with board members, individual donors, corporate sponsors, foundations and government funders. This should include a successful track record of raising funds from individuals, foundations, corporations and governmental organizations through gifts, grants and partnerships.
  4. Demonstrated skills for leading and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce, including fostering teamwork and high morale, attracting, retaining, and mentoring staff, fellows, interns and volunteers, and implementing EEO/Affirmative Action policies and programs.

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