Exhibits and Collection Manager -- Air Zoo

Director of Experience Fulfillment

Position Summary:
Lead all aspects of the Exhibits and Collection function for the Air Zoo, which includes directing teams responsible for the exhibit floor experience, the artifact collection, and aircraft restoration. Your creativity and innovation will flourish while you are providing vision for, creating, and implementing the exhibit strategy for the Air Zoo; designing and delivering an engaging, educational, and inspirational exhibit floor experience for guests of all ages through both temporary and permanent exhibits; ensuring the care, security, and preservation of all artifacts and exhibit items in the Air Zoo collection; overseeing all large-scale aircraft restoration projects; expanding and diversifying the Air Zoo’s partnerships with museums, government agencies, and other entities that design/develop exhibits and/or handle small- and large-scale artifacts; assisting in developing and delivering the Air Zoo’s value proposition to community stakeholders; and developing and leveraging key relationships/partnerships at the local, state, and national levels to ensure revenue goals are met and exceeded.

Exempt Job 


  • Oversees all of the exhibit activities of the Air Zoo as well as the Air Zoo’s collection of artifacts, which includes restoration of loaned and owned aircraft; 
  • Develops, implements, and directs the Air Zoo’s Exhibits and Collection policies, procedures, and plans, and ensures that all activities are aligned to the goals and objectives of the plan as well as the Air Zoo’s overall strategic plan; 
  • Develops and tracks the Exhibits and Collection Department’s annual budget in partnership with the Air Zoo’s Director of Experience Fulfillment; 
  • Manages all employees within the Department, including exhibit professionals, collections/archives specialists, and the restoration team. 
  • Responsibilities include regular performance reviews, monitoring hours worked/time off, ensuring success in all activities/duties performed, and always maximizing individual and team effectiveness; 
  • Develops captivating, interactive guest experiences that ignite a passion for learning and inspire ongoing curiosity for a globally diverse audience; 
  • Plans, coordinates, installs, and supplements short-term, “traveling” exhibit rentals; 
  • Creates and realizes long-term strategy and schedule of interactive, interdisciplinary exhibits/programs that continuously introduce new scholarship in alignment with the Air Zoo’s Strategic Plan; 
  • Monitors effectiveness of exhibits and designs and implements exhibit evaluations; 
  • Drives intellectual effort to ensure structure and content of all displays and exhibits are scientifically and historically correct; 
  • Ensures proper care, security, preservation, cataloguing, and management of the entire Air Zoo artifact collection on and off the exhibit floor; 
  • Provides oversight to Restoration Manager on all aircraft restoration activities, including reporting requirements, of all loaned and owned aircraft;
  • Manages letters of agreement, contracts, loan documents, and all other associated legal paperwork and correspondences;
  • Cultivates and fosters relationships with all internal departments and external museum leaders, exhibits and collections professionals, and pertinent subject matter experts; 
  • Collaborates with the Director of Engagement on identifying and securing grants, sponsors, and other funding sources for exhibits, education programs, and collections activities; 
  • Represents the Air Zoo collection and exhibits at public/private events and through speaking engagements on radio, TV, and public speaking forums of all types; 
  • Contributes to reports for all Air Zoo Board meetings, reporting progress of all exhibits and collections activities and sharing new initiatives; 
  • Teams with the Marketing group to develop materials that will maximize the Air Zoo’s public exposure for all exhibit experiences and unique artifacts as well as for graphic design work on exhibit signage, visitor materials, and other exhibit interpretive materials;
  • Attends all appropriate internal staff meetings; 
  • Ensures communications to Air Zoo staff and volunteers regarding all Department initiatives is always targeted, timely, and effective;
  • Works with an internal/external Exhibits/Content Committee, soliciting ideas from the Committee on all facets of both exhibits and the collection and recruiting help in executing those ideas; 
  • Provides a remarkable experience for every guest of the Air Zoo with every action and every interaction.

Education and Experience Requirements:

  • Prefer 5 or more years of professional experience successfully curating museum exhibitions and managing museum collections.
  • Thorough working knowledge and understanding of museum principles, procedures, and practices pertaining to artifact collections and exhibits. 
  • Strong working knowledge of database applications and accompanying computer skills. 
  • Experience working with Senior-level executives within an organization. 
  • Proven track record of consistently developing experiences that attract and educate diverse audiences, incorporating technology and media in new, interactive, and unexpected ways. 
  • Inspiring, motivating, “can do” attitude with a passion for positively impacting community through interactivity. 
  • Proven experience in evaluating exhibit effectiveness and successfully implementing positive changes based on those evaluations.
  • Significant knowledge of both hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) principles and the history of aviation and spaceflight desired. 
  • Driving work ethic with consistently high level of initiative in all work to be performed. 
  • Demonstrated ability to build and nurture partnerships to the benefit of all stakeholders. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in Museum Studies or comparable museum management. 
  • Masters a plus.
  •  Understanding of nonprofit environment, particularly with an informal education focus, is a plus.

Skills and Abilities Required:

  • Ability to effectively administer a major program of exhibits, A/V components, visual interpretation components, artifacts, and educational programming.
  • Ability to estimate costs, find and schedule human and other resources, develop budgets, and meet all financial and schedule goals. Ability to think strategically and seamlessly turn strategy into action. 
  • Excellent written, visual, and oral communications skills with the ability to engage, inspire, and influence a broad array of internal and external individuals and groups. 
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule of evenings and weekends as needed. Ability to effectively solve problems and handle complex situations. 
  • Superior interpersonal skills to foster effective working relationships at all levels. 
  • Must have strong organizational skills to succeed in tasks ranging from artifact cataloguing to long-range exhibition planning and execution. 
  • Ability to undertake multiple concurrent tasks and work in an environment where interruptions are common. Must maintain confidentiality. 
  • Position requires limited local, regional, and national travel. 
  • Must be able to lift and move containers and boxes, bend and reach overhead.
  • Must be flexible with the ability to work independently and as a team member. 
  • Well-groomed appearance and compliance with the dress and personal appearance policies. 
  • Professional work and punctuality habits. 
  • Ability to work with a widely diverse group of individuals. 
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license and the ability to meet minimum driving requirements.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required.

Submit: Resume, cover letter and salary requirements to: Tamra Stafford Talent Engagement Manager Air Zoo 6151 Portage Rd. Portage, MI 49002 269-350-2815 tstafford@airzoo.org

Posted on the MMA website 3/13.


 The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721      lcbrisson@michiganmuseums.org

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