A special meeting of the Carnegie Museums board yesterday made official what has been expected all week; John Wetenhall has been selected as the new president of the 116-year-old system. Wetenhall will oversee the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. He is the ninth person to hold the post. Wetenhall will succeed David Hillenbrand who spent five years in the position.
Wetenhall is currently the executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. He also serves on the boards of the American Association of Museums and the U.S. National Committee of the International Council of Museums and has been museum director for the Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee and Miami Museum of Art in Florida.
Wetenhall says he will work to break down any silos that separate the four museums under his charge. “I look forward to encouraging collaboration across these four great museums—and even more, to opening our institution to partnerships with cultural, scientific, and educational institutions throughout Pittsburgh and beyond,” says Wetenhall
Board members say Wetenhall jumped to the front of the pack of potential candidates. “John immediately stood out to our committee, first on paper and then even more so in person,” says Lee Foster, chair of the Carnegie Museums board of trustees, who led the search. “He has devoted his career to museums and museum management—first as an art historian and curator, then as a museum director—and it’s obvious that he is passionate about his work. He also appreciates the complexities and the tremendous opportunities unique to an organization with multiple parts, and he led such an organization through significant growth and expansion.
Wetenhall says he is looking forward to funding new ways to get the collection outside of the museums’ walls by using the Internet and other new technologies.
"There are a lot of up front costs in those projects, but once materials are online they become very affordable," Wetenhall says.
Wetenhall will join Carnegie Museums on March 7.