Nurturing Leadership in the Art World

A two–week Columbia Business School Executive Education program aims to train the next generation of museum directors.

November 28, 2007
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Columbia Business School Executive Education is partnering with the Center for Curatorial Leadersnip (CCL), a new organization that prepares museum curators to assume the responsibilities of museum directors.

Although candidates for museum directorships have traditionally risen from the curatorial ranks, the demands of the job have changed. Increasingly — and at a time when some two dozen directorships across the country are open — museum trustees are unlikely to consider candidates who lack fund-raising and managerial skills.

In January, 10 fellows selected by the CCL will convene in New York for an intensive, two-week program led by Columbia Business School faculty members that will include courses in nonprofit management, finance, budget analysis, fund-raising, board development, communications and conflict resolution. The fellows will be fully funded by the CCL.

“This collaboration provides the opportunity to bring the School’s expertise in management and finance to the curatorial world,” said Ray Horton, the Frank R. Lautenberg Professor of Ethics and Corporate Governance and faculty director of the Center for Curatorial Leadership Program. “Our curriculum will round out the curators’ deep fundamental art knowledge with rigorous training in the fundamentals of business, making them more competitive candidates for directorships.”

The New York session will be followed by a one-week residency at a major museum in the spring and a final week of study in Los Angeles in June. The CCL will also host executive leadership seminars throughout the year, bringing together directors, trustees and curators to share information about key issues facing the museum world. Fellows will receive a certificate upon completion of the program.

Selected by a small committee of current and former museum directors, the 10 fellows are leading curators from museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and Elizabeth Easton, former chair of the department of European Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, founded the CCL in June and assembled an advisory board that includes Philippe de Montebello, director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Timothy Potts, director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth; and Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Because Gund is funding the center for its first three years, the program will be free for curators and the museums where they work.

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