Phillips Oppenheim

Executive Director, Concord, MA



From "the shot heard round the world" to the inimitable writings of the Transcendentalists, from the antislavery movement to innovations in education and agriculture, Concord has been fertile soil for legendary acts of self-expression and social progress.


Founded in 1886 as the Concord Antiquarian Society, the Concord Museum is a center of cultural enjoyment for the region and a gateway to the town of Concord for visitors from around the world. The Museum educates visitors of all ages about the history of Concord and its continuing influence on American political, literary, and cultural life. The Museum's nationally significant collection serves as a catalyst for changing exhibitions, extended classroom learning, dynamic programs, and publications.

The Museum is the one place where all of Concord's remarkable past is brought to life through an inspiring collection of historical, literary, and decorative arts treasures. Housing one of the oldest and most treasured collections of American material culture and decorative arts in the country, the collection numbers over 35,000 objects spanning the history of Concord from Native American settlements to the present and includes furniture, ceramics, silver and pewter, household goods, archaeological stone artifacts, photographs, documents, prints, costumes, and textiles.

The Museum's Henry David Thoreau Collection, the world's largest collection of objects related to Concord's native son, numbers over 250 artifacts - including Thoreau's bed, desk, and chair from Walden. The Museum's Paul Revere lantern provides a material icon for understanding and discussing the roots of the American Revolution and the beginning of our democracy. The entirety of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study serves as a beginning to conversations and exploration of Concord's literary past and the country's intellectual history.

Continually striving to reach new audiences through dynamic exhibitions and programming that provide opportunities for deeper public involvement and exploration of the past, recent major exhibitions include Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage (2012); From the Minute Man to the Lincoln Memorial: The Timeless Sculpture of Daniel Chester French (2013); "The Shot Heard Round the World": April 19, 1775 (2014); N. C. Wyeth's Men of Concord (2016); Walden, Four Views, (2017), featuring the work of noted photographer, Abelardo Morell; and This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal (a collaborative exhibition currently at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York that will come to Concord in September 2017).

Object-based learning is at the core of the Museum's education programs, which serve more than 12,000 school children every year from communities near and far. Hands-on approaches help make history at once familiar and profound. The Paul Revere's Ride initiative, totally funded through donations, makes these transformative learning experiences available to students in the surrounding communities of Lowell, Lawrence, and Everett free of charge.

The Museum is nearing completion of The Campaign for the Concord Museum, a $13 million capital and endowment campaign which will fund a new Education Center and expand the Museum's endowment. The new 12,900-square-foot building will double the Museum's educational capacity with three new classrooms; a multipurpose Lyceum space; and an innovative History Learning Center for teaching directly from objects and enable the Museum to meet current demand and plan for future growth, including increased collaborations and sharing space with other community organizations.

Additionally, within the existing Museum building, a new Gateway to Concord orientation area will welcome visitors to the Museum and to the town. The creation of additional gallery space, expanded and modernized collections storage, and new mechanical systems in the original 1930 building will enable the Museum to better care for and display its exceptional collections.

The Concord Museum is governed by a 24-member Board of Governors, with a 65-member advisory Board of Trustees, and over 200 active volunteers. The Museum has an annual budget of approximately $2.22 million and is managed by a staff of 12 full-time employees and 38 part-time staff.


Reporting to the Board, the Executive Director will provide strategic leadership, creativity, management, and direction for the Concord Museum, and pursue a clear and impactful vision for the organization going forward. The Executive Director will embrace the Museum's sense of place, from the town of Concord's pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, to the literary contributions of Concord residents, Thoreau, Emerson, the Alcotts, and Hawthorne.

The Executive Director will ensure excellence in museum curatorial, educational, marketing, and operational endeavors and lead the alignment of financial resources and operational priorities near and long term. In partnership with the Museum's senior leadership team, the Executive Director will continue to enhance the Museum's relevance and, through dynamic thought-provoking exhibitions and collections, position it as a vibrant institution of national distinction.

While respecting the planning and ideation of the Museum's current Master Plan, the Executive Director will offer a fresh perspective, developing interesting and unique approaches, and further develop the Concord Museum as a destination and platform for historic interpretation, learning, and discovery.

To achieve these goals, the Executive Director must demonstrate his/her commitment to the Museum's already strong emphasis on object-based learning, educational outreach and programming, while providing the resources and activities that amplify the appeal of the Museum to the broadest possible audience.


The Executive Director will capitalize on the Museum's legacy and potential and have the following priorities and responsibilities:

  • Offer a broad vision for, and lead the Concord Museum through, a strategic planning process which looks to the future of the Museum and that ensures the integration and balance of exhibition and educational objectives;
  • Take ownership of, and ensure the completion and opening of, the Museum's exciting new Education Center; engage an even larger audience of school groups, civic groups, and the general public with exhibits and educational experiences that invigorate inquiry and make history come alive;
  • Building upon existing planning efforts, present and execute a coherent reinstallation plan for the Museum's entire exhibition space and collection; develop compelling exhibits and experiences around the Museum's core that build on the collections' strengths and major relevant questions and topics; provide increased opportunities for more frequent patron exposure to the permanent collection;
  • In a highly competitive environment, take a leading and highly visible role in fundraising, including developing and implementing engagement strategies that increase the Museum's base of support from major donors, foundations, and corporate sponsors; cultivate the philanthropic interests of first-time donors, patrons with specific interests, e.g., historic artifacts, decorative arts, literature, etc., and those with a greater capacity for giving who could support the organization at higher levels;
  • Foster a strong working relationship with the Board and its leadership; understand their strengths and capabilities and bring forth their best ideas, efforts, resources, and contacts; fully engage the totality of board membership; broaden the base of board membership, looking beyond Concord to begin to imagine a more regional, national, and possibly international representational group;
  • Take a lead in planning, marketing, and promoting special events and exhibitions associated with and following the expansion and reinstallation of the Museum's galleries; develop compelling ways to market and promote the Museum's activities to its member base and increase the appeal of the Museum to new members;
  • Hire, manage, motivate, and evaluate staff; continue to build upon and nurture an aspirational culture within the organization that brings out the best in each person; listen to staff and harness their energy and ideas; foster a culture of creativity, strategic thinking, transparency, collaboration, and accountability; ensure administrative policies and procedures are timely and up to date.


The ideal candidate will have a deep interest in and a passion for the current and future role of the Concord Museum, and should have or be the following:

  • An innovative and inspiring leader able to translate vision into workable actions and priorities; a team builder with strong business and management skills and a record of achievement in bringing about change in exciting and creative ways;
  • Curatorial leadership experience and the ability to use the museum's collections as an interpretive resource for both permanent and temporary exhibitions; the ability to attract a range of local, regional, and national audiences; able to leverage professional connections in the museum world to attract interesting partnerships and collaborations;
  • Educational leadership experience in developing informative, thought-provoking curricula and programming, educational outreach, and networking;
  • Proven track record as a dynamic and accomplished fundraiser; successful results in identifying, cultivating, and soliciting major donors, foundation grants, government support, and corporate sponsorships, and generating other sources of revenue;
  • Willingness to actively participate in the cultural and civic life of Concord and integrate the Museum's exhibitions and activities with the town's other historical sites, museums, and programs;
  • Financial acumen commensurate with running a civic institution the size and stature of the Concord Museum, able to interpret and articulate financial statements and financial performance; proven project-management skills that transfer to the completion of the building project - setting and managing expectations and dealing with vagaries of the process - are a real plus.
  • Conversant in the use of technology and digital media in promoting an institution, reaching audiences, and creating innovative and engaging exhibitions and programs;
  • Superior communication and presentation skills that are effective with a range of audiences, including volunteers, staff, business and community leaders, the media, and the general public;

The Director should also be or have:

  • A hands-on leader and consensus builder who will quickly gain the respect and credibility of all key constituencies; an outgoing people person who will warmly embrace volunteers and community members; an ability to pick up on cultural cues is a plus;
  • Persuasive, resourceful, charismatic, and energetic; able to generate enthusiasm and inspire others; able to delegate and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities with clarity and confidence.

Please send applications or nominations to Mark Tarnacki at

Top of Page