Associate Administrator - The Lightning Field

Application deadline: Open until filled

Part-time position based in New Mexico

Background

The Lightning Field (1977), by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of art situated in a remote desert area of western New Mexico. Commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation, it exemplifies Dia's commitment to supporting art projects whose nature and scale exceed the limits normally available within the traditional museum or gallery. The Lightning Field is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. A sculpture to be walked in as well as viewed, De Maria carefully considered all aspects of visiting this site. The Lightning Field is intended to be experienced over an extended period of time, and visitors may make reservations (in writing) to stay overnight at the artwork during the months of May through October.

Position Summary:

The year-round Associate Administrator is an essential member of the team that stewards the artwork and facilitates the experience of The Lightning Field. The Associate Administrator handles all aspects of visitor reservations in keeping with De Maria’s vision and is the front-line contact for members of the public interested in this work. This position maintains a visitor database and works closely with the Curator and New York office on administrative aspects of operations including communication with on-site staff, account and bill management, as well as database management. The Associate Administrator is also responsible for supporting community and academic partnerships, the longevity of the artwork, and other duties as necessary that may arise from maintaining the experience of this unique work of art.

Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities:

Visitor and Public Services

  • Work with Curator and on-site staff, to ensure the highest standards of visitor experience in the presentation of this artwork. 
  • Handle all general inquiries regarding the artwork, responding to inquiries from the public or forwarding to appropriate Dia staff.
  • Manage all aspects of visitor reservations, including serving as the first and continued point of contact for visitors until their arrival in Quemado; responding in a timely way to requests for reservations, questions about the visiting process or special requests and circumstances; soliciting feedback from visitors and sharing with Curator and on-site staff, in order to report on and improve operations.
  • Maintain and improve reservations systems and operations for the visiting season, proposing improvements and updates for the website, reservation forms, procedures and payment options, and working with the Curator, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer to institute them. 
  • Maintain and improve a visitor database for accuracy and understanding of site visitor ship.
  • Maintain familiarity with the visitor experience, suggest and where appropriate implement any improvements or anticipated needs to Curator and site staff.
  • Develop and implement visit policies in consultation with Curator, site staff, and Dia Visitor Services to balance safety, visitor experience, and visitor access.

Field Operations

  • Regularly communicate with on-site staff about the visitor schedule, changes in the schedule, unusual visitor requests, and other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Anticipate need for supplies and equipment and assist in procurement as needed by on-site staff, as well as major equipment and vehicle purchases in consultation with New York office.
  • Provide signage and other printed information for the Quemado office and visitors’ cabin.
  • Make deposits and visitor refunds, manage bank accounts, vendor accounts, bill payment, and leases with oversight from Curator and Finance Department.
  • Maintain post office box and receive mail deliveries of bills and check payments for visitor reservations.
  • Create timely and accurate monthly financial reports for the Curator and the Finance Department in New York. 
  • Maintain paper and digital records related to The Lightning Field operations in consultation with Curator and Archivist.

Stewardship

  • Communicate and work with Curator and on-site staff to help resolve problems that may occur with visiting operations or facilities.
  • Assist with communication between Quemado staff and NY office
  • Act as Dia representative in New Mexico, research and stay informed of land and cultural issues at and surrounding the site. Create and maintain connections with regional cultural services institutions, communities, and local experience in culture and ecology.
  • Create and maintain relationships with academic institutions to increase student and learner visitor ship to site.
  • Research and advise on process improvements and operational efficiencies
  • Provide brief weekly updates to Curator, prepare the year-end report at the end of the season, and any other reporting as required.

General/Other Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Regular visits to the site.
  • Address unconventional circumstances or operational issues that may arise.
  • Maintain administrative manual with updated procedures and forms.

Education, Certification, Experience:

  • Bachelors’ degree in art or art history desirable.
  • Administrative experience and basic bookkeeping skills required.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities:

  • Must be eager to learn the history and operations of The Lightning Field, and demonstrate ability to retain and maintain an understanding of and commitment to the artist’s intention for presentation of The Lightning Field to the public
  • Experience in visitor services or public engagement preferred.
  • Must be extremely organized, detail oriented, and self-directed, and able to handle complex communications in a fast-paced environment.
  • Must have excellent communication skills, be friendly, open, and engaging with visitors, staff, and community members alike. The ability to quickly, enthusiastically, and knowledgably respond to visitor requests and questions is also required.
  • Basic financial and office management skills required. Must have working knowledge of Outlook, Excel, Word, and Google Calendar.
  • Familiarity with contemporary art, land art, and familiarity with geography, land and historical issues in New Mexico (particularly Quemado/Pie Town area) desirable.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands:

  • Work is performed primarily remotely or in a home office, however the person must be within a reasonable driving distance to the site.
  • Requires the use of phone, computers and other equipment typical of an office environment and ability to solve minor technological issues independently.
  • Requires a driver’s license
  • Hours vary throughout the year but require 8-10 hours/day during February, when most reservations are made. Hours in March and April average 30 hours/week. From May to October there is an average of 20 hours/week. During this time (the visiting seasons), the Associate Administrator is on call from 11-3 p.m. daily (seven days a week) to answer questions and help visitors trouble shoot as they travel to The Lightning Field.

Please note that to provide a safe workplace free of recognized hazards and to take every possible step to reduce the transmission of COVID among our employees, Dia Art Foundation requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon hire, except for those who obtain an exemption due to a medical condition, a religious belief, or pregnancy.  

Qualified candidates are invited to apply by completing the online job application linked HERE, and attaching a letter of interest and resume. 

Part-time employees are eligible for paid sick days, paid time off in lieu of holidays worked, and participation in the 401(k) savings program with company match. Employees have the opportunity to learn about the collections through presentations by curators, artists, writers, and historians. Staff ID badges gain reduced or free admission to most American museums and arts organizations. 

Dia Art Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, national origin, ethnic origin, citizenship status, disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law in its employment policies. In addition, Dia will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and supports a neurodiverse workplace. 

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