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Van Shields announcing the Berkshire Museum's New Vision master plan in July 2017.

News Brief: Berkshire Museum executive director is leaving

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By Thursday, Jun 28, 2018 News 1

Berkshire Museum executive director Van Shields to retire

Pittsfield — Berkshire Museum executive director Van Shields is retiring effective Thursday, June 28. David Ellis will act as interim executive director while the museum undertakes a national search for Shields’ successor.

David Ellis. Photo courtesy Forsyth

Shields joined the museum in September 2011. During his tenure, the museum increased its programming based on interdisciplinary interpretation; launched the WeeMuse early childhood education program; and expanded its educational services to area schools, more than doubling the number of student experiences delivered each year. Shields played a key role in fundraising for improvements to the museum, including securing the largest government grant and largest foundation gift in the museum’s history. Working with his colleagues and the museum’s board of trustees, he also played a key leadership role in developing the museum’s New Vision master plan announced in July 2017.

Nina Garlington. Photo courtesy the Rogovoy Report

Ellis brings more than 30 years of experience to the Berkshire Museum, specifically in planning, organizational development, board relations and governance, fundraising, and administration and operations. He served as president of the Museum of Science from 1990 to 2002. He has served as interim president of the Boston Children’s Museum, and interim executive director of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of American Alliance of Museums and the board of advisors for the MIT Museum.

Nina Garlington will move to a new position supporting Ellis as chief of staff, responsible for coordinating museum planning and programming across departments. A new chief engagement officer will be named. No other staff changes are planned.


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  1. Stephen Cohen says:

    The retirement comes at a perfect time, right after he destroyed the institution’s credibility and ability to function as other than a science museum. Hit and run is the best description I can think of. His deacessioning of the core of the institutions artworks was a violation of the standards all museums pledge to adhere to. He should be ashamed of himself, and his manipulation of his board. Yes Mr. Rockwell, we will love and cherish your paintings, at least until we need a new terrarium. Shame on him and his enablers.

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