Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, West Texas A&M University

Canyon, TX


m/Oppenheim Associates is assisting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM) in the search for an entrepreneurial Director to: act as the museum’s chief executive, increase attendance and drive donor embrace of a unique museum celebrating the land, people, history, culture and art of the Texas Panhandle, the High Plains and the American Southwest. For more information about the Director position please review the complete Position Description.

PPHM was founded in 1921 by visionary West Texans living at a time when the last of the pioneer settlers were still telling stories of the founding of the state. From simple beginnings, PPHM has emerged to be the largest historical museum in the State of Texas, and has the world’s most comprehensive collection illuminating the history and culture of the Panhandle-Plains geographical zone, which includes parts of a 5-state region spanning Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas. The museum is located in Canyon, TX (close to Amarillo) on the campus of West Texas A&M University (WTAMU),

PPHM opens its collection to the public six days a week in the summer, and 5 days weekly for the rest of the year, with admission costing between $3 and $10, with free admittance to approximately 700 PPHM Members and members of the West Texas A&M University community. The Museum currently has a $2.4 million annual operating budget, 23 full and part-time staff (including 4 curatorial and 3 education professionals), and 50 volunteers serving in various capacities throughout the year. Annual attendance is about 50,000 visitors, including 20,000 students taking part in the organization’s various education programs. The endowment amounts to about $8.5 million.

Collections are generally organized into four areas that include:

  • History of the Land of the Panhandle, which includes over a million objects, samples, and specimens covering 500 million years of the history of the Panhandle-Plains region from before recorded history.
  • History of the Peoples of the Panhandle-Plains Region, which includes the History Collection of items illustrating the evolving lives of different people living in the region that include objects of material culture and art created by native peoples, items used by the pioneer settlers and 19th and 20th century Texans, machines covering the history of ranching, agriculture and the petroleum industries. PPHM also maintains the historic T Anchor Ranch headquarters and blacksmith shop on its east lawn.
  • Art Collections that comprise the oldest and most comprehensive public art collection between Dallas and Denver, numbering more than 8,000 pieces, with a particular emphasis on art of the pre-1960 American Southwest.
    Research Center, Library & Archives, which includes about 4,000 linear feet of archival material, about 14,000 book titles, about 3,000 oral histories and unpublished papers, 300 periodical titles,  600 newspaper titles, roughly 250,000 photographs, plus maps, the papers of prominent Texans, etc.

PPHM’s Education Programs provide opportunities to personally connect with the history and culture of the 5-state Panhandle-Plains region. For the 2015-2016 school year PPHM served over 15,000 students, and in 2014 PPHM won the Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, a national videoconferencing organization. Each month PPHM also hosts public events, lectures, film screenings, curator talks, and various and collaborations. WTAMU has recently established the Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) with the objective of leveraging the assets of the both WTAMU and PPHM to promote the study of the history, culture, technology and art of the American West. PPHM is expected to collaborate with WTAMU to advance the CSAW initiative, adapt WTAMU’s distance learning technology to PPHM use, and raise funds to strengthen both WTAMU and PPHM.

The Director reports to the President of West Texas A&M University, is a member of the President’s Cabinet, and is also accountable to, and annually evaluated by, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. The Director will lead and financially strengthen the Panhandle–Plains Historical Museum as it continues its evolution as a uniquely important institution that illuminates and celebrates the rich history, culture and art of the region. She or he is accountable for managing all aspects of the museum’s collections, exhibitions, education and operations, and for working with the Board and West Texas A&M to develop a Strategic Plan that sets objectives through 2025.

For additional information or to apply, please contact Mark Oppenheim, Lisa Grossman or Lee Kappelman at info[at]moppenheim[dot]com.

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