Anchorage Museum Director Pat Wolf announces retirement effective Sept. 30
February 21, 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - After 31 years of service to the Anchorage Museum, including 20 years as museum director, Pat Wolf announced Feb. 21 that she will retire as chief executive officer of the Anchorage Museum Association (AMA) and director of the Anchorage Museum effective Sept. 30, 2007.
"My life's work has been to champion this museum," Wolf said, "and I have had a wonderful and fulfilling career. It's time now for new leadership to carry on the mission."
The museum grew during Wolf's tenure into one of Alaska's premiere cultural institutions. It expanded facilities, hosted the first regional office of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History Arctic Studies Center and organized award-winning exhibitions of Alaska arts and culture. Its permanent collection doubled in size to 22,000 objects valued at approximately $9 million. The museum also formed a new relationship with The Imaginarium, a hands-on science learning center that will be integrated into the museum's expanded galleries and education programs in 2010.
Since taking over as museum director in 1987, Wolf has helped raise private funds totaling more than $97 million and built an endowment valued at $19 million for the municipally owned institution. In recent years she has helped restructure the museum as a non-profit entity operated by an independent board of directors.
The Anchorage Museum Association has begun a national search for a new CEO of the association and museum.
"I have been steadfast in asserting I would not retire until I was certain we had successfully transitioned to a new and solid non-profit operational structure and had developed a plan for museum expansion that would enhance downtown and broaden the scope of the museum," Wolf said. "I believe that, after much hard work on the part of board and staff, we have achieved this. I have every confidence in the new board and will remain a passionate supporter of both the museum and the Anchorage arts community."
Wolf helped expand the museum's mission to encompass the preservation, collection and exhibition of the art, history and science of Alaska and the circumpolar north. Her leadership, characterized by a strong sense of community, helped form the museum's philosophical cornerstone: That by demonstration, leadership and education, the museum will serve the widest possible audience and work with groups and individuals that share a common interest in cultural and educational activities.
"The museum has become a home for dozens of multi-cultural activities where people of all ages can explore their own traditions and share their customs with the community," said Susan Churchill, executive director of Anchorage's Bridge Builders program.
"The museum Pat Wolf has helped build educates the world about Alaska's art, history and culture," said AMA board chair Joe Griffith. "With her dedication to the museum, Pat has led our community to an awareness and appreciation of art and culture rarely seen in other communities the size of Anchorage. The legacy from her truly exceptional career is an institution uniquely positioned to serve the people of Anchorage for decades ahead."
The AMA, Griffith said, is committed to finding new leadership to fulfill the museum's tradition as it completes a $100 million expansion due to open in 2010. "The new museum will be bigger, more dynamic and more challenging than ever," Griffith said. "It will be an outstanding opportunity for a new leader with the creativity, entrepreneurial talent, artistic vision and community awareness to build upon the foundation Pat Wolf has established."
The museum board has selected the San Francisco-based firm Phillips Oppenheim to conduct the CEO search. Phillips Oppenheim has successfully completed searches for the directors of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Katonah Museum of Art, the Neuberger Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, Vero Beach Museum of Art and many others.
Wolf will remain as museum director until Sept. 30 and will help complete the current $116 million capital campaign to support the museum expansion by a Dec. 31 deadline.
"Anchorage is a better, richer community because of Pat Wolf's more than three decades of public service," said Mayor Mark Begich. "Her inspired leadership and ability to dream big helped build a museum of wonder that would be the envy of any city. Pat leaves a legacy in our expanding museum that will serve generations of Alaskans and visitors to our community. I join thousands of Alaskans in wishing her well in the next phase of her life."