American Museum Director to retire

After twelve years as Director of the American Museum and Gardens, Richard Wendorf will be stepping down at the end of 2021.

The announcement was made by the museum’s chairman, Gareth Thomas, who pointed out that ‘December will mark 12 years of Richard’s leadership at Claverton Manor and the completion of a number of major developments, including the relaunch and renaming of the museum two and a half years ago.

 Most recently he has spearheaded the renovation of the Mount Vernon Garden and the creation of the New American Garden and the Children’s Garden.  He is currently building a new leadership team for the museum.  In 2011 he led the museum through its fiftieth-anniversary year with three exhibitions, three publications, and the opening of the renovated Coach House, Stables, and Folk Art Gallery. 

Museum director, Professor Richard Wendorf

He has written Director’s Choice for the museum, as well as an exhibition catalogue for the Angela Conner show.  He has recruited eight new trustees for the museum, and he has initiated a unique series of video documentaries of every exhibition we have mounted since 2011.  And, of course, he continues to lead the museum through the pandemic and into its aftermath.’ 

Richard told Bath Newseum: “I have immensely enjoyed my tenure at the American Museum, and I’m especially pleased by the warm response to the museum’s three new gardens.  But the end of 2021 will mark 32 years of serving as the director of a library or museum, and I therefore feel that it is time to turn to other pursuits.

 I have begun another book (on the Earl of Chesterfield) and look forward to more time to read and write.  And like many people, I have had to postpone my travel plans, including seeing my family in the United States and returning to Rome, which has become something of a second home for me.

 At the moment, however, I want to extend my thanks to everyone in the community who has supported the museum (and me) during the past eleven years.”

 The President of the Halcyon Foundation in New York, Linda Hackett Munson, has said that ‘Richard has been a spectacular director in every way.  With incredible energy and commitment he has fulfilled more than the wildest dreams of my Uncle Dallas Pratt and his friend John Judkyn: to strengthen British and American ties through beautifully curated collections in the Manor House and now the grounds.

  Although we will miss his elegant presence, we are happy to know he is not leaving the Bath area, and know that he will still be part of the museum as he pursues his many varied interests in the coming years.’

In the wider community, Richard has served as a trustee of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, as a Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, as a Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford, and as an active committee member of the Athenaeum in London.

  Throughout his tenure he has continued to keep his work as a scholar active, most notably with the publication later this year by Oxford University Press of Printing History and Cultural Change: Fashioning the Modern English Text in Eighteenth-Century Britain, marking the culmination of over 25 years of research and writing.  Richard also published a memoir, Growing Up Bookish, in 2017.

 Gareth Thomas and other trustees will begin the process of searching for Richard’s successor early in the year and will keep the museum’s members and friends informed as that process unfolds in the months to come.

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