Cedar Rapids Museum of Art announces retirement of Executive Director Terry Pitts

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The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA) announced today that Executive Director Terry Pitts will retire from his position effective June 30, 2013, after thirteen years of outstanding leadership of the Museum. His retirement was made public at a meeting of the Museum’s Board of Trustees yesterday.

In announcing Pitts’ departure, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art President Tim Hill said, “Terry has given a great gift to our community by evolving the Museum of Art into a stronger and more vibrant organization through his strong leadership.  His accomplishments include a dynamic exhibition program featuring important exhibitions such as Grant Wood at 5 Turner Alley and Art in Roman Life: From Villa to Grave and the photography exhibition of the city’s 2008 flood; the acquisition and restoration of Grant Wood’s studio; and an increased endowment that helps to secure the Museum’s future.  Terry has served as a strong leader to Cedar Rapids’ cultural community and positioned the Museum to continue to grow and lead well into the future.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Terry for all he has given to the Museum and our city.”

Pitts joined the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in 2000 after twenty-five years at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, where he had been Director for the last eleven of those years.  “This has been a dream job for me.  The Museum of Art is an integral part of the life of this community and that has made it possible for us to organize exceptional exhibitions and serve as a forum for thinking more deeply about the things that are important to this region.  I will never forget the thrill of bringing Grant Wood’s American Gothic back to Cedar Rapids where it was created and seeing it hung in our galleries, or listening to the conversations that took place every day during our powerful exhibition of photography that documented the 2008 flood.”

During Pitts’ tenure, the Museum strengthened its permanent collection by adding more than 680 new artworks; completed a successful $12.3 million endowment and capital campaign in 2003; installed state-of-the-art compact shelving; and greatly increased the number of admission-free days.  He also served an important role during the 2008 flood, overseeing the Museum’s recovery and reopening, providing gallery space for the flooded National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library to present its collection, and giving storage space for the art collections of the Cedar Rapids Community School District and the Cedar Rapids Public Library.  Pitts credited others for their contributions, saying, “Everything that we have accomplished at the Museum has been made possible by a supporting and generous community, a thoughtful and visionary Board, and a great professional staff.”

Pitts also currently serves on the Board of the NewBo City Market and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors.  “I am looking forward to remaining active in the community,” he said.  “My idea of retirement is to be very busy.”

The Board of Trustees has named Sean Ulmer, currently Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, as the Museum’s Interim Executive Director.  According to Hill, a search committee will be formed to begin looking for a new Executive Director, who could start as early as this fall.

“Sean’s seven-year history with the Museum will provide us with an extremely smooth transition.  Because of Sean’s experience, and Terry’s legacy, the Museum is in a strong position to move forward and fulfill its mission while finding a permanent Executive Director,” said Hill.


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