Smithsonian’s James Pepper Henry Selected as New CEO of Anchorage Museum
July 26, 2007
Pepper Henry replaces Pat Wolf who retires in October 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - James Pepper Henry, an associate director at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), has been chosen as the new director of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. He replaces long-time museum director Pat Wolf, who will retire Oct. 21. Pepper Henry assumes his new position Oct. 22.
Pepper Henry was the unanimous choice of the Anchorage Museum Association (AMA) board of directors after a nine-month national search conducted by Phillips Oppenheim of San Francisco. He will serve as both chief executive officer of the non-profit AMA and director of the city-owned museum.
“We are excited that Jim Pepper Henry is joining the museum, and we believe he has the combination of experience, energy and leadership ability to guide the museum as we expand our facility, collections and public programming,” said AMA board chair Joe Griffith. “Jim has creative ideas for connecting the museum with our diverse community and for broadening our community’s – and especially our young people’s – feeling of ownership and participation in our museum and its programs.”
Pepper Henry is presently associate director for Community and Constituent Services at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC. As one of four associate directors on its senior executive team, he has co-managed the museum’s programming and administration including its annual $33 million federal appropriation and staff of 400. He oversees programs and activities at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City; Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland; and the Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
He is responsible for all outreach programs for Native constituents throughout the Western Hemisphere, including international relations, museum alliances, traveling exhibitions, multi-media web-based programs, culturally sensitive collections management and repatriation activities.
Pepper Henry was raised in Oregon and Oklahoma. He is an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma and is of Muscogee Creek heritage. He has worked at NMAI for the past nine years with increasingly important managerial functions. Prior to his tenure at the Smithsonian he was director of the Kanza Museum of the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma. He served also as the visual arts manager for the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in Portland, Oregon, and as interim curator of American Indian Art at the Portland Art Museum. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon.
He is not a stranger to Alaska, having organized NMAI programs here for the past several years. He also served as the visual arts coordinator of the Institute of Alaska Native Arts in Fairbanks from 1990 to 1992.
Pat Wolf, museum director for the past 20 years, applauded the AMA’s decision to hire Pepper Henry. “Jim’s strong background in community programming and his knowledge of Alaska and the Alaska Native Community will give him a head start as he assumes this important, cultural leadership position for Anchorage and Alaska,” said Wolf. “His experience will be an asset as the museum expands its educational programming and statewide services. I look forward to welcoming Jim to the museum and the community and will be available to assist him with special projects as the need arises.”
Pepper Henry will be formally introduced to the Anchorage community at a reception Oct. 24. The public will have an opportunity to recognize Pat Wolf at a ceremony honoring her for her 33 years of dedicated museum service during the museum’s Topping Off ceremony, celebrating the near completion of the first phase of the construction of its new wing, from 1 to 4 pm, Sunday, Sept. 23.
For more information, call (907) 343-6151.