University of Washington - Seattle, WA

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The University of Washington (UW) is proud to be one of the nation’s premier educational and research institutions. Our people are the most important asset in our pursuit of achieving excellence in education, research, and community service. Our staff not only enjoys outstanding benefits and professional growth opportunities, but also an environment noted for diversity, community involvement, intellectual excitement, artistic pursuits, and natural beauty.

Our Burke Museum has an outstanding opportunity for an Interpretive Director .

The Burke Museum is currently engaged in a multi-year transformation project that will culminate in a major capital campaign to build a new museum facility. The “New Burke” will be a flagship natural history museum that inspires wonder and pride about the Northwest, places the collection and study of objects at the forefront of everyone’s experience—from curators to visitors, educators to students—and emphasizes the connection between people and the environment in every aspect of the museum.

At this critical time in the Burke Museum’s history, we have created a new position of Interpretive Director. In partnership with the Burke Executive Director and leadership team, the Interpretive Director will play a critical role in developing a strategic approach to exhibits, programming, community outreach, education, and visitor experience that will grow and engage Burke audiences. These strategies will support the museum’s transformation goals, and our vision to inspire people to value their connection with all life—and act accordingly.

As a member of the thriving Burke team, this position will be dedicated to building momentum for the “New Burke” – and pave the way for all to have rich, relevant, and dynamic experiences at the Burke Museum.

Job Summary:
The Interpretive Director reports to the Executive Director, functions as a high level manager, coordinating strategy and implementation of all programming relevant to the Burke Museum visitor experience and audience development. Efforts to engage our audiences, both at the museum and in our communities, must be strategic and coordinated in order to realize the highest impact. This position will work closely with Burke leadership to clarify desired outcomes and successfully pursue those goals by strengthening existing programs and implementing new initiatives.

Strategic oversight includes the Burke Museum’s exhibits program, education department, public programs, visitor services, and community outreach efforts. Further, this position is responsible for strategic planning related to the museum’s eventual expansion project as it pertains to interpretation exhibit planning. This position functions as a critical manager, providing budgetary/personnel oversight, representing the museum in the community, and participating on senior management committees within the museum and university.

This position provides strategic leadership to five direct reports: Director of Education, Exhibits Manager, Registrar, Visitor Services Manager and Public Programs Manager.

• Strategic Leadership/Coordination: Ensure that all public offerings of the Burke Museum are strategically coordinated. Actively promote and implement collaboration of programming, exhibit design/content, educational offerings, visitor experience, and community outreach efforts. Act as a critical member of the Burke leadership team, providing authoritative guidance to both peers and the director as it pertains to interpretation and outreach. Work closely with the Director of Communications to determine strategies for targeted audience development.

• Exhibits division: Manage the exhibits division, including exhibit concept development/strategy for Burke-produced exhibits, oversight and strategy for incoming exhibits, long-term exhibits improvements, and off-site exhibits. Partner with the Burke Exhibit Designer, Burke Curators and other exhibit development staff to ensure that all exhibit offerings are relevant, engaging, and promote the vision of the Burke Museum. Foster creativity and innovation in all exhibitions.

• Traveling Exhibits: Provide oversight of the Burke’s traveling exhibits program, to include strategy for production, new builds, exhibit placement and sales. Provide leadership and strategic guidance to the Registrar and Traveling Exhibits Manager to ensure the traveling exhibits program is competitive and successful regionally and nationally.

• Visitor Services: In coordination with the Visitor Services Manager, manage strategy of the visitor services function of the Burke, which includes admissions, facility rental program, gift shop, new member acquisition and broad visitor experience. Ensure that customer service expectations are clearly communicated and enforced among all staff that interacts with Burke users. Oversee efforts to increase profit for all revenue-driven activities, to include membership sales, gift shop sales, facility rental bookings and accurate admissions processing.

• Educational Services: Oversee the Education division of the Burke Museum. In partnership with the Education Manager, build strategy for the Education division to produce successful, impactful offerings (both on-site and off-site) that support the vision of the Burke Museum. Ensure strategy of all education programming is integrated with other program offerings of the Burke Museum. Confirm that all programming is regionally relevant, and that state-wide educational efforts are effective. Work closely with Burke development staff to pursue funding opportunities to support educational initiatives.

• Public Programs: Provide oversight and strategic management of the public programming efforts of the Burke Museum. Collaborate with Public Programs Manager to build coordination with other program offerings of the Burke. Ensure that public program offerings are relevant, captivating and successful. Oversee the production of programming that reaches a broader community audience, and brings new visitors and member to the Burke.

• Outreach: Oversee outreach efforts of the Burke Museum, to include the docent program, campus outreach, community outreach (street fairs, etc.), and volunteer development/coordination for these programs. Ensure that all efforts support agreed-upon strategies for audience development/impact.
• Contract negotiation: Represent the interests of the museum in contract negotiations with exhibit vendors, videographers, artists, and other exhibit-related collaborators; may manage contract negotiation for individual consultants hired by the Burke Museum.

• Budget: Develop and monitor budgets and provide support in development and preparation of annual museum budget. Make strategic budgetary decisions around investment opportunities in order to build new programming, impact new audiences, or pursue additional revenues/funding.

• Committee participation: Participate in management-level committees. Frequently facilitate committees as it pertains to Burke interpretation, outreach, and expansion.


• At least 5 - 7 years management-level museum experience in exhibits, education, and programming.
• Master’s level education in arts/non-profit administration, museum administration, or other related field or equivalent work experience.
• Able to build strong teams to achieve strategic outcomes.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
• Exhibit strong leadership skills with direct reports, other museum staff, peers, leadership, and contacts in the community/museum field.
• Proficient with all typical business-related software (Microsoft Office) and have familiarity with exhibit design software.
Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except when there are legal requirements, such as a license/certification/registration.

Condition of Employment:

A satisfactory outcome from criminal background verification is required prior to hire.

Application Process
Part of the application process for this position includes completing an online cover letter assessment, as well as the Employment Eligibility Assessment to obtain additional information that will be used in the evaluation process. The assessment(s) will appear on your screen for you to complete as soon as you select "Apply to this Position" on this job announcement. Once you begin the assessment, it must be completed at that time. If you select to take it later, it will appear on your "My Jobs" page to take when you are ready. Please note that your application will not be reviewed and you will not be considered for this position until the assessment is complete.

The University of Washington is a leader in environmental stewardship & sustainability , and committed to becoming climate neutral.

The University of Washington is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact the Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450 / 206-543-6452 (tty) or .

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