The Board of Directors of the Mattatuck Museum and M. Catherine Smith, president of the museum Board have announced the appointment of Robert Burns as the museum’s new executive director. He will assume leadership of the Museum effective February 20, 2012.
Burns brings to the position 20 years of administrative and fundraising experience at a variety of not-for-profit institutions, culminating with the last nine years as Vice President for Development at The Olana Partnership, the nonprofit support arm of Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York. Olana, a National Historic Landmark, is the Persian-inspired home and studio of American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church, a major artist of the Hudson River School. Burns worked with the curatorial and programming personnel on the development and funding of exhibitions and public programs.
During Burns’ tenure, he worked to secure $15 million for endowment and capital projects. Burns noted, “The Mattatuck is compelling in that the museum’s new focus on American art builds on my experience at Olana, while providing an opportunity to expand well beyond the Hudson River School.”
“I am eager to begin my work with the Mattatuck Museum and look forward to getting to know the Waterbury community,” Burns said. “My passion for American art, the museum’s amazing collections, wonderful staff and dedicated Board make this an ideal match.”
Burns holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from West Virginia University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Carolina.
“We are delighted to have attracted such a qualified chief executive,” said Cathy Smith. “Bob Burns has raised millions in support during his career and believes that museums should engage the broad community. He supports the Mattatuck’s new mission of emphasizing American art while maintaining our strong history programs.”
“The current executive director, Marie Galbraith, announced early this year her intent to retire in 2012,” said Smith. Galbraith served as Director of Community Programs for 13 years at the Mattatuck Museum and then as Education and Executive Director. Among her many accomplishments have been increasing attendance and participation of school and community groups in the Museum. She has led several oral history projects in partnership with community groups and area residents. These stories and images of 20th century life in Waterbury are part of the museum’s award winning exhibit of regional history.
“Marie has brought us to the stature we have today, particularly in the areas of education, community outreach and history,” said Smith. “The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and has been a lynchpin in the revitalization of downtown Waterbury.”
Smith continued, “We recently expanded our mission to the broader field of American art. We want to take advantage of opportunities for gifts of important artworks to expand the collection and to expand our audiences in the 10-town region. We are very optimistic about our future.”
The selection of Burns culminates a national search for a new executive director. Smith chaired the Search Committee, which retained search consultant Marilyn Hoffman of Museum Search & Reference in Manchester, NH and Boston. The Search Committee members were James Behuniak, Mary Rosengrant-Chiappalone, C. Hiram Upson, and Kris Jacobi.