Public History Job: Director of Kauffman Museum in North Newton, Kansas

Kauffman Museum, North Newton, Kansas, seeks an interdisciplinary, hands-on and entrepreneurial full-time director/curator. Will lead a resourceful professional staff, committed board of directors and robust corps of volunteers at the Bethel College-affiliated museum that presents the Mennonite immigrant story in the context of the land and people of the central Great Plains.

The successful candidate will inspire the Kauffman Museum team with experiences of engagement and problem solving to achieve the museumʼs core values: sustainable stewardship, agile creativity, inclusive collaboration, authentic learning and service, and multigenerational hospitality.

Primary responsibilities
• Administration of the museumʼs operations including board governance, fiscal affairs and grant writing; supervision of paid personnel, consultants and interns; public relations.
• Curation of exhibitions and adult programs that engage the community and utilize or complement the museumʼs collections to meet the museumʼs mission; oversight of collections management.
• Open to alternate configurations that could include other responsibilities in museum operations or teaching assignments at Bethel College.

Nonprofit or teaching experience preferred; terminal degree that allows individual to teach at Bethel College recommended. Kauffman Museum is an affiliate of Bethel College, a four-year liberal arts institution affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Applicants should be in sympathy with an academic community that values personal faith development, peacemaking, social justice, cross cultural learning and service.

Salary commensurate with degrees and experience

Start date: negotiable, June 2014-June 2015

Kauffman Museum at Bethel College is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.

Applicants should send a curriculum vitae that includes contact information for three references and a 500-word essay responding to the following: Considering Kauffman Museum’s core values, what unique skills, insights or experiences will you bring to our museum?

Send application and inquiries to Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum, Bethel College, 300 E. 27th Street, North Newton, KS 67117, 316-283-1612, or

Applicant reviews begin March 3, 2014 and will continue until the position is filled.

• finances: average annual budget $265,000, endowment $494,000, reserve fund $111,000, two annual fundraising events—February Valentine Dinners and fall Living Endowment Dinner
• current staff: five paid professional staff (FTE 3.75), four paid college student assistants, two paid special assignment staff, two volunteer professionals (membership records coordinator, volunteer training coordinator), 60 volunteers who serve on a regular basis as front desk reception and school tour docents
• board of directors: 15 community members, plus museum director and college liaison (ex officio)
• active educational programs: school field trips, Uncle Carlʼs Camps, Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum programs, educational bus tours, community Kansas Day celebration
• grounds: 4.5 acres in a residential neighborhood, across Main Street from college campus, 1.5 acre tallgrass prairie reconstruction, streamside woods, heirloom vegetable and flower gardens
• facilities: 17,900 sq/ ft/ building that houses exhibitions, collections, workshop (construction dates 1976, 1983, 2003), Voth-Unruh-Fast House of 1875/1911, Ratzlaff Barn of 1876
• cultural history collections: estimated 40,000 artifacts focusing on Mennonite immigrants to the central Great Plains but also nonwestern ethnographic artifacts collected by college faculty and alumni
• natural history collections: estimated 5,000 specimens with strengths in birds and mammals of the Great Plains
• special exhibitions in development: “Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations” (spring 2015); “Conscientious Objection in World War I” (2017)
• over twenty years experience developing and traveling unique exhibitions
• recent awards: 2013 Kansas Museums Association Award for Excellence for “Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact & Icon”; 2009 Mountain-Plains Museums Association Technology Award for StoryTablet; 2006 American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit for “K is for Kansas”
• recent grants: Schowalter Foundation and Fransen Family Foundation for “Sorting Out Race”; Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History for “Created Equal: Americaʼs Civil Rights Struggle” film series with Bethel College, Mennonite Library and Archives, Kansas Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, Newton Public Library; American Library Association for traveling exhibition “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” with Bethel College and Newton Public Library; Kansas Humanities Council for “Threshing Stone” project
• current collaborations: McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation (design/fabrication of permanent exhibition in new facility); El Pomar Foundation Carriage Museum (design/fabrication of exhibition on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in a new addition); both in partnership with Flint Hills Design
• institutional memberships: American Alliance of Museums; Mountain-Plains Museums Association; Kansas Museums Association; Newton Area Chamber of Commerce; South Central Kansas Tourism Region

For more on exhibits, events, education, museum store and collaborations:

1896: collections began as Museum of Natural History and American Relics at Bethel College
1941: college and Charles Kauffman collections merged and opened to the public as Kauffman Museum
1976: collections moved into storage while Bethel College determined the museumʼs future
1983: new interpretation building added to storage facility
1987: grand opening of permanent exhibition “Of Land and People” and educational programs
2006: grand opening of addition housing Mennonite furniture and Martyrs Mirror collections

The mission of Kauffman Museum is to foster learning experiences rich in artifacts that promote aesthetic appreciation of, critical thinking about and reflection on the people and the natural environment of the central prairies, with emphasis on the story of the Mennonites.

This mission is achieved by:
• providing permanent and special exhibitions that interpret human and natural history
• collecting artifacts from and stories about Mennonite people to illuminate universal themes of beliefs, identity, adaptation and change
• organizing educational programs for children, college students, adults and intergenerational audiences
• sharing museum resources

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