The ten-year-old Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA), an independent, non-collecting, non-sectarian museum, is located in mid-town Manhattan. Despite tough competition from New York City’s major art institutions, MoBIA has carved out a unique place in the museum community. MoBIA is known for the excellence of its exhibitions, education programs and scholarship in the exploration of great works of art inspired by the Bible. From its inception, MoBIA’s exhibitions have received extraordinary praise from art critics including in The New York Times.
MoBIA’s founding Director was recruited away and the Board was faced with the challenge of replacing her. Her departure came as MoBIA anticipated the possibility of relocating while its host organization was renovating the building. In any case, initiating a capital campaign would be one of the new Director’s priorities.
The Board of Directors and we were aware that ideally their new Director would have substantial credentials as a museum professional with classic art history training, significant fundraising, management and Board-relations skills as well as a good grasp of budgetary issues. With the prospect of a major space decision in the near future, and with the Board’s concurrence, the search focused on identifying and recruiting individuals who had successfully directed museums with similar challenges. In addition, parallel research was undertaken to seek out talented professionals who were on a director’s track. The final slate presented to the Search Committee was a combination of both.
The successful and seasoned candidate was Richard Townsend, whose background fit the Board’s criteria well. Richard started his career as a curator of European art, specializing in 17th century art, before taking on directorships at two institutions where he increased visibility and audience and donor participation. Richard began his tenure at MoBIA in October, 2013.