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Reception held in honor of former museum director

November 19, 2003|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

When Jean Woods began her service at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts 21 years ago, the building was in need of repair, the budget was in the red and there was not enough endowment to cover the year's expenses.

Since her tenure as director of the museum, there have been two expansions, the museum was reaccredited twice, the art collection has grown by fifty percent and the endowment has increased to more than $4 million.

These accomplishments were recurrent themes of conversation among the estimated 300 people who attended a concert and reception at the museum on Sunday, Nov. 16, to honor Woods, recently retired director of the museum.

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"Jean was totally committed to this museum," said Christine Shives, administrative assistant at the museum who worked with Woods for 18 years. "She was instrumental in increasing the endowment and adding some impressive works of art to our holding."

Mary K. Shaw, assistant treasurer for the board of trustees, said, "We are pleased to have this afternoon to honor Jean. Washington County and the art world have been privileged to have her expertise and devotion. Due to her efforts, the museum is among major museums in the Mid-Atlantic region and even nationally."

"If you look at the museum's guest book, you would be amazed to see how far people come and the comments they make. Jean has contributed a great deal to that success," said John M. Waltersdorf, past board member and sponsor of the museum. "This is a real gem of a museum. For our area to have such a museum is a real testament to the support from the community and to the efforts of Jean Woods for the last 20 years."

Woods, a native of Ligonier, Pa., said she has fond memories of going to the museum as a child while visiting family in Hagerstown.

"It's been fabulous to see the renaissance of the museum, to see it gaining national recognition as a major fine art museum and to anticipate continued progress," she said.

Woods recognized the support of city, county and state officials and credited her staff, museum volunteers and members of the community for their interest and support.

Woods thanked the many artists in the audience.

"You are the reason for this institute," she said. "You stimulate our thoughts and continue adding to our artistic heritage."

Norman Coutant presented the museum with a 1937 oil painting by Stokely Webster, "Iva in White Blouse," in honor of Woods. The painting was donated by Webster's wife, Audrey Webster, who was unable to attend the reception.

Anna P. Singer, great-grandniece of William Henry Singer Jr., founder of the museum, performed opera arias and songs from musical theater at the reception for Woods.

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