MONTEREY, Mass. — Heather Kowalski has been named the new executive director of the Bidwell House Museum, a 1760s historic house and gardens in Monterey.
Effective May 1, Kowalski will take over the director position from Barbara Palmer, who has served the museum as executive director for the past seven and a half years.
"I am excited to welcome Heather Kowalski to this leadership role. Heather has served as the assistant to the executive director for the past one and half years," said Rob Hoogs, president of the Bidwell House Museum. "She brings excellent leadership, passion for education about historic houses, and terrific museum expertise to this position."
Kowalski worked previously at the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art, both in Pittsburgh, prior to relocating to the Berkshires. Her husband Jesse Kowalski is curator of exhibitions at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
"At the same time, the board and I are very proud of Barbara Palmer on her appointment to be associate director for museum budget and operations at the Williams College Museum of Art," Hoogs said. "She has been a consummate professional and we have been very fortunate to have her as director for all these years."
Palmer joined the board in congratulating Kowalski.
"I have worked closely with Heather, and I know the museum is in good hands," she said. "Heather has been instrumental in the restoration campaign, and she is bringing superb professional expertise to the museum."
Palmer also thanked the board.
"I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead the Bidwell House and to build the museum's education programs and public visibility. Moreover, I am incredibly proud of the Bidwell board and the whole community for the successful – and still ongoing – restoration campaign for the historic buildings," she said. "With Heather's appointment and this caring community, I know the museum will rise to new heights."
Prior directors and staff of the museum are serving in a number of cultural organizations around the country. Lisa Simpson, director of the Bidwell House Museum from 1992 to 1995 and as an interim director in 2000, is currently the director of the New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro Falls, N.H. Anita Carroll Weldon, director from 1996 to 2000, is director of the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve in Keene, N.H. Joanna Jennings, assistant to the director from 2007 to 2010, is museum manager for the American Red Cross in Danville, N.Y.
Closer by, Chris Caccamo, head docent and caretaker from 2007 to 2011, is head gardener at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge.
"The Bidwell House Museum has proven to be a fertile training ground for museum professionals," Hoogs said.
The Bidwell House will reopen for house tours after a grand opening reception and concert on May 28. The grounds, gardens and four miles of trails are open for free year-round. The Bidwell House Museum is located on Art School Road in Monterey, a "country mile" off Tyringham Road. The 1760s house is a National Register property with a collection of period furnishings, and it sits on 192 acres at the original center Township No. 1.
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