National Gallery of Art, Washington Launches Director Search with Firm Phillips Oppenheim

  • An afternoon view of the Gallery’s iconic East Building designed by I.M.  Pei.

    An afternoon view of the Gallery’s iconic East Building designed by I.M. Pei.

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Gallery of Art, Washington, has engaged the services of Phillips Oppenheim to lead the search for the next director of the museum. The renowned executive search firm will work closely with the Gallery’s Board of Trustees in 2018 to identify the best candidate to lead the preeminent U.S. institution. The National Gallery of Art houses the nation’s collection of fine art and receives more than 5.2 million annual visitors from around the world.

Earl A. Powell III, who announced his retirement in the fall of 2017, has been the director of the National Gallery of Art since 1992. Powell is the museum’s longest-serving director and only the fourth to hold this position since the institution was founded in 1936 and opened to the public in 1941. Over the course of Powell's tenure, the museum has grown exponentially in the size and scope of its collection, public educational offerings, and landmark capital improvements, including expansion of both the West and East Buildings and addition of the Sculpture Garden.

The position of director reports to the Gallery’s Board of Trustees. “We are pleased to take this formal step with Phillips Oppenheim in our search for a successor to the Gallery’s director, Rusty Powell, who has served our nation for more than two decades,” said Frederick Beinecke, president, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sarah James and Becky Klein from Phillips Oppenheim, which specializes in international executive searches for the not-for-profit sector with a special expertise and record of accomplishment in the museum field, will manage the search. All inquiries should be directed to Ms. James or Ms. Klein at

The mission of the National Gallery of Art is to serve the United States of America in a national role by preserving, collecting, exhibiting, and fostering the understanding of works of art at the highest possible museum and scholarly standards. With some 1,000 employees and a campus that encompasses nearly 25% of the National Mall, the Gallery’s permanent collection includes more than 150,000 works of Western art, from the Middles Ages to the present. A robust series of exhibitions is just one of many highlights of the museum’s offerings which extends to an internationally recognized, state-of-the-art science and conservation lab and more than 1,500 free public programs available throughout the year. The museum is housed in historic buildings—John Russell Pope’s West Building (1941) and I.M. Pei’s iconic East Building (1978)—as well as the 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden designed by landscape architect Laurie Olin.

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About National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed until late fall 2016 for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at


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