Vt.’s Bennington Museum gets new director

Dr. Robert Wolterstorff, newly appointed executive director of Bennington Museum in Vermont. Image courtesy of Bennington Museum.

Dr. Robert Wolterstorff, newly appointed executive director of Bennington Museum in Vermont. Image courtesy of Bennington Museum.

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Board of Trustees of the Bennington Museum, a premier regional museum in New England, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Robert Wolterstorff as the museum’s new executive director. Wolterstorff brings an impressive 20-year career in the arts and museum leadership to his new position. Currently an independent curator and nonprofit consultant based in Portland, Maine, Wolterstorff previously served as director of Victoria Mansion in Portland and of Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Philadelphia; and has held curatorial and research positions in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art, and the Chapin Rare Book Library.

“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to be the Bennington Museum’s next director. It has a long and distinguished history representing the arts and culture of Vermont and upper New England, holds great collections, and has an excellent staff. I feel honored to become part of that tradition,” Wolterstorff said. “We as a culture have increasingly rapid and fluid access to information and a much broader understanding of creativity, and I think museums that collect and interpret both art and history have a unique opportunity to make new connections between art, culture, ideas, and industrial history. I am looking forward to serving the museum and the Bennington community.”

As executive director of Victoria Mansion (1998-2010), Wolterstorff strengthened the staff and expanded public programs. Forging strong relationships with major donors, private foundations, and state and federal agencies, he completed the $1.5 million Campaign for Victoria Mansion (1997-2000), spearheaded the $1.4 million Tower Campaign (2001-04), and increased annual fund giving and membership. A highly successful grant writer and grants manager, Robert won the first Save America’s Treasures Grant for architectural preservation in Maine and one of only eight Getty Architectural Conservation Grants awarded worldwide in 2003. He also oversaw management of important collections of fine and decorative arts, and pursued new acquisitions by gift, purchase, and bequest.

Wolterstorff’s academic and professional career in the arts has had two very different focuses: architecture and historic preservation, and works of art on paper. At Victoria Mansion he planned and managed the preservation, conservation, and interpretation of an important National Historic Landmark building. At the Chapin Rare Book Library, Clark Art Institute, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and as an intern in the Art Institute of Chicago, he worked in the field of prints, drawings, and photographs. He has organized numerous exhibitions on subjects ranging from Old Master prints to contemporary art, and from works on paper to furniture, stained glass, upholstery, and architecture. He is currently guest curator for an exhibition on contemporary architecture that will take place at the Portland Museum of Art in 2013. He has lectured and published on topics ranging from Robert Adam, William Morris, and Paul Klee to 19th-century painted decorations, Herter furniture, and brownstone conservation.

Wolterstorff earned an MFA and PhD in Art History from Princeton University, where he wrote his dissertation on the 18th-century Neoclassical architect Robert Adam. He has an MA in Art History from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and a BA in Biology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since 2006 he has served as a trustee for the New England Museum Association (NEMA) and currently is the first vice president of that professional organization. He has served as a grant review panelist for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and is on the advisory committee on heritage tourism for the City of Portland, Maine. Wolterstorff is married and has a son and daughter, 13 and 10.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with this announcement,” says Ray Bolton, Chairman of the Bennington Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Bennington Museum,” said Bolton. “It is with this leadership that the trustees, staff, members, and supporters of the museum look to move forward. We welcome the opportunity to work under Robert’s leadership to develop new donors, sponsors, and members while continuing the museum’s mission to celebrate the history and heritage of the southern Vermont region and to provide a venue for visual and performing arts that enrich our community and our world.” Wolterstorff’s appointment begins on Aug. 1, 2012.

The Bennington Museum, located at 75 Main Street (Route 9) in Bennington, Vt., has the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as the largest collection of 19th-century Bennington pottery. In the other seven galleries, the museum presents a 1924 Wasp touring car, one of only 20 produced, military artifacts, one of the earliest ‘Stars and Stripes’ in existence, fine and decorative arts and more. The museum is complemented by the Hadwen Woods and George Aiken Wildflower Trail. On view through Oct. 30, 2012 is Rockwell Kent’s ‘Egypt: Shadow and Light in Vermont,’ the first exhibit to focus on the artist’s life and work during his years in Vermont, 1919-1925. The museum is just a short ride from Manchester, Williamstown, and eastern New York, and is open every day July through October. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students or to visit the museum shop. Visit the museum’s website www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

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Dr. Robert Wolterstorff, newly appointed executive director of Bennington Museum in Vermont. Image courtesy of Bennington Museum.

Dr. Robert Wolterstorff, newly appointed executive director of Bennington Museum in Vermont. Image courtesy of Bennington Museum.