Director appointed for museum

April 16, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

A new director has been chosen for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, museum trustees said Thursday.

Joseph T. Ruzicka, executive administrator of the Association of Art Museum Curators in New York, will become the museum's director effective July 1, according to a statement from the trustees. He replaces former curator Jean Woods, who served as the museum's director for 21 years before retiring last July.

Ruzicka holds a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a master's degree and a doctorate from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He has held research and curator positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in the New York City area, and at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, N.Y. and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Ruzicka has written more than two dozen books and essays for art publications and has organized more than a dozen travel and loan exhibitions.


"I am absolutely delighted that the museum's board of trustees has selected me as the next director," Ruzicka said in a statement. "The building is an ideal and inviting space in which to look at art, and the collection has many great strengths - the envy of any director."

Following a national search conducted by Connecticut-based Management Consultants for the Arts, the museum trustees voted unanimously to offer Ruzicka the position, museum President Spence Perry said.

He said Ruzicka's plans for integrating the museum "into the life of Washington County and the Cumberland Valley on a broad front" gave him the edge over other candidates.

Perry said Ruzicka, who grew up in Baltimore, made two trips to Hagerstown to meet with the board, "and when he came back, he came back armed with some potential initiatives" the board liked. Among them were ideas for expanding the museum's programs for students, currently limited to third to fifth grades, into the middle and high schools and enhancing the museum's ties to Hagerstown Community College, Shepherd College and other nearby colleges.

Perry said the museum had begun an internship program for students training to be arts industry professionals.

"Having a director with this kind of background makes it very credible," he said.

The search drew about 60 serious applicants, and the consultant narrowed the pool of candidates to a dozen for museum officials to consider.

"My hope is that the museum becomes the place that everyone feels they must visit, the major institution in the cultural life of the region," Ruzicka said.

The museum, in Hagerstown's City Park, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

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