Edith Farnsworth House Historic Site

Edith Farnsworth House Historic Site


Senior Manager, Public Programs & Interpretation (Edith Farnsworth House Historic Site)


Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a pathbreaking mid-twentieth century physician, professor and classically trained musician envisioned what is now known as the Edith Farnsworth House as a weekend retreat from the city. The design of the home was first conceived by world-renowned architect Mies van der Rohe in 1945 and completed in 1951. The Edith Farnsworth House is an icon of modern architecture and continues to inspire artists and designers around the world. The house is a building of white-painted steel and glass, which stands in striking contrast to its naturalistic setting. Located on the ancestral land of the Bodwéwadmi, Myaamia, Ochéthi Šakówi?, Kiikaapoi, Kaskaskia, and Peoria peoples, the Edith Farnsworth House is situated on a floodplain landscape along the Fox River. The setting is integral to Mies van der Rohe’s aesthetic conception and continues to be managed and developed as the house and site are restored and interpreted.


Under the direction of the Executive Director & Curator, the Senior Manager of Public Programs & Interpretation manages the various ways the site and its human history are interpreted and engaged with by the public. The Senior Manager will develop and/or enhance guided and self-guided tours, group and educational tours, exhibitions, programs, marketing, and special events to design inspirational multi-sensory experiences for the public. The Senior Manager will develop and manage the ongoing implementation of an Interpretive Framework Plan that will advance the National Trust agenda for historic sites and the strategic objectives of the Edith Farnsworth House Historic Site. This position supervises the Senior Assistant of Exhibitions & Programs and the Marketing & Events Coordinator. It also guides the content delivered by the Senior Assistant of Educational Tours & Guest Services and site guides.

This position is grant funded for a period of two years from the date of hire, with potential to become an ongoing position based on performance and increased revenues, and subject to the availability of continued funding. The successful candidate will have relevant experience developing and managing dynamic interpretation and programs at a historic site, museum, or comparable venue. Experience in interpretive planning is required, and proven experience cultivating/strengthening community relationships and community-based programs with diverse communities is a plus. Managerial experience, including some supervisory experience, and outstanding communication and organizational skills are needed to perform this job.

This position offers flexibility for a hybrid work arrangement but does require a minimum of two days working on-site, therefore candidates will need to be Chicago-area residents.


Program Development 

  • Collaborate with the Executive Director, senior site staff, the National Trust’s Director of Interpretation & Education, and the Senior Vice President of Historic Sites to:
    • Develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive interpretive plan that advances the organization’s mission of telling the full American story and that reflects the needs and interests of the local community.
    • Plan, implement and evaluate interpretive programs and products. This includes, but is not limited to, on-site and remote programs, activities, demonstrations, tours, events, community engagement opportunities, social media, web-based digital projects, brochures, maps, etc.
  • Plan and manage public programs and activities for adults and children that foster social justice, sustainability, and wellbeing in ways that connect them to the site’s natural and historical resources in relevant and meaningful ways.
  • Determine and develop programming
  • Build trust and foster ongoing relationships with local community groups and organizations.
  • Collaborate with community members in the development and delivery of interpretation at the site.
  • Position the site to integrate Justice, Equity, Diversity, Access, and Inclusion measures site wide as it relates to public programs and interpretation, and ensure metrics are tracked, targets are reached, and timely maturation of the site in these practices.
  • Through interpretation and public programs, grow visitation, engage new and repeat visitors, analyze, and evolve experiences.
  • Ensure the National Trust agenda for historic sites and the strategic objectives of the Edith Farnsworth House Historic Site are met, including increased in-person and virtual participation, audience and revenue increases, and audience diversification.

Program Management

  • Manage display and use of site collections and archives in collaboration with the John & Neville Bryan Senior Director of Museum Collections and the Executive Director.
  • Work with the Manager of Operations to help recruit, hire, train, and supervise guides, volunteers and other staff related to public programming and interpretation. Develop workplans, organize workflow and delegate assignments; monitor employee productivity and performance, provide constructive feedback and coaching, and conduct annual performance reviews; work with management, direct reports and Office of Human Resources as needed to identify, respond to, and resolve problems or performance issues as they arise.  Work with the Manager of Operations to monitor and approve timekeeping and related budget for direct reports.
  • Develop policies and procedures for interpretation, including a staff training manual and program. Develop, deliver, and maintain up-to-date interpretive training modules and resources.
  • Oversee management of group and educational tour scheduling by appropriate staff.
  • Research site history and share findings with site staff.


  • Collaborate with the Executive Director, other site staff and headquarters staff in helping to obtain financial support through grants and other means, marketing, and communications about public programs and interpretation. Support donor stewardship and engagement by providing donor tours as necessary.
  • Work with Marketing staff at the site and headquarters to ensure language and descriptions reflect the site’s interpretive values. Provide guidance and programmatic content for ticketing, website and social media content, advertising and promotions, donor/sponsor/partners recognition, pricing and promotional discounts, etc.
  • Work with the Manager of Operations and others to manage research, analysis, and reporting of audience statistics and program-related revenue.
  • Along with the Executive Director, act as a spokesperson for the site and ensure interpretive alignment with National Trust brand and messaging.


  • At least 6 years of relevant experience in the field of history interpretation and/or informal education at historic sites, museums, or related organization, including at least 3 years of supervisory experience.
  • Certified National Association for Interpretation Guide, Trainer and/or Planner preferred.
  • Knowledge of Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House or related Modernist architecture and design a plus. Demonstrated experience with the fundamentals and key practices of interpretation, including site interpretation for both adult and child audiences. Demonstrated knowledge of and experience with public history, history, museum studies or equivalent work experience.
  • Advanced analytical and problem-solving skills, including issue identification and prioritization.
  • Advanced project-management skills, including project budgeting, staffing and planning. Ability to achieve results with general supervision.
  • Effective presentation skills. Excellent writing, spelling, grammar, and proofreading skills, as well as strong verbal communication and customer service skills. Strong organizational skills. Excellent attention to detail.
  • Experience successfully managing key stakeholders and relationships. Proven ability to collaborate across departments to implement processes and achieve results. Track record of building and maintaining productive relationships with multiple stakeholders. When working onsite, public contact and ability to work successfully in close proximity to others required.  When working off site, ability work effectively in a remote environment, maintaining productivity and communications to meet deadlines and goals, is required.
  • Demonstrated success in engaging culturally diverse colleagues and stakeholders. Bi-lingual language skills a plus. Ties to culturally diverse affinity groups, professional organizations, or related associations are a plus. Able to talk effectively about identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability, or gender in plain, specific terms as they relate to the workplace and cultural heritage.
  • Ability to prioritize, multi-task efficiently and respond to a high volume of ongoing requests in a timely fashion. Ability to adapt and be flexible in a dynamic work environment. Ability to work effectively with frequent interruptions required. Able to handle frequently changing and/or unscheduled tasks with accuracy. Entrepreneurial spirit and skill set a plus.
  • Proven ability to continually develop skills related to use of rapidly changing technology and communications best practices.
  • Advanced knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel required. Familiarity with other software, including databases, a plus. Experience with website, social media, and related communications software.
  •  Regular and reliable attendance is required.
  •  Ability to drive 15-passenger van (CDL not required) and golf carts occasionally preferred. Valid driver's license and acceptable driving record required. DMV background check required upon offer. Flexible schedule required, with availability to work weekdays, some weekends, and occasional evenings. The schedule for these events will be set in advance
  •  Regular and reliable attendance is required.
  •  Frequent local travel required: must use personal vehicle as public transportation is not available to the site (mileage reimbursed)
This is a full-time, exempt level position, eligible for full benefits, including health, dental and life insurance, retirement benefits, and 3+ weeks of vacation, plus sick time and holidays.
The National Trust and its subsidiaries require all staff to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters (with limited exceptions for religious or medical reasons). 
Hiring Range:  $65,000 - 70,000 per year
Application link: https://nthp.hrmdirect.com/employment/job-opening.php?req=2276330&#job