San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Director of Marketing and Communications — Completed

Congratulations to Jennifer Northrop and SFMOMA for the successful conclusion of this search.

View Full Description: SFMOMA Director of Marketing & Communications Position Description

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

      Director of Marketing and Communications

Position Description

 Painter Executive Search is supporting SFMOMA in their search for forward-thinking, experienced Director of Marketing and Communications to support the transformation of SFMOMA as it fulfills the promise of its new brand platform and prepares for and opens its re-designed home.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will re-open in spring 2016, after a 3-year expansion. The new building allows for continued growth of their existing collection, programs, and audiences and showcases the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. The centerpiece of SFMOMA’s expansion is the dynamic design developed in collaboration with the architectural firm Snøhetta. The approximately 235,000-square-foot expansion seamlessly joins the existing Mario Botta-designed building with a new addition spanning from Minna to Howard Streets. It more than doubles the current capacity for the presentation of art and provides almost six times as much public space as the current building.

The external physical transformation of SFMOMA is mirrored internally. With support from the branding firm Wolff Olins, SFMOMA developed a brand platform that illuminates the core values of the museum and reflects the open and transparent attributes of the new building. Those values position SFMOMA as a gateway to the art for our time, and encourage participatory experiences which welcome, illuminate and surprise visitors, making the art a vital and meaningful part of public life.

Important changes are underway across the organization with interdisciplinary teams creating strategies and plans to build upon the ambitions of the museum. Hierarchical models are giving way to collaborative, project driven efforts to build programs and experiences, and creating opportunities for experimentation and data-driven focus on audience engagement. With these internal shifts, SFMOMA’s marketing and communications has the opportunity to influence and engage key internal leaders in deeper conversations about audience development and visitor experiences both at the new site and online. It will be Marketing and Communications that maps and articulates the re-introduction of the museum to the public through external communications, marketing, and visitor services and ensures that the visitor experience is one that will build lasting engagement.


The Director of Marketing and Communications (Director M & C) is a vital member of SFMOMA’s senior leadership team and plays a significant role in the museum’s expansion. She or he is responsible for implementing the newly created brand strategy, further developing market intelligence, and leading all marketing, internal and external communications, publications, community partnership, audience development, social media and visitor service initiatives. The Director of M & C will also provide recommendations to the museum Director and senior management team on the enhancement of the museum’s reputation and visibility.

The Director of M & C will be responsible for generating a significant percentage of the museum’s operating budget through attendance-based revenue streams including over 1 million visitors who are anticipated during its opening year and 850,000 targeted annually thereafter. This position is the lead liaison with the Marketing and Communications Committee of the Board of Trustees, and works closely with the Museum Director and Deputy Museum Directors. The Director of Marketing and Communications collaborates extensively with other departments, including Curatorial, Education and Public Programs as well as the Content Services-Digital Engagement Group. The position reports to the Deputy Museum Director, External Relations, and works collaboratively with the Director of Development to advance the audience and income goals of the institution, as well as directly with the  Deputy Director of Curatorial affairs and with curatorial staff to support the presentation of content and increase audience accessibility.

The Director of M & C currently manages a 16 member team which will grow substantially as the Visitor Services group builds to full capacity in preparation for the museum’s re-opening. Working closely with a core team of six direct reports, the Director of M & C leads a department of internal experts delivering marketing, communications, editorial, community relations and visitor services. Currently, Marketing and Communications staff is deeply engaged in many cross-departmental initiatives including development of the new website, visitor experience and visitor services planning, as well as programming and exhibition planning. Marketing is responsible for leading continued efforts to rollout the brand principles including the development of targeted messages. Meeting the critical benchmarks for the museum opening will require strong leadership and the ability to deepen collaboration and team development both within the department and across the organization.

As the SFMOMA expansion proceeds, the Director of M & C will play an instrumental role in re-introducing the expanded museum, and ensuring that the experience of the new museum, digitally, in print, and in person reflects the brand identity. Working closely with the M & C staff, museum leadership team and the Board of Trustees, she or he will have the opportunity to:

  • Illuminate and embed core branding principals across the organization to meet strategic imperatives including growing visitors to a sustainable 850K annually;
  • Implement a new visitor experience strategy that engages the entire organization in designing and delivering an exceptional encounter with art;
  • Expand digital engagement and marketing initiatives to create the new museum as a destination;
  • Drive outreach to new audiences and support the development and communication of content in order to engage diverse audiences;
  • Build the Marketing and Communications team to prepare and successfully re-open the museum;
  • Leverage the new CRM, Tessitura, to build knowledge and strategies to grow audience and develop excellent visitor experiences;
  • Introduce the new museum to the public, aligning all marketing, advertising, communications and visitor experience to the aspirations inherent in the brand identity.

The transformation of the internal organization during this physical expansion is significant. A passionate, articulate advocate for audience development with a clear, data-oriented approach will make a significant impact on the institution. During this intense time of preparing for the re-opening, the Director M & C will need significant management skills, both in project management and in team-building. A successful candidate will be tenacious, having both a deep comfort with the value of their expertise and a pragmatic approach to problem-solving.

Organizational History and Culture

Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was a pioneer as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art – championing the most innovative and challenging art for its time. Moving to its current location in the South of Market neighborhood in 1995, the building’s bold design features a soaring atrium topped by the signature turret and oculus skylight. The years since 1995 have been a time of tremendous growth at SFMOMA. The museum’s collection has more than doubled in size, annual attendance has tripled, and membership has grown apace. The exhibition program has become one of the world’s strongest, organizing groundbreaking shows that travel to leading museums internationally.

With the addition of the renowned Fisher Collection to their already extraordinary works, SFMOMA has become one of the greatest modern and contemporary art museums in the world. This private collection includes a who’s who of the post-1960s art world, and a singular destination for this period globally. In addition, over 1,000 additional works of art have been promised to the museum in an extraordinary collections campaign.

SFMOMA has a talented and highly ambitious staff who engage in a professional and somewhat academic manner. The organization deeply values curatorial content, illuminating art and artists with serious and thoughtful presentation. Operating successfully in this environment requires significant interpersonal skills and a commitment to developing trust among collaborators by sharing an appreciation of the value of contemporary art, deeply listening to the needs of partners and providing well-delivered analysis and fresh approaches to achieving common goals. A communication style based on influencing and exploring common goals will be much more successful than one that relies upon directives or exercising authority.

Director of Marketing and Communications



  • Serve as a member of the museum’s senior staff and act as primary liaison to the Marketing and Communications Committee of the Board of Trustees;
  • Lead the development and implementation of integrated strategies, plans and campaigns for the museum’s marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, and social media activities;
  • Model and facilitate open dialogue within the department, with internal and external partners, and with diverse audiences;
  • Ensure that the institutional vision and values are successfully expressed and extended through all initiatives; be the brand advocate working to align operating strategies with organizational core values;
  • Be an external face of SFMOMA; effectively represent the museum with a broad array of constituents, including promotional partners, and community, arts and business leaders;
  • On occasion, participate in and/or facilitate the representation of the museum at exhibition openings, events, engaging directly with the media, both foreign and domestic;
  • Be a reliable and valued colleague who offers thoughtful analysis, thinks strategically and is practical and approachable.


  • Recruit, nurture and challenge a highly-qualified and motivated professional staff; delegate specific responsibilities with appropriate authority and establish accountability and clear lines of communication;
  • Bring relevant research, data, and analysis of industry trends to museum leadership and analyzes its significance to the museum;
  • Develop and maintain budgets for all M & C department operations and activities;
  • In partnership with the Deputy Museum Director, External Relations and the Deputy Museum Director, Administration and Finance, develop attendance projections and help to ensure that the museum achieves its attendance-based income goals;
  • Collaborate across the museum to develop and implement a corporate sponsorship and community partnership program;
  • Foster and maintain a network of contacts with counterparts at museums locally, nationally and internationally; other regional arts organizations; as well as marketing and communications professionals in the corporate sector;
  • In consultation with the Deputy Director External Relations, retains and supervises outside consultants.

Marketing and Editorial

  • Champion the rollout of the brand principles by building tools to facilitate the integration of brand awareness into departmental planning and program execution;
  • Oversee creative development, production and distribution of all communications publications and promotional materials, including members’ Exhibition + Program Guide, annual report, Member e-news, Online Features, social media presence and other items;
  • Participate on the Digital Engagement Committee that determines strategy and objectives for the museum’s website and mobile applications, sets procedures for inclusion of content from various departments and ensures editorial standards;
  • Oversee external advertising and marketing consultants;
  • Help shape museum’s digital strategy and use of online and mobile resources to advance mission;
  • Serve as consulting strategist for marketing collateral produced by the Development, Membership, and Education departments.


  • In consultation with the Director, develop and manage internal communications strategies and vehicles;
  • Oversee and participate in the research, writing and editing of all SFMOMA press releases;
  • On behalf of the director and museum leadership, shape internal statements including those concerning museum policy, positions on news events affecting the museum and the field, and exhibits and artists presented at the museum;
  • Oversee the development and execution of the communication plan for the museum re-opening.

Visitor Services

  • Oversee the development of the Visitor Services initiative, including the revamping of way-finding, and other visitor mapping efforts, customer service, pricing, ticketing and amenities, as well as re-staffing the department and the implementation of training consistent with the brand principles;
  • Foster close collaboration with the Curatorial and Public Programs staff and Education Department to enhance interdepartmental communication to create an integrated strategy for serving the museum’s visitors and enhancing their experience before, during, and after a visit to SFMOMA.


A successful Director of M & C candidate will likely have:

  • Excellent oral and written communications skills; strong creative problem-solving and analytic capabilities;
  • Expertise in the development, implementation and evaluation of long-range marketing plans and marketing research;
  • Demonstrated success with developing and executing marketing and communications strategies designed to increase attendance and revenue;
  • Experience overseeing marketing and communications efforts during a period of significant organizational transition, facility expansion, or capital campaign; comfortable with change and flexible in implementation of priorities;
  • The ability to work effectively with others as part of a team; skill in organizing work and supervising a team for maximum effectiveness;
  • Ability to interact in an effective, tactful, and professional manner with the internal and external teams, the media and the public;
  • Experience with developing and maintaining financial projections and budgets; strong financial and organizational management skills; a track record of managing on time and on budget;
  • Ability to oversee and evaluate digital marketing, online and mobile advertising, and social media initiatives;
  • Comfort and flexibility in working with living artists; able to adapt to diverse input and embrace shared decision-making;
  • Experience managing the production of marketing/promotional materials and working closely with graphic designers and/or outside agency;
  • A history of strong collaboration; someone who actively seeks strategic partnerships and develops effective relationships;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and adapt easily to changing situations and priorities; exercises good judgment and stays focused on overarching goals;
  • Knowledge of museum operations, the arts industry and arts marketing is preferred;
  • Knowledge of Bay Area businesses, media, tourism and hospitality contacts would be valuable.


  • A team builder with both vision and strong management skills; one who can motivate and direct diverse partners while establishing accountability and shared success;
  • Emotionally mature with a good sense of humor, someone who is both confident and competent;
  • Extremely proactive approach to work; solutions-oriented with attention to detail;
  • A good listener and strategist; comfortable receiving input from many sources and able to analyze disparate information to create and execute a sound, well-organized plan;
  • Inspires trust, creativity and cohesiveness;
  • A strong project management orientation; able to implement complex operational plans;
  • A hard worker; a ‘doer’ with a willingness to work hands-on with a high energy level;
  • Resourceful—able to set priorities, build efficiencies and create opportunity;
  • Exercises high ethical standards


For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please contact;

Nancy Painter

(415) 202- 6240