Director for ISP

New York, NY
Full Time

The Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) is currently accepting applications for the position of Director. The incumbent will report to the DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, and will work in close collaboration with leadership teams at the Museum.

Founded in 1968, the ISP is an academic year, non-degree granting program comprised of three sectors: Studio, Critical Studies, and Curatorial. The 25 participants accepted annually pursue independent research and, as importantly, participate in twice weekly seminars led by the Director and visiting artists, critics, and historians. This interdisciplinary aspect of the program is integral to the ISP’s identity. The incumbent will be responsible for stewarding the ISP’s future direction, while faithfully maintaining the distinct ethos of independence and risk-taking that has characterized its history.

The ISP will move into the Roy Lichtenstein Studio in the fall of 2023. Just four blocks from the Whitney Museum, this will be the first permanent home for the ISP in its 50+ year history. This new home for the ISP will provide dedicated and expanded spaces for the three sectors of the ISP: Studio, Critical Studies, and Curatorial. Signifying the importance of discourse and interdisciplinary conversation that is integral to the ISP, the heart of the ISP will be its seminar room which is being designed also to host lectures and screenings. Designed by architects Johnston Marklee in close dialogue with Whitney stakeholders, the ISP at the Lichtenstein studio also will have spaces for informal gatherings, including meals. The idea is to create a pedagogical scenario which is both formal and informal, perpetuating an ethos that is experimental, critical, and engaged.

The Director serves as the full-time faculty member of the ISP, as well as its administrator.

The Director’s teaching responsibilities take several forms. There are two seminars every week during the academic year; one is led by a visiting artist, critic or historian, the other is a reading seminar in cultural theory and criticism. During the visitor-led seminar, the Director helps to shepherd the discussion in order to ensure maximum benefit for the participants. Throughout the year, the Director leads a regular series of reading seminars focusing on critical cultural studies and art theory, which provide intellectual coherence and continuity to the year’s course of study. In addition to the two weekly seminars, the Director meets regularly with students from all three sectors of the ISP to discuss their art practices, Critical Studies research projects, or Curatorial Studies exhibition. This is scheduled on a regular basis.

The Director’s administrative responsibilities range from managing the operations of the ISP (budget planning, admissions, managing and scheduling visiting faculty) to interaction with other departments at the Museum, to long range planning and development.

Responsibilities include: establishing the curriculum; organizing visitors’ seminars and faculty participation; arranging and supervising Critical Studies tutorials; supervising and consulting on Curatorial Studies exhibition project; supervising ISP Administrative Manager and Exhibition Coordinator; setting and managing the program’s budget; liaising with Museum colleagues; fundraising; overseeing admissions process; representing the ISP in professional contexts; stewarding the ISP’s relationships with past participants, visitors, and faculty.

The Director for ISP is a member of the Department Heads Group which is comprised of the most senior leader of a specific business unit. In this role, the incumbent is responsible for the day-to-day coordination and implementation of the Program and Operations of the Museum and organizational oversight.


  • Master’s Degree in Art History, Masters in Fine Arts or other related degree.
  • 10+ years of teaching faculty experience and administrative responsibilities.
  • Highly developed knowledge and understanding of contemporary cultural theory and criticism, as well as the history of modern and contemporary art practices.
  • A capacity to work with advanced students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines and with professional artists, critics, and historians.
  • The desire to maintain the high intellectual and artistic standards of the ISP.

Goals for the position include:

  • Effectively work with ISP participants, visiting faculty, and seminar leaders to create a risk-taking, critical, and rigorous pedagogical model in art practice, critical studies, and curatorial studies.
  • Recruit, select, and direct, all administrative staff and external collaborators within the division.
  • Foster museum-wide partnerships—including with Curatorial, Education, and Advancement—to further the ISP’s goals.

Candidate Profile
Our preferred candidate must be an individual with a deep belief in The Whitney’s and ISP’s missions, along with an abiding commitment to operating according to the Museum’s vision and values. This person needs deep experience in art, art history, and critical studies.

This individual will be a teacher who is comfortable leading initiatives from inception through successful execution, owning both the “big picture” and “the details.” They will have active listening skills, be highly collaborative, and practice shared-governance. The ideal candidate will need credibility, gravitas, and be able to serve as an ambassador for the Independent Study Program both within and outside of the Whitney.

Functionally, this person is skilled in the formulation of curricula; serve as a deft convener; and perform as an exemplary administrator. The Director must be adept at participating in public dialogue around the significant issues of our times, within and outside of the art world.

About the Whitney:
The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for 86 years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.

EEO Statement:
The Whitney Museum of American Art is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The Museum does not discriminate because of age, sex, religion, race, color, creed, national origin, alienage or citizenship, disability, marital status, partnership status, veteran status, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, or any other factor prohibited by law. The Museum hires and promotes individuals solely on the basis of their qualifications for the job to be filled. The Museum encourages all qualified candidates to apply for vacant positions at all levels. This description shall not be construed as a contract of any sort for a specific period of employment.

COVID guidelines:
The health and safety of our Museum community is the highest priority. As such, the Whitney Museum is requiring all newly hired staff members to be fully vaccinated and boosted with an FDA authorized and/or approved COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Requests for reasonable accommodations for medical, religious, or other reasons will be considered in accordance with applicable law.

Not sure you meet 100% of our qualifications? Research shows that men apply for jobs when they meet an average of 60% of the criteria. Yet, women and other people who are systematically marginalized tend to only apply if they meet every requirement. If you believe that you could excel in this role, we encourage you to apply. We are dedicated to considering a broad array of candidates, including those with diverse workplace experiences and backgrounds. Whether you’re new to arts and culture administration, returning to work after a gap in employment, simply looking to transition, or take the next step in your career path, we will be glad to have you on our radar. Please use your cover letter to tell us about your interest in the arts and culture space and what you hope to bring to this role.


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