Executive Director

The Frye Art Museum is a living legacy of visionary patronage and civic responsibility, committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. A catalyst for engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of Charles and Emma Frye. Located in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood since 1952, the Frye Art Museum (The Frye) is the city’s only free art museum.

The museum's Founding Collection of 232 oil paintings reflects the distinctive vision of museum founders Charles and Emma Frye and celebrates late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century European and American art. In addition, the museum owns an extensive collection of artworks purchased or gifted to the museum since its opening. Today, the Frye reflects Seattle's evolving identity through exhibitions, programs, and community engagement, showcasing local and global artists who are exploring the issues of our time as well as contemporary scholarship on historical subject matter. By taking calculated risks, The Frye uncovers new voices, facilitate conversation, and provide a forum for relevant social dialogues.

The Frye Art Museum continues to build its collection through purchases and gifts, both deepening existing areas of strength and diversifying holdings to reflect the museum’s expansive curatorial program and Seattle’s globalized presence. Acquisitions of the last ten years demonstrate the museum’s commitment to growing and contextualizing its distinctive historical collections of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American art while broadening its holdings of contemporary works to embrace previously underrepresented identities, perspectives, and forms of expression.

The Role

Reporting to The Frye’s Board of Trustees, this Executive Director will serve as the driver of The Frye’s artistic and organizational vision, with support from the Board and input from the staff and community. They will oversee the development of a truly compelling strategy for the museum that deepen and expand The Frye’s connection with the Seattle community and impact as a distinct cultural and community hub. Ultimately, the Board of The Frye is looking for a leader who is captivated by the opportunity to advance an iconic institution successfully, and who embraces a spirit of unity and creativity in all aspects of its programming and operations.

Under this Executive Director’s guidance, The Frye will strengthen its leadership role as an artistic player, refining and cementing the unique space, relationships, and impact the Museum creates in the community. Implicit within this will be the Executive Director’s ability to draw upon their expertise in art, as well as knowledge of and connectivity to local and national communities of artists and other contemporary art institutions.

Critical to the Executive Director’s success will be the ability to build authentic relationships across the diversity of communities in and around Seattle and galvanize community support for the museum. The Executive Director will approach fundraising with significant activity and clarity of purpose. Ensuring a wide range of donors feel included and involved, the new Executive Director will increase and diversify financial support from individual donors, foundations, corporations and, where relevant, government funders, for annual operations and growth of the Museum’s endowment.

The Executive Director will empower and lead a dedicated professional staff. They will ensure that strategic objectives are collectively agreed upon, effectively implemented, and realized in a fiscally responsible manner. The Executive Director will inspire the volunteers and support organizations to work in concert with the strategic goals of the Museum.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate for the next Executive Director will demonstrate a collaborative leadership style, entrepreneurial drive, empathy, and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. The candidate will bring a track record of senior-level leadership experience and the candidate will have the ability to motivate staff, donors, the community of Seattle—as well as national arts leaders interested in what an arts platform like The Frye can mean to its community—around a shared vision. They will be an excellent communicator and listener, as well as have an eagerness to cultivate relationships both internally and externally. They will have an understanding of the role of museums in the 21st century, including digital strategies for audience engagement.

The next leader of the Museum will have shown a high level of achievement in developing or contributing to a compelling and forward-looking strategy for an organization, building the financial, operational, and ideological support for its implementation, and skillfully balancing and aligning the needs of multiple interests. In particular, they should have experience managing institutions in transition, and will be energized by building the Museum’s strategy for the future, as well as advancing its stature, recognition, and audience engagement locally and more broadly. The ideal candidate will be a natural team builder with the energy, optimism, and drive to lead The Frye into the future.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight:

Vision & Strategy

  • Able to create and articulate an inspiring vision for The Frye’s next era, working in partnership with the Board and listening deeply to the community; a creative thinker with an approach to developing new ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries of the field; brings a track record of leading growth and/or evolution in their organization.
  • The inclination to seek and objectively analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization's overall strategy.
  • The ability to balance the desire/need for broad change effectively with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling, to create realistic goals, strategies and implementation plans that are achievable and successful and which respect The Frye’s founding history.

Collaboration & Building Relationships

  • Able to communicate superbly and inspire the community through both powerful optimism and genuine listening; demonstrates strong emotional intelligence.
  • The ability to develop a productive and mutually fulfilling relationship with the Board of Trustees and Museum staff in building The Frye' vision and strategy for the future.
  • Embraces the role of digital and technology in museums to increase engagement and community.

Inclusive Management and Advocacy for DEI

  • Recruits and develops top talent, delegates effectively, and manages performance with accountability; fosters a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, teamwork, and empowerment, and will have the ability to counsel and coach the senior management team and curatorial leadership for success.
  • Must have the ability to create excitement and lead with inspiration, balanced with the judgment to provide calm, consistent guidance and wellness to internal staff.
  • Brings deep personal commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion in all aspects of the organization’s work; seeks to build an organization that is substantively diverse and reflective of the community; works to ensure diverse voices are a part of decision-making.
  • Self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization's performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and personal development; encourages others to share the spotlight, and celebrates the success of the team.

Fundraising and Donor Engagement

  • Enthusiastic fundraiser, who proactively builds philanthropic relationships and enjoys making the case for support; eagerness to learn in this space and to partner with the Board around advancement.
  • Will have experience building an institution’s funding base—in partnership with the Board—to increase and diversify financial support from individual donors, foundations, and potentially corporations and government funders for both annual operations and future capital needs, as well as to continue building the endowment.
  • The ability to inspire loyalty to and support of The Frye and continue to carve out its distinct niche and place in the Seattle cultural and philanthropic communities, as well as elevate the reputation of and excitement around the Museum.


Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search. Prospective candidates are invited to submit application materials to the following address: TheFrye@russellreynolds.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.