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Museum director resigns

After 21 years, Woods to take it eary, refocus life

After 21 years, Woods to take it eary, refocus life

August 01, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

After 21 years as director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Jean Woods has decided to take it easy for a while and refocus her life.

Thursday was Woods' last day in the post she held since 1982. But her legacy of acquiring fine works of art, inspiring both artists and patrons while attracting the public to the City Park landmark will live on.

"I like doing research and I've always been interested in art history," Woods said.

Woods said she may even dust off her writing skills, honed in an early career as an editor with Harper and Row Publishers.

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With an undergraduate degree from Baylor University and master's in journalism/mass communications from the University of South Carolina, Woods, 56, got into the art profession through a heritage of art appreciation. And her keen eye and discerning taste haven't gone unnoticed over the years.

"Jean has guided this museum with total dedication, unswerving loyalty and sound artistic knowledge," said Spence Perry, president of the museum's board of trustees, who said he accepted Woods' resignation with much regret.

The search already is on for a new director.

During Woods' tenure, the museum was reaccredited twice, most recently by the American Association of Museums in 2001.

Founded by Hagerstown native Anna Brugh Singer and her husband, artist William Henry Singer Jr., the museum was incorporated in 1929. The museum has more than 71,000 visitors per year, Woods said.

Expanded several times over the years, the fine arts museum's primary focus is on 19th-century and early 20th-century American art, but its 12 galleries showcase a collection of 7,000 works that include old masters as well as contemporary works.

There are works from Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as decorative arts.

In addition to the increase in the art collection during Woods' tenure, the museum's donor base has grown to include art collectors from New England to California. Donations and bequests have increased, with Woods adding more than 15 endowment funds.

Perry said the endowment has grown from $281,000 to more than $4 million.

"We have a fabulous collection for a small museum," Woods said. "It's a lot of work, but we have wonderful treasures."

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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