Photo courtesy of Baltimore Museum of Art/Facebook.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has selected Russell Reynolds Associates to aid the museum’s search for its next director.

The museum announced Wednesday that RRA will work with the museum’s 10-member search committee to identify a successor to Christopher Bedford, who stepped down earlier this month. A final decision will be made by the museum’s full Board of Trustees, who will take a vote.

When Bedford, who is white, announced plans in February to become director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, he triggered a conversation about whether the BMA’s next director should be Black to reflect the city’s population and support the museum’s goals of diversity and inclusion.

Based in Washington, D. C., with an office in New York City, RRA was chosen following an interview process led by the museum’s search committee, co-chaired by BMA Board Chair Clair Zamoiski Segal and Trustee Darius Graham.

According to an announcement from the museum, the committee prioritized finding a search firm “that has deep knowledge of and passion for Baltimore, a demonstrated track record of helping museums like the BMA identify talented leaders, and the capacity and creativity to search in a competitive hiring market.”

RRA has more than 50 years of experience, including with Baltimore’s cultural community, and is committed to developing a process that aligns with the BMA’s focus on both excellence and equity, according to the BMA announcement.

The BMA search committee also includes BMA Trustees Nancy Hackerman; Pamela Hoehn-Saric; Lisa Harris Jones; Fiona Ong; Michael Sherman; Jim Thornton; David Wallace and Kwame Webb. It will now work with RRA to develop a process for gathering feedback and input from the museum’s varied stakeholders.

The process will include conversations with BMA staff and donors, leaders and members of the community, artists and others. According to the museum, this outreach is an essential part of the search process and will help inform development of the job description and the profile of ideal candidates. Stakeholders are invited to send questions and comments to:

“When we first announced the formation of the Search Committee in February 2022, we made a commitment to provide opportunities for the museum’s many stakeholders to share their perspectives about the qualifications and characteristics of the BMA’s next director. We continue to believe that this is a critical aspect of finding the right person to carry forward and further express the BMA’s mission of placing diversity and equity alongside artistic excellence,” said Zamoiski Segal and Graham, in a statement.

“We chose RRA as our search firm because they so distinctly understand our vision for both this search and the institution more broadly. We have incredible confidence in their expertise and look forward to working with their team to further define the search process and our immediate next steps,” the co-chairs said.

The RRA team working with the BMA includes Michael Singleton, Jaime Hechinger, and Shana Schneider. In addition to defining the approach and timeline for soliciting stakeholder feedback, RRA will further assess the leadership needs of the museum; develop and distribute a position description; identify, vet, and interview candidates; and support with ‘onboarding’ the selected individual.

The search is expected to take months. According to the museum’s announcement, the search committee “will be deeply involved in every step of the work to ensure that the search remains consistent with the museum’s values and goals.”

Until the BMA selects its next director, the museum’s chief curator Asma Naeem and chief operating officer Christine Dietze will serve as interim co-directors.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.