San Antonio Museum of Art

The Kelso Director, San Antonio, TX


"The San Antonio Museum of Art enriches lives through exceptional experiences with art. Its mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret significant works of art, representing a broad range of history and world cultures to strengthen our shared understanding of humanity."


Established in 1981, the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is housed in a series of historic buildings on the San Antonio River https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/. SAMA is a world-class arts institution with a deep community focus that presents 5,000 years of culture and history through its comprehensive collection of 30,000 works assembled within a matter of a few decades through the remarkable collection gifts of dedicated patrons. The collection is particularly strong in Greek and Roman antiquities, Asian art, and art of the Americas. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Latin American Art wing spans the ages from the ancient Americas to the present and includes an outstanding collection of pre-Colombian and folk art. The Asian art wing displays one of the nation's most important collections of art from Korea, India, Japan, and China. In the contemporary galleries, works of internationally recognized artists share prominence with notable Texas and regional art. SAMA presents a robust schedule of special exhibitions and conducts 1,175 tours and programs per year including lectures, family art days, school and public tours, student and educator workshops, and scholarly symposia. SAMA's 2018 exhibition Spain: 500 years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid garnered international loans from the Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Sorolla, among others, along with visits from the King and Queen of Spain to honor San Antonio's tricentennial https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/travel/san-antonio-tricentennial-spain.html.

The Museum has an operating budget of $7.5 million, a $50 million endowment, a 39-voting member Board, 98 staff members, and 136 volunteers and welcomes 110,000 visitors each year. San Antonio supports a healthy tourism industry when not affected by global pandemics but also takes great pride in serving a deeply invested local demographic that has historically centered San Antonio before Texas, the nation, or Mexico and beyond. For more information about the San Antonio Museum of Art, please visit: https://www.samuseum.org/.


San Antonio is the nation's seventh-largest city and consistently listed as one of its fastest- growing ones. It offers all the amenities of a large metropolis with the charm and sense of community of its historical American peers New Orleans, San Francisco, and Boston. Notably, San Antonio offers these advantages at an affordable cost of living in a thriving, diverse economy. The South Texas Medical Center is home to the University of Texas Health Science Center and its medical school, five major hospital systems, and numerous public and private medical research institutions. Companies such as USAA, Valero, HEB, NuStar, Frost Bank, HOLT CAT, Zachry Group, Rackspace, and Bill Miller Bar-B-Q are headquartered in San Antonio, and Oracle, Microsoft, Toyota Manufacturing, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and AT&T have offices. Fifteen colleges and universities bring their educational resources to the city, and four active military bases as well as a large community of retired military families call it home.

San Antonio's rich cultural heritage and lively arts scene have long made it a draw for visitors as well as residents. In addition to the San Antonio Museum of Art, there is the McNay Art Museum, Witte Museum, Ruby City, and children's DoSeum, among others. The San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, Opera San Antonio, and the historic Majestic Theatre for Broadway shows offer a breadth of live performances. San Antonio is home to the world-champion Spurs and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, while adventure seekers can ride the coasters at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or SeaWorld; shop and dine at The Pearl or La Cantera; hike, bike, or kayak on the San Antonio River; hit the links at one of the city's premier golf courses; or join with more than 3.5 million people at one of the hundreds of events, parades, and activities during the city's signature annual Fiesta celebration.


The Kelso Director of the San Antonio Museum of Art provides the leadership, vision, and artistic direction for the Museum. They will take the lead in continuing to strengthen the institution's reputation for its excellent comprehensive collection and thoughtful programming in an energetic city on the rise even as it predates the country's founding.

SAMA's Kelso Director reports to a diverse board which comprises families with longstanding traditions of generational support to the Museum, members with art and business backgrounds, and professionals to reflect the San Antonio community. The Director will be responsible for motivating, engaging, and managing the Board to collaboratively achieve ambitious objectives while ensuring the sound fiscal and efficient health of the Museum's daily operations. They will lead, support, and promote exhibition and public programming of the highest quality that captures the interest of diverse audiences and garners art world, media, and financial support regionally and nationally. The Director will lead a concerted effort to identify and facilitate multiple points of connection for the public to feel welcome in, engage with, and frequent SAMA, capitalizing on the Museum's prime dynamic downtown location and along San Antonio's celebrated Riverwalk. Concerning SAMA's prime location, the Director will assess, contribute to, fundraise for, and lead the development and execution of a campus master plan that takes into account opportunity, pressing storage needs, and stewardship of its beautiful and unique historic elements.


The Director will be expected to:

  • Actively reach out to and forge relationships with museum, civic, and community stakeholders;
  • Assess funding needs and ensure that a sound and aggressive fundraising strategy is in place that enjoys stakeholder support and investment; introduce and implement a plan to increase individual giving; strike a balance between the long-term cultivation and diversification of potential new donors while sustaining the legacy of established patrons; bolster a working development operation to promote and gain financial support for the Museum's programs; inspire and activate the Board's best efforts and increased philanthropic support;
  • Bolster sound managerial policies, infrastructure, and implementation so that priorities are clear, transparent, and sustained until achieved;
  • With Board and staff, identify the means to increase collection care and storage, along with administrative effectiveness, as both pertain to physical space;
  • Encourage ongoing team collaboration and creativity internally and with professional peers; position the Museum as a contender for productive partnerships across disciplines; exploit SAMA's unique role in the community to become an inclusive gathering place for cultural and social engagement;
  • Strengthen the Museum's role as an institutional civic leader in San Antonio; enhance the bond of goodwill between SAMA and the public through active engagement;
  • Foster entrepreneurial initiative; acknowledge and promote staff achievements;
  • Provide direction and evaluate scheduling demands with an eye toward resources and staff limitations; ensure integration of exhibition and education objectives with each other and with fiscal goals.


The Director will have ongoing responsibility for the following:

  • Evaluate strategic initiatives and develop short- and long-range objective and metrics; continually ensure that approved policies are implemented, updated, and congruent with Museum goals and mission;
  • Ensure that the day-to-day operations, infrastructure, and programs of SAMA are efficiently administered in a fiscally responsible manner, ideally exceeding industry standards;
  • Based on above, develop a compelling case to encourage and energize funding to support Museum excellence and efforts;
  • Assess the campus Master Plan and prioritize campus needs and opportunities; ensure viability and secure buy-in and support to optimize the unique setting, structures, and increasing investment in the immediate neighborhood;
  • Inspire, support, and hold accountable staff; delegate appropriate responsibility throughout the institution; work to ensure SAMA staff and programming represent and embrace the rich diversity of the region;
  • Work with staff to develop a systematic plan to enrich the Museum's collection through gifts and important acquisitions; develop relationships with collectors that may lead to appropriate gifts; produce scholarship in conjunction with exhibitions to raise the profile and contribution of the San Antonio Art Museum of Art in the field;
  • Remain updated on the latest developments in museum management through ongoing dialogue with specialists in relevant areas and actively support same for the Board and staff; participate in appropriate professional organizations; be knowledgeable about current practices in the museum world, sharing information with staff and Trustees;
  • Drive the marketing of the Museum's programs to the public; initiate, oversee, and participate in ongoing efforts to enlarge and diversify the Museum audience regionally and through technology;
  • Participate actively in the San Antonio community and encourage other key staff to do the same in order to be known as a key member of the cultural, intellectual, and social life in South Central Texas.


The ideal candidate will have the following experience and qualifications:

  • A museum professional committed to comprehensive collections and adept at translating them into meaningful collaborations and exhibitions, with an authoritative grasp of best practices;
  • A civically minded entrepreneurial leader who is committed to excellence, practices good judgment, and exudes credibility; someone who possesses an understanding of the subtleties of motivating, directing, and working with committed and sometimes strong personalities, yet who can also hold their own;
  • Proven fundraising ability from a variety of sources, including successful experience soliciting gifts from individual donors, government, and business; capital campaign experience a plus;
  • Experience building, motivating, and managing a board;
  • Demonstrated ability to read, devise, and execute budgets, operations, and facilities;
  • An effective communicator capable of persuasively positioning the sometimes-challenging issues inherent in art to an uncertain public;
  • A natural collaborator with a track record of proactive community engagement and a commitment to the collective good; an embedded resident of the community who will embrace, and be embraced by, San Antonio in all its diversity;
  • Adept at harnessing existing and new digital tools to support operations, exhibitions, programs, and artists;
  • While respecting the Museum's traditions, an individual who is committed to helping craft a museum of the 21st century.

SAMA is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity.

Applications (letters of interest and CVs) and nominations are to be submitted to the attention of Sarah James and Becky Klein at SAMA@PhillipsOppenheim.com.