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Exhibition Designer

Departments:     Collections/Curatorial
Title:                    Exhibition Designer
Status:                Full Time; Overtime Exempt

Work Schedule:
Generally comprises ten eight hour days in a two week period. In addition, some evening hours, weekend work, and special event coverage may be required in order to meet job requirements. 

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Job Summary:
Hillwood’s exhibition designer is charged with developing temporary exhibition projects as well as permanent collection displays. The designer leverages their exceptional creativity and accomplishment to deliver accessible and engaging exhibitions rooted in scholarship. These projects serve the museum’s goals for attendance, engagement, and academic rigor and reflect the highest standards for museum practice.

Essential Duties:

Leadership. Plays key role in bringing successful exhibitions to term. Works collaboratively with exhibition team to deliver exhibitions that represent the collective’s creative best.
Exhibition Design. Manages exhibition projects by balancing process and product, blue-sky thinking and practicality, passion for the big-so-what and the smallest detail, careful consideration of objects and those who come to see them. Brings well-reasoned options for solutions to the group, listens, adapts, guides the whole to sound decision-making, action, and, ultimately on-time and on-budget projects that support museum attendance and visitor engagement.

Recurring Tasks:

  • With Exhibition Co-Chairs, curators, individual project leaders, and teams, develops and delivers exhibition environments and elements, in accord with contemporary museum practice.
  • Works closely with key colleagues in Curatorial and Interpretation to ensure the appropriate delivery of curatorial concepts and interpretive methods and messages.
  • Coordinates exhibition construction with Facilities and, when appropriate, with outside contractors, writing and reviewing comprehensive scopes of work for contractor requests for proposals, negotiating contracts, and ensuring timely delivery of services, as required.
  • Works closely with contracted graphic designers and other service providers to ensure seamless integration and timely delivery/installation of all graphic elements and other deliverables.
  • Also works closely with Marketing to ensure application of established exhibition brand and graphic identity and with Development regarding compliance with donor recognition commitments.
  • Coordinates work with Collections Manager and Security regarding object management/movement, installation, mounting and casing, lighting, conservation, security, loan compliance, and space capacity.
  • Coordinates work with Visitor Services regarding visitor amenities and crowd management.
  • Coordinates exhibition-related AV and technology with IT, working within budget and technical constraints of internal/external networks.
  • Creates, presents, updates, and makes available design documents including floor plans, elevations, case details, and construction drawings.
  • Prepares expense projections for annual budget request and revision process, manages approved budget.
  • Develops, monitors, and meets work schedule benchmarks and deadlines.
  • Documents projects, maintaining archive of documentary video/photography and key digital and paper files.
  • Continues to develop inventory of flexible exhibit components.
  • Actively cultivates and maintains local, national, and international professional network
  • Establishes and sustains beneficial relationships with a stable of service providers with expertise in an array of exhibit-related disciplines.
  • Keeps Hillwood’s strategic goals, mission, vision, and interpretive philosophies and practices at the forefront of all professional endeavors. Ensures that exhibition environments, elements and all related work comply with appropriate standards (NAME, ASIS, AAM, AAMD, etc.).
  • Establishes and matures design standards and criteria, ones that align with best practice and institutional brand/aesthetics.
  • Lends expertise to incoming and outgoing loan activities.
  • Lends expertise to other museum design projects as well as to capital projects, as requested.

Organizational Relationships

  • Reports to Co-chairs of Exhibitions: Director of Learning & Engagement, Director of Collections and Chief Curator.
  • Actively participates in all exhibition teams, other standing and ad hoc exhibit-related working groups. Participates in Collections-Facilities-Security, a group tasked with monthly meetings to assure the efficiency and effectiveness of the collective work of these three critical functions.
  • Significant interaction and influencing responsibility at all levels of the organization.

Requirements: Knowledge and Experience

  • B.A. in the arts or relevant design discipline. Post graduate work preferred. A combination of alternative degree, related training/education, credentials and/or experience may be considered.
  • At least 5-7 years of experience in a relevant design discipline and substantial experience leading collaborative design processes and producing highly-creative and stellar design products that can be implemented within the budget and architectural confines.  
  • Work in a museum environment; work with decorative arts/design/material culture objects, a plus.
  • Demonstrated mastery of project, task, and time management as well as budget forecasting and management.
  • Able to apply best practices in exhibition design and exhibit-related practices including, but not limited to: construction techniques, fabrication processes, graphic production, museum casework design, lighting systems and requirements, climate control requirements, art handling standards, and packing/shipping procedures.
  • Ability to place and present work in the context of the current theories and practices in museums and other relevant fields.
  • Ability to write complete, actionable RFP’s for contracted services and negotiates appropriate contract terms.
  • Command of design and graphic design software and willingness to adopt/implement technology enhancements.
  • Competency in MS Office and Apple OS-based applications at a level which is consistent position type.

Skills and Abilities

  • Intellectually playful, imaginative, innovative, creative.
  • Embraces Hillwood’s collections, founder’s mission and vision, and audiences.
  • Appreciates the place of museums and museum exhibitions in the community and in society.
  • Thrives in an environment with multiple projects, each at a different point on the concept-to-completion continuum.
  • Motivated, disciplined, self-directed, organized, resourceful, reflective, and attentive to detail and follow-through.
  • Able to construct and present persuasive arguments, options, solutions, and recommendations.
  • Results oriented, makes well-reasoned and data-driven decisions, on own and with others. Drives discussion to decision and action.
  • Actively supports consensus decisions related to projects.
  • Effective communicator-- visual, oral, and in writing.
  • Cultivates professional relationships and values collective work, builds consensus, across disciplines and leadership levels.
  • Exceptionally agile, embraces change and role as change agent.
  • Embraces the “good to great” mindset, seeks professional development opportunities.

Work Environment and Physical Conditions:
The physical requirements and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the job or may be encountered while performing the essential functions of this job.

The employee is regularly required to communicate in English professionally in person, over the telephone, through email and other electronic means, move about their work area, between buildings and the campus grounds, handle various types of media and equipment, and visually or otherwise identify, observe and assess including selecting and manipulating shades of color.    The employee is occasionally required to lift up to 15 pounds.  

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with a disability to perform the essential functions to the extent Hillwood may do so without undue hardship.  The term “qualified individual with a disability” means an individual who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the position.   

The preceding job description indicates the general nature and essential duties and responsibilities of work performed by employees within this classification. It may not contain a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required of employees to do this job.  Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time not does it proscribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.  This job description is subject to change at any time.

To apply:
We are a progressive, equal opportunity employer and all candidates are encouraged to apply.  Generous benefits, paid vacation and holiday programs.  So, come work “Where Fabulous Lives!”  

For prompt consideration, send a cover letter which MUST note an expected salary range and explain your interest in working at Hillwood, plus your resume to: noting “Exhibition Designer” in the subject line.
This is a nationwide search but those local to the DC area will receive priority consideration.