The beginning of a new calendar year always brings change—and along with it, new opportunities and challenges. The year 2018 has begun in just that way for the Mystic Museum of Art, with two significant announcements. The first is the announcement by George King that he is stepping down as MMoA Executive Director to pursue opportunities and interests closer to his home base in New York City.
George began his term as Executive Director in 2015, succeeding Karen Barthelson in that position. He previously had held similar positions at the Katonah Museum in New York and at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico. The beginning of his tenure at MMoA coincided with the beginning of the implementation of’ the Museum’s three-year strategic plan –a plan developed over the year leading up to his hiring.
Under George’s leadership, the implementation of the strategic plan brought important changes that included the renaming and rebranding of our institution as Mystic Museum of Art, an expanded focus on our permanent collection and curated exhibitions, and a commitment to the next generation of audiences. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Museum Membership, we thank George King for his valued contributions to MMoA, and we wish him every success in his new endeavors.
The second significant announcement impacting the start of 2018 for the Museum is the departure of Dawn Salerno, Deputy Director for Public Engagement and Operations. Dawn is leaving MMoA to become Executive Director of the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum, in New Bedford.
Dawn has been an integral part of our institution for ten years, following positions in the education departments of The Wadsworth Atheneum and Lyman Allyn Art Museum. In addition to running MMoA education programs, supervising volunteers, and managing operations, she has been a principal architect of MMoA’s signature programs and innovative enhancements such as the Voxish speaker series, Artini Hour, and Art after Dark.
In our progression from Mystic Arts Center to Mystic Museum of Art, it was Dawn’s vision and initiative that led to MMoA’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. She successfully applied for a $10,000 planning grant, reviewed and recommended planning consultants, and coordinated the year-long strategic planning process that included staff, Board Members, Artist and non-artist Members. For the past three years, she has led the implementation of the final plan adopted by the Board.
We congratulate Dawn Salerno on her acceptance of the position of Executive Director of the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum. We also congratulate her on recently being named President of the Board of the New England Museum Association (of which MMoA is a member institution).
Before beginning in her new position at RJD, Dawn has agreed to remain on as MMoA Acting Executive Director for this first month of our transition. Her continued presence is greatly appreciated and will assure an important continuity during this time. We wish her the best! She will be missed.
As we anticipate change at MMoA in 2018, we do so with great optimism, reminded of these words of T. S. Eliot: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. To make an end is to make a beginning.”
The MMoA Board is commencing a search for a new Executive Director who will see through the completion of our Strategic Plan implementation and set an inspiring path forward. We are confident that, thanks to the dedication and competence of our professional staff and volunteers, the creative energies of our artists, and the continuing generous support of individuals and organizations from across our community, the Mystic Museum of Art will continue to thrive and grow as a vital cultural resource serving our community
Mary Anne Stets