Angela Mack is the new executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art, according to Tuesday’s Post and Courier. She has been with the Gibbes for two decades. For the past five years, she has served as the museums deputy director and chief curator.
The announcement comes more than a month after Todd Smith resigned suddenly as executive director. Despite suspicions that he’d been pushed out, inquiries to board members, museum staffers, and former employees suggest the museum was satisfied with Smith’s work. He was leaving (his last day is June 30) for personal reasons.
Mack’s appointment is also a surprise. Tom White, chair of the Gibbes’ board of directors, said publicly that there would be a nationwide search for a new director that would commence some time during the summer.
Now that Mack has been installed, it’s not clear why she would be the right choice. Indeed, she has been at the museum for a long time. And indeed she shepherded the upcoming exhibition, one that’s getting national attention, on slavery through the lens of landscape painting. But curating is different from leading an institution.
While being a curator requires management and operational acumen, being a director requires a vision — a dream — and the social and political skills to inspire others, especially Charleston’s patron class, to rally together to achieve that dream. I’d like to know more about Mack’s accomplishments in that regard.
By the looks of it, this might be a short-term solution. According to the P&C report, the museum is in some trouble financially. It reported a deficit of more than $618,000 in three of the past five years. If that’s truly a problem for the Gibbes (I’m unconvinced; there were up years in that five-year span; check out for yourself the Gibbes’ IRS tax forms for 2004, 2005, and 2006), then Mack may be
just the kind of “crisis-manager” the museum needs, someone who’s not going to ask for much from her board while providing solid leadership.
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