Oversaw major museum expansion and innovative educational programs
Fitchburg, MA – In a short announcement made during remarks at the Fitchburg Art Museum’s eighty-fifth Annual Meeting today, Peter Timms, Director since 1973, announced his retirement effective December 2012.
“This is the 38th time I have addressed this Corporation, and it is with a
bittersweet awareness of life’s changes that I announce I will report to you just once more and that after what will be 39 years, I will retire at the next Annual Meeting.” Timms said. “It’s a great sadness, but it’s time that another chapter in the Museum’s life begins.”
“A search committee under the direction of trustees Lynne Benoit and Joe Sylvia has been formed and will report their activities to the Board.”
Believed to be the longest serving museum director in New England, Timms came to Fitchburg when the Museum was but a single building with three galleries – the old “Cross Barn” at the end of Merriam Parkway off Fitchburg’s upper common. Its budget, which today is $800,000 and has been as high as one million dollars, was $50,000.
Today the Museum, now twice-accredited by the American Museum Association, and described by a prominent Boston art critic (Robert Taylor in the Boston Globe) as a “jewel in the tiara of New England museums”, is a block long, three-building, twelve- gallery complex.
Collections, approximately one thousand objects in 1973, now number over five thousand, and represent nearly all of the world’s major cultures and civilizations.
Annual attendance, under two-thousand in 1973, regularly exceeds sixteen-
thousand and in 2007, following a highly popular exhibition of photography by the renown Ansel Adams, passed twenty-two thousand.
“Running a museum is a tremendously exciting and, when things go right, fulfilling, occupation.”, Timms said. “Of course its going to be sad to leave But, we have an exciting year planned, and, whomever the Trustees select, the new director will have a solid base on which to build. I think the founder (Fitchburg native and artist, Eleanor Norcross 1854 – 1923) would be proud.”