Jenna Schneider – Executive Director at the Tel Aviv Museum American Friends (TAMAF)


Jenna Schneider - Executive Director at the Tel Aviv Museum American Friends (TAMAF)

Jenna Schneider joins the Tel Aviv Museum American Friends (TAMAF) as Executive Director after a decade in the art world. Prior to joining TAMAF, Jenna worked as the International Exhibitions Manager at Phillips Art Auction House. During her time at Phillips, she was responsible for launching the first online private viewing room, driving record growth, and serving as the primary contact for private clients. During her tenure, she oversaw Milton Avery: A Sense of Place, Andreas Emenius, Ground/Breaking, London Desired, Dindga McCannon, Flawless: Shaun Leane, Keith Haring: Falling UP, Ten Monkeys and a Dolphin: Banksy & KAWS, A Good Show For Strange Times: Curated by Vito Schnabel, NOMEN, Tatlin, and Helen Frankenthaler: Paintings, 1973-1981. Additionally, Jenna launched SOLUS: BY HEBRU BRANTLEY, a 3D virtual experience, a first of its kind for any auction house. Previously, she worked for Sotheby’s and Vito Schnabel Gallery.  

In her new role, Jenna will be developing and spearheading TAMAF’s growth throughout the Americas and representing the museum as its ambassador, leading daily operations, and driving board engagement.

Jenna is a graduate of Indiana University and resides in New York City. 

What was your first job in the Arts and what was the most useful or important thing you learned in that experience?

The first official job was working in Post-Sale Services at Sotheby’s for the Contemporary Art Department. The value of task management and organization was my biggest takeaway from that role. It was also a fantastic 101 to learn the important players in the business.       

Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?

I grew up around art and loved creating art. I knew that I wanted to work in the Art world in High School yet did not know what steps would be needed to meet my goal.  I met with the head of the Andy Warhol Foundation in NYC for advice on how to enter the Art World. I then contacted Sotheby’s Institute before starting my undergraduate education to ask what their ideal candidate for their graduate program would major and minor in. They seemed surprised that a high school student would have a five-year plan and the Institute willingly provided me with the valuable advice of majoring in Business and minoring in Art History. I took their advice seriously and double majored in Arts Administration and Art History, with a minor in Spanish as an undergraduate.  

What do you do now?

In my role as Executive Director at the Tel Aviv Museum’s American Friends, I collaborate with the Board of Directors to identify, create and implement strategic plans to actualize business objectives. I am the American representative of the company at social and corporate events in ways that strengthen the brand and communicate the company’s message. Our 2022 focus is creating entirely new programming to entice, develop, and engage existing and new members with TAMAF.  

Where are you from and what is the arts community like. 

I grew up in Dobbs Ferry, a small town that is part of the Rivertowns in Westchester, just 35 minutes north of  New York City. Not only were Arts an integral part of this community, but the proximity to NYC allowed me easy access to the beauty and culture that the city’s institutions offered.   

Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?

I believe that growing up so close to Manhattan in a community that supported art on a very local level helped me develop a strong appreciation for art and the artists. As a high school student, I had the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of art through a high-level art class as part of the International Baccalaureate program. This was an incredible introduction to the Contemporary Art Market that helped develop my appreciation for aesthetics and those who create it. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?

Networking and nurturing relationships with colleagues who share a burning desire to be in this world. Always be prepared for challenges by taking thoughtful risks. Look for a mentor and always pay it forward by helping those who come after you. 

What is one of the greatest accomplishments in your career so far? And what has been a challenge?

The biggest challenge was reevaluating and modifying the way Art was presented within a global pandemic. Working as an integral member of a skeletal team while representing an international company through transactions was unchartered territory. My greatest accomplishment was that this teamwork resulted in an increase in the department’s revenue by 107%, an incredible success historically for Phillip’s Private Sales department. 

How is your current job adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape? What do you think can be done better, if anything?

Stay tuned to our new programming coming this Spring 2022!

What do you think defines a good employee? And what defines a good boss?

A good employee will go above and beyond their role. No task is too big or too small. That eagerness to execute to the best of one’s ability is not only seen by managers but it’s taken into consideration how this person can fit into an organization in the long term. A good boss provides an employee with the perfect balance of guidance/expectation and then independence to execute. A good boss encourages individuals to function as a team to support one another, encourages independence in managing their responsibilities, and has their back. 

What is your advice for making yourself stand out in the workplace? Any good tips for giving a great interview?

Following graduation, pursue internships from well-respected institutions that offer experience in different aspects of the field. Once this experience is on your CV, employers will see that you are eager to learn the varying aspects of the Art World, which will allow you to stand out. The next step is what you bring to your interview. You need to sell yourself. Identify what you need to feel confident. Dress professionally so the interviewer can see you in the role. Show your passion and willingness to learn. Overprepare for the interview by learning about the museum/gallery, the artists and the works they represent, their reputation in the field, and the person with whom you are interviewing. Remember that a job interview is not just about the interviewer. You are also deciding if this is the right fit for you. Ask questions! 

What artwork is/was in your home office?

Bianca Nemelc, Alex Diamond, Christo, Wayne Thiebaud, KAWS, Jonas Wood, Takashi Murakami, David Shrigley, Chaim, Dorothy Koppelman, Ragnar Kjartansson and Hebru Brantley

What is/was your greatest WFH challenge? Or a WFH luxury you don’t want to lose ever again?

At the onset of the Pandemic, my greatest WFH challenge not setting boundaries. There were so many uncertainties, including health, job security, and culture, that I really just dove deep into my work, which was frequently 24/7. I did not think that WFH would last as long as it did. As time went on, I  strove to achieve a healthier balance which allowed me greater job satisfaction and better productivity. 

Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?

Make sure you are well versed in the digital landscape – whether that is NFTs, coding, or learning new design programs to set you apart from the traditional skillset. Accept and acknowledge that your first job will most likely not be your dream job and that is OK. It has taken me years to get to my dream job and I would not be here if it wasn’t for the varying experiences and supportive people I met along the way.

What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Yes, I may be biased, but this exhibition is truly mind-blowing. To see this show with top-tier examples of her body of work was a privilege. As the show is nearly sold out – I highly recommend seeing the show before it closes. 

How do you think the art world can become more transparent?

The art world would benefit from having more supportive mentorship programs that will provide clear and manageable expectations for young professionals coming into the field. Realistic salary transparency is also an area that our industry needs to address, as well. 

If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?

Julian Schnabel, John Key, Rashid Johnson, Allison Zuckerman, and Doodles.

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