BENNINGTON -- The Bennington Museum has a new executive director, and he has local ties to both Williams College and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.
The museum's board of trustees announced Wednesday the appointment of Robert Wolterstorff as the museum's new executive director. Wolterstorff brings an 20-year career in the arts and museum leadership to his new position. His appointment begins on Aug. 1.
According to supplied material, Wolterstorff is currently an independent curator and non-profit consultant based in Portland, Maine. He 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, the Clark Art Institute, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the college's Chapin Rare Book Library.
"I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to be the Bennington Museum's next director," Wolterstorff said in supplied material. The museum "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."
"Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Bennington Museum," Ray Bolton, chairman of the museum's board of trustees, said in a release. "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."
As executive director of Victoria Mansion from 1998 to 2010, Wolterstorff strengthened the staff and expanded public programs. According to supplied material, he forged "strong relationships with major donors, private foundations, and state and federal agencies, he completed the $1.5 million Campaign for Victoria Mansion ... spearheaded the $1.4 million Tower Campaign, and increased annual fund giving and membership."
He is known as a successful grant writer and grants manager, and won the first Save America's Treasures Grant for architectural preservation in Maine and one of only 80 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 library, Clark Art, 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 and 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 a master of fine arts and a doctorate in art history from Princeton University, where he wrote his dissertation on the 18th century neoclassical architect Robert Adam. He has an master's in art history from Williams College and a bachelor's in biology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Since 2006, he has served as a trustee for the New England Museum Association and currently is the first vice president of that professional organization.
"We as a culture have increasingly rapid and fluid access to information and a much broader understanding of creativity," Wolterstorff said. "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."
-- K.D. Norris
The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main St. For information call 802-447-1571 or visit benningtonmuseum.org.