Berkshire Museum Names New Executive Director
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Museum has named Jeff Rodgers as its new executive director, effective April 1.
Rodgers brings more than 20 years of museum experience to the Berkshire Museum's top job. Rodgers is currently the provost and chief operating officer of the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Fla.
"The Berkshire Museum is, and must continue to be, an integral part of the Berkshire community. The museum creates experiences that spark new thinking and new connections bridging art and history and the natural world," Rodgers said in a statement announcing his hiring. "Over the past few months, I've met with leaders from across the community and came away buoyed by the spirit of cooperation in our conversations. I am eager to lead that work with a commitment to collaboration and transparency. I have a lot of listening ahead."
Rodgers has served in a number of roles at the South Florida Museum. Since 2016, as provost and COO, he has held broad leadership responsibilities for strategic planning, creating innovative programming, fundraising and outreach across the community to build and sustain crucial partnerships and collaborations. A former teacher, Rodgers also served in a variety of roles at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, including as director of the Moveable Museum Program.
Rodgers was the unanimous selection after a four-month search led by the museum's board of trustees. The search was facilitated by a national firm, Brent D. Glass LLC, that specializes in museum management. Berkshire Museum staff and Berkshire community members participated in the search process.
He comes to the museum after a contentious period during which the museum the sold off nearly two dozen pieces of its collection to raise $53 million to create an endowment and to support its "new vision." The backlash from local supporters and other museums was harsh and led to an agreement on the sales hammered out with the attorney general's office. Van Shields, director since 2011 who played a key role in developing the new vision, retired last June.
David Ellis, who has served as interim executive director, will work with Rodgers through a transition period.
"Jeff brings a track record of innovative leadership and creative thinking that will, true to our unchanging mission, take the museum into a secure and successful future," said Elizabeth McGraw, president of the board of trustees, in the statement. "Jeff shares our commitment to finding new and meaningful ways to connect art, science and history for people of all ages across our community and this region. We are grateful to David Ellis for his leadership and wise counsel in this important time."
Members of the community involved in the selection included Julianne Boyd, artistic director of the Barrington Stage Company; Jennibeth Gomez, marketing and social media specialist; Jason McCandless, superintendent of Pittsfield Public Schools and former superintendent of Lee Public Schools; Judy Rush, director of curriculum of Pittsfield Public Schools; Peter Taylor, president of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; Jay White, executive director of Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School; and Bill Wright, artist and Blue Q employee.
"As a former teacher, as someone who deeply understands the important role of museums in educating people young and old, Jeff brings to the Berkshire Museum valuable skills, experience and vision," McCandless said. "All our learners will benefit."
Boyd added that the museum "must continue to be a vital part of our cultural community."
"Jeff understands how critical it is to connect art, science, and history in order to increase the meaning and understanding of all of these important disciplines," she said.
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