Fowler Museum at UCLA
Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director
Fowler Museum at UCLA
The Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) explores global arts and cultures with an emphasis on Africa, Asia, Pacific, and the Indigenous Americas, past and present. As a public arts unit within the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts), the Fowler Museum enhances understanding and appreciation of diverse peoples, cultures, and religions of the world through dynamic exhibitions, publications, and public programs informed by interdisciplinary approaches, scholarship, and perspectives of the cultures represented. The museum’s mission includes a strong focus on contemporary artistic production from its regions of focus, including complex issues of politics, culture, and social action. The Fowler Museum stimulates curiosity in and respect for cultural difference and artistic diversity by breaking new ground with subjects, artistic genres of all types, and experimental interpretive approaches. By bringing past and present global arts together, the Fowler Museum creates a space for different communities in Los Angeles and beyond to see themselves and come together.
The Fowler Museum has a rich history as a center for interdisciplinary research. The museum was founded in 1963, merging the multicultural collections at UCLA to make them accessible to the university community and the general public. The museum relocated to its current location in 1992 and was renamed the Fowler Museum at UCLA after the family of Francis E. Fowler, Jr. The Fowler Museum houses its renowned collections in 12,000 square feet of storage space and has four galleries totaling 20,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Archaeology Collections Facility resides in a 5,300-square-foot facility in another campus building.
As one of the most recognizable repositories of global arts, the Fowler Museum has presented more than 325 exhibitions and published 148 scholarly volumes. Intersections, the Fowler Museum’s permanent collection gallery, displays a rotating selection of objects and textiles from the museum’s collections in its four galleries. Several of the museum’s exhibitions have traveled nationally and internationally, though COVID-19 has dramatically curtailed these efforts. Exhibition projects and publications have regularly featured ambitious and original content, innovative thematic approaches, research-based interdisciplinary scholarship, and inventive installation design. Exhibition development has been collaborative and team-based. Major projects typically include staff curators and guest curators/specialists, as well as relevant community representatives. Exhibitions and publications have garnered support from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andy Warhol Foundation, and Pasadena Art Alliance. It has also been recognized with awards from the American Association of Museum Curators and the College Art Association.
The museum’s art and ethnographic collections now include more than 125,000 objects from six continents and archaeological holdings exceeding 1.5 million items—offering a comprehensive resource for exhibitions, scholarship, and teaching, all central to the museum’s mandate. The Fowler Museum acknowledges the significance of a diverse range of art forms—from sculpture, textiles, and painting to popular, commercial, ephemeral, and performance arts. These are unique local, national, and international resources. The majority of the Fowler Museum’s holdings have come through donations, including the gift of 30,000 objects from the Sir Henry S. Wellcome Trust from 1965 to 1967 and the namesake Fowler collection in 1992. In 2019, the Fowler Museum received a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to conduct collaborative interdisciplinary research on the museum’s African art collection, focusing on a large group of objects in the Sir Henry S. Wellcome Collection.
The collection’s areas of special strength and significance include one of the largest and finest collections of African art in the United States and one of the top 20 worldwide; extensive holdings of ceramics, textiles, and objects from the ancient Andes; and a world-class collection of Indonesian textiles. The materials held in the Archaeology Collections Facility are primarily the products of UCLA-led academic research, as well as Cultural Resource Management work. The collections are supported by two conservation labs and a photo studio. The Fowler Museum has been Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) compliant for many years. It values the relationships that have been forged with local Native communities and advisors and is currently working with numerous international partners on repatriation and restitution efforts.
The Fowler Museum has strongly supported the work of contemporary international artists, promoting cross-cultural and transnational knowledge and understandings. With a mandate that has long decentered Eurocentric perspectives toward art, history, and culture, the museum has championed marginalized peoples, artists, and artistic genres from around the world. The museum has supported artists such as El Anatsui, José Bedia, Nick Cave, Belkis Ayón, and Zina Saro-Wiwa.
Education and engagement activities are also vital to the museum’s mission and include programs that serve both UCLA and the broader community. University programs include interdisciplinary class visits and student-led performances. School programs provide K-12 students experiences that demonstrate the power of global arts and cultures via UCLA student-guided and self-guided experiences. Teacher programs and curriculum guides offer resources for all educators in the Los Angeles area and beyond to strengthen global arts and humanities education. The Fowler Museum also launched an initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment to engage the topic of lived religion in the 21st century museum. The project connects with local communities in Los Angeles to discuss and understand ritual and visual expressions of faith and how they could be portrayed or discussed within a museum context and to support new exhibitions, public programs, and digital initiatives. The project draws on the museum’s research and work on the intersections of art and religion and its extensive collections of objects of religious worship from around the world.
The Fowler Museum currently employs 35 full-time and part-time career staff, nine contract employees, and approximately 35 students in various museum departments, including the Fowler Museum store. The museum’s annual operating budget is approximately $5.5 million. The Fowler Museum boasts an active and dedicated membership, many of whom have been affiliated with the museum for decades. Of special note are two interest groups, the Textile Council and the Contemporary Council, which sponsor special programs and support exhibitions and publications in their respective areas. The Fowler Museum is also supported by the Advisory Council and the Fowler Fellows, two select groups consisting of respected individuals in the UCLA and local arts communities. The former serves on a voluntary basis and the latter are high-level donors to the museum.
UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) plays a vital role in the cultural and artistic life of the university and the communities that it serves. Its commitment to innovative education, pioneering research, dynamic public service, community engagement, and social justice is fueled by the unwavering belief in the fundamental value of creativity and the artist’s unique ability to shape the future and change the world. UCLA Arts provides an unparalleled environment in which to study, research, and experience the arts.
One of 12 prestigious professional schools at UCLA, UCLA Arts offers leading programs in four degree-granting departments—Architecture & Urban Design, Art, Design Media Arts, and World Arts and Cultures/Dance—as well as one school-wide minor, the Visual and Performing Arts Education program (VAPAE). Its internationally acclaimed museums, the Fowler Museum and Hammer Museum, and its groundbreaking performing arts program, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, form a dynamic gateway that connects the public through the vitality of the arts.
Rooted in an understanding of the profound interdependence between creativity and academic research, UCLA Arts’ innovative and rigorous programs combine studio-based practice with critical studies and liberal arts scholarship—all within the context of the nation’s leading public research university. In advancing this holistic approach to professional arts education, it encourages students to pursue their passions, find their voices, and hone their vision while upholding the highest standards of excellence and innovation within each discipline.
The community of artists, curators, designers, architects, performers, ethnographers, scholars, activists, and creative entrepreneurs fundamentally believes that the practice and presence of the arts are a cornerstone of the creative thinking and collaborative approaches that the 21st century demands. The Visual and Performing Arts Education Program offers students the opportunity to develop into informed teaching artists while delivering hands-on arts programming to K-12 students and others in underserved communities. The school’s eight faculty-led research centers foster vital connections between the arts and other disciplines, bringing together creativity and research to address issues such as global health, climate change, prison reform, sustainable urban development, environmental justice, access and equity in the arts, the role of technology in our lives, and more.
As the largest presenter of public arts programming in one of the world’s global capitals of culture and creative industry, UCLA is uniquely positioned to welcome and engage Los Angeles’s diverse communities through its two world-class museums, acclaimed performing arts program, renowned film and television archive, three leading professional arts schools, and distinguished humanities division. Founded in 1919, UCLA has an enrollment of more than 46,000 students, including 31,636 undergraduates and 14,364 graduate students, medical and dentistry interns, and residents. The student body is 72 percent non-white and 59 percent women. Offering more than 3,900 courses in 109 academic departments with 125 majors and 90 minors, UCLA is the most applied to university in the nation with more than 139,000 freshman applications and 28,440 transfer applications received for the fall of 2021, representing all 50 states and 140 countries.
The UCLA campus sits on 419 acres of the Westwood neighborhood in Los Angeles, five miles from the Pacific Ocean, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples. Los Angeles County boasts 15 beaches, nine national parks, more than 93 museums, 11 major league professional sports teams, and four major amusement parks. The county is the one of the largest in the United States, with nearly 10 million residents in 88 cities and nearly 140 unincorporated areas. Los Angeles County ranks among the most ethnically and culturally diverse populations in the world and has at least 185 languages spoken at home.
Sources: edited fromlacounty.gov, discoverlosangeles.com
The Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director (Director) will have overall operational responsibility for the Fowler Museum, staff, and activities in pursuit of its mission. The Director will serve as the chief spokesperson, representing the museum and fostering connections within the university and across the greater Los Angeles community while also maintaining an active presence in the museum and cultural community regionally and nationally. This individual will have responsibility for the museum’s exhibition, collection, scholarship, and programs. They will lead, mentor, and develop a collaborative team—consisting of the Deputy Director, Chief Curator, Director of Exhibitions, Director of Education and Interpretation, Director of Development, and Director of Communications and Engagement—while encouraging cross-departmental communication. The Director will provide leadership and strategic direction in support of the museum’s internal and external activities guided by a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. The Director will report to the Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture.
Roles and Responsibilities
Visionary Leadership and Strategic Direction
- Lead the strategic planning, direction, and implementation of the Fowler Museum as a public arts unit within UCLA Arts, supporting the museum’s broader goals, the mission of the school and university, and a shared commitment to articulating a compelling vision for the Fowler Museum as a 21st century museum and cultural destination.
- Develop opportunities to support the Fowler Museum’s mandate as a teaching resource, providing oversight and management of senior staff to ensure ongoing scholarship and connection to both university and external stakeholders and audiences.
- Prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in all areas of the museum with a focus on the critical storytelling that is needed to advance the anti-racist and post-colonial mission, vision, and values of the Fowler Museum, UCLA Arts, and UCLA.
- Guide capital planning efforts to ensure that the museum’s short- and long-range facilities needs are met and collaborate with the Deputy Director to ensure the effective operation and maintenance of current facilities.
- Build and maintain a high-performing team, set clear direction, and mentor, evaluate, and guide senior management to support a culture of excellence, diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
- Guide the activities of the senior team, in collaboration with the Deputy Director, to ensure operating goals are set and met.
- Establish systems to track progress and measure operational and organizational effectiveness and communicate key metrics and performance indicators to the staff, Dean, and key stakeholders.
- Work with the Deputy Director to ensure that the necessary organizational structure, policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for effectiveness.
- Represent the museum on the UCLA Chancellor’s Council on the Arts and other councils and committees within the university.
- Actively engage with a comprehensive network of museum professionals, scholars, artists, and collectors, participating in relevant meetings and organizations to support the museum’s mission and strategic goals.
- Embrace other visionary leadership and strategic direction opportunities as needed.
Collections Care, Exhibitions, and Program Development
- Ensure collection management policies and procedures are developed to create a sustainable plan for collection care and growth in the short- and long-term.
- Confirm that collections care is fully informed by the NAGPRA and other frameworks for repatriation and restitution as it relates to collections and exhibitions at the Fowler Museum.
- Integrate the Fowler Museum’s exhibitions and programs into the mission of UCLA and UCLA Arts and promote the use of both for research, scholarship, teaching, and community engagement.
- Guide the development of institutional curatorial priorities, including exhibitions and collections care that address the short- and long-term needs of the museum and the community it serves, with the highest curatorial and ethical standards of the field.
- Develop relationships with foundations and other grant funding institutions to enhance the museum’s research, exhibitions, and programs.
- Develop relationships with scholars, artists, and institutions to support the creation and curation of vibrant exhibitions that build of the Fowler Museum’s reputation and advance new scholarship and conversations within and beyond the field.
- Leverage a broad range of programs to activate the museum’s mission, develop partnerships, and build a range of diverse audiences that inform the museum’s priorities with key partners in co-curating the visitor experience.
- Embrace other collections care, exhibitions, and program development opportunities as needed.
Revenue Enhancement and Community Engagement
- Serve as a positive spokesperson and ambassador for the Fowler Museum in collaborating and interacting regularly with diverse students, faculty, staff, and visitors to elevate the museum’s international public profile.
- Interact regularly with the Fowler Museum’s Advisory Council to ensure it is actively engaged in the museum’s future.
- Develop an active community presence, building positive connections and authentic relationships to understand opportunities for new initiatives and partnerships that support museum attendance and participation.
- Serve as the museum’s chief fundraiser, transparently and proactively engaging with UCLA External Affairs, UCLA Arts Development, and the Fowler Museum’s development staff.
- Cultivate and steward major donors and prospects who will provide resources for the ongoing growth and vibrancy of exhibitions, collections, and strategic initiatives.
- Guide development activities with the Director of Development to maintain authentic and deep relationships with key funders and the donor community to support short- and long-term revenue goals.
- Strengthen the museum’s brand through a clear and responsive communications strategy.
- Build strong, positive relationships with campus, civic, and cultural leaders to advance the Fowler Museum’s interests and reputation, ensuring that the museum serves as a vital cultural resource within the Los Angeles community and beyond.
- Embrace other revenue enhancement and community engagement opportunities as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Director will be a versatile and visionary leader who values scholarly knowledge within arts, museum, university, and community contexts and seeks new learning opportunities that meet and help define strategic priorities. Structured and organized, this individual will have the ability to easily adapt and comfortably shift daily activities to respond to the changing needs of the Fowler Museum’s many constituents while staying focused on key goals and objectives. With a passion for broad community engagement and public dialogue, the Director will be a people-oriented and enthusiastic collaborator who thrives in frequent interactions with diverse constituencies and partnerships.
Other key competencies of this role include:
- Leadership – The capacity to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
- Diplomacy and Appreciating Others – The dexterity to effectively and tactfully handle difficult situations and treat others fairly regardless of differences in order to maintain positive relationships with genuine concern and appreciation for others.
- Professional and Personal Accountability – The flexibility to prioritize and complete the tasks necessary to meet or exceed the agreed upon expectations of the role and to assume accountability for decisions and actions.
- Continuous Learning – The creativity to take initiative, regularly adopt new concepts or technologies, and keep abreast of new information through listening, learning, reading, and engaging.
- Time, Priority, and Project Management – The ingenuity to prioritize and complete competing yet complementary objectives, secure required resources, and engage people to achieve desired results within allotted time frames.
Minimum requirement is a Master of Fine Arts degree or highest degree in a relevant field. Additional requirements include:
- Demonstrated achievement in museum leadership
- Knowledge of art, artists, and curation
- Experience building and mentoring teams, advancing diversity, and fundraising, particularly within an academic setting
- Expertise in best practices and current museum standards
- Experience working with Indigenous communities, as well as an understanding of current issues within the field
- Past experience with cultural history and/or archeology
- Understanding of collections care and the importance of repatriation and restitution
- Positive professional profile while being recognized as a respected scholar and leader in their chosen field
Compensation and Benefits
The University of California’s (UC) total compensation program for this position is comprised of salary commensurate with experience and a range of comprehensive health and welfare benefits, including medical, dental, life, and disability insurances and retirement benefits.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter including a summary of demonstrable accomplishments, curriculum vitae, and statement on contributions to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) describing past, present, and future (planned) contributions, please visit the UC Recruit website. For candidate nominations, questions, and general inquiries related to this opportunity (including anticipated salary range), please visit or artsconsulting.com/employment or contact:
Ms. Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Senior Vice President or Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau, President
8581 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 406
Los Angeles, CA 90069-4120
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225 (Ms. Lynch-McWhite) Ext. 201 (Dr. Thibodeau)
The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy.
The University of California, Los Angeles acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.
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