Frye Art Museum

Seattle, WA


m/Oppenheim Associates is assisting Seattle’s Frye Art Museum in the search for a curatorially experienced, managerially gifted art historian and Director to orchestrate exceptional exhibitions, education experiences and public programs, while attracting funding and other support from citizens of Seattle.  We are reaching out to the community for suggestions and nominations for the Director & CEO position, and would appreciate your support.

Founded in 1952 as Seattle’s first free art museum, The Frye is today known for widely attended exhibitions and an ability to engage a diverse public through interesting and accessible programs that appeal to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. At the core of the museum’s identity is its founding collection of works by turn-of-the-century German artists who were participants on both sides of a passionate debate over the meaning of art and the role of artists in an era of dramatic change. Today the museum’s collection includes over 1,300 works of merit from the late 19th century to contemporary art, each piece selected to advance a vigorous debate on the meaning of art and artists in society. This is a museum where the community participates, where agreeable disagreements are imbued with a sense of fun, and where new and old ideas mix in a proactive cocktail of exhibitions and programs.

In 2013, the Frye was recognized with the prestigious Mayor’s Arts Award in the category of Venture Culturalist, and in 2015 Seattle Weekly voted The Frye as Seattle’s Best Museum. The Museum is a 47,000 sq ft facility (with 13,769 sq ft of gallery space, in addition to other education and public spaces) open to the public six days a week free of charge as required by the museum’s founding charter. The museum has an annual budget of $4.5m, a 6 member Board, 30 full-time and 20 part-time staff, roughly 80 volunteers (half of which are docents), about 2,000 members, and annual attendance of about 100,000. The endowment amounts to about $65 million, which is comprised of $12.5 million in invested assets and a real estate portfolio that today is conservatively valued between $50m and $60m. Income from real estate owned by The Frye provides the primary revenue source for the Museum, and the Board works to continually maximize the income potential of museum assets.

Over the last several years the budget has remained stable, yet there is a strong feeling that The Frye is under-resourced for an ambitious future to include physical expansion by 2025. The Director will not only lead the museum from a curatorial and operating perspective, but will also create a strategic program to diversify and maximize funding for annual operations, endowment and capital projects. This is expected to result in governance and operating changes over the next years, something that the Board embraces.

Your suggestions and nominations are most welcome, and feel free to distribute this note as you deem appropriate.   We support museum leaders to build and transform museum organizations in service to art and to the public, so please call upon us any time at need.

For additional information or to apply please contact Mak Oppenheim or Lee Kappelman at info [at] moppenheim [dot] com.

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