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New museum director makes good first impression

July 19, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - While there are many in Washington County who like the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the new director is going to try to make the institution a place that is loved and treasured, the museum's president, Spence Perry, said Sunday.

One of the reasons the board chose Joseph T. Ruzicka to become the museum's director is that he understood that goal and has plans on how to make that happen, including having projects at the museum for seniors and young professionals, Perry said.

Perry was one of many people making positive remarks Sunday at a reception for Ruzicka that drew more than 200 people to the museum.

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The fact that the museum opened the reception to the general public indicates how the museum board and Ruzicka want the community to be more involved in the future, Perry said.

Ruzicka became the museum director on July 1, replacing former curator Jean Woods, who served as the museum's director for 21 years before retiring in July 2003.

At times there was a line of people waiting to meet and talk with Ruzicka.

Ruzicka said he found the turnout "heartening."

"We are so glad to be here. It is a beautiful area," Ruzicka said.

Ruzicka was the executive administrator of the Association of Art Museum Curators in New York.

He 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.

His work experience and education were major factors in his selection as director, board members at the reception said Saturday.

"It was as good as it gets," board member H. Clayton Moyer said of Ruzicka's background. "He has a deep appreciation of where the museum has been and where it needs to go."

"We are very excited. He comes with a wealth of knowledge, a lot of experience and a great attitude," said board member John Newby.

Other community members who have met him also had compliments.

"He seems like a wonderful fellow," said Art Callaham, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee,

"He seems very impressive. He is very enthusiastic," said James Hamill, executive director of the Washington County Health System.

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