Sarah Hall Selected to Lead the Museum of Fine Arts – Washington County in Hagerstown, MD
FOR RELEASE AS OF
May 29, 2020
Lee E. Stine, Jr., President, Board of Trustees
Phone: 301 730-7677
Hagerstown, MD – The Museum of Fine Arts-Washington County is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Hall as its new Director. Chosen after a nationwide search, Ms. Hall will assume her new duties on July 20, 2020.
Hall brings three decades of experience to the Museum of Fine Arts, including 25 years at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh, PA., where she currently serves as the Chief Curator and Director of Collections. In her time at the Frick Pittsburgh, Hall proved herself in all aspects of museum life. Elizabeth Barker, the current executive director of the Frick Pittsburgh noted “Sarah is that rarest of museum professionals—an endlessly creative curator who is also an inspiring and effective administrator. All of us at the Frick wish her continued success in her exciting new role at the MFA-WC”.
Hall has been a member of the museum’s executive leadership team for the past decade, and in that capacity, she participated in the Frick’s $15-million capital campaign in 2015 and played a key role in designing the new visitor center and collection storage. She has been instrumental in raising the profile of the Frick’s exhibitions and in revamping its education and interpretation programs to attract new and more diverse audiences, staging “banner exhibitions” such as Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe (2016) and Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2018). She is also a successful grant-writer, collaborating with the Advancement and Engagement department on nearly $1 million in grants for the Frick Pittsburgh last year. The Frick Pittsburgh sees approximately 125,000 visitors annually, and Hall oversaw an annual curatorial budget of approximately $850,000 and supervised a department staff of five.
“One of the things that unanimously drew the Search Committee to Sarah, is her lengthy record of serving at a successful and larger museum, but which has a similar collection and history as the Museum of Fine Arts-Washington County,” said John Schnebly, Chair of the Search Committee. Lee Stine, Jr., President of the Board of Trustees, and a member of the Search Committee, added, “She knows what success looks like. Add to that, she is an able and dynamic administrator, an excellent communicator and deeply interested in growing community engagement and financial sustainability.”
Hall said she is excited to step into the top leadership role at the Museum of Fine Arts. “I have been building my career towards this moment, where I can put my skillsets, experience and passion to work to help shape the future of a museum. It is remarkable to have a museum of this caliber in Western Maryland. I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the museum, along with the staff and Board of Trustees, in its next chapter. I’m impressed by the role of the MFA-WC in the community and its history of serving the region with powerful arts programming, including its 89-year-tradition of providing free art-education classes.” -
At the Frick Pittsburgh, In addition to the active temporary exhibition program, Hall oversaw collections of early Renaissance panel paintings, 18th-century French fine and decorative art, and 19th-century European paintings and decorative arts, many of which represent the early collecting of Henry Clay Frick and are housed at the Frick family home, Clayton, a historic house museum, also part of Hall’s responsibilities. The diverse collections at The Frick also include historic cars and carriages. She also regularly works with contemporary artists and has played a big role in the museum’s significant collaborative projects with living artists , as well as in bringing popular fashion exhibitions to Pittsburgh.
Hall calls herself “a museum evangelist.” Her father was a museum director, and she knew early on that she too wanted to work in museums. She came to curating through graduate studies at the University at Buffalo in film history, media studies, and creative writing. She has also done recent graduate work in nonprofit administration.
Hall will take the reins from long-term Director Rebecca Massie Lane, who announced last year that she would retire this summer. Lane will be completing a successful 12-year tenure.
The Search Committee was chaired by John L. Schnebly, former President of the Board of Trustees, and included Board of Trustees current President Lee Stine, 1st Vice President Roger Fairbourn, Secretary Sue Parker, Honorary Trustee Tom Newcomer and former trustee Kathy Poole. For the national search, MFA-WC retained Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont of Museum Search & Reference, an executive-search firm located in Manchester, New Hampshire and Boston, MA that specializes in placing museum leaders.
About the Museum of Fine Arts-Washington County
Established in 1931, the Museum of Fine Arts-Washington County has been recognized as one of the finest small museums in the United States. The Museum collects, preserves, interprets, and exhibits art of lasting quality for the citizens of Hagerstown, Washington County, and the surrounding region. The Museum features original and educational art exhibitions; lectures, concerts, films, and art classes. The Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and the collection includes some 6,800 works of art. The Museum actively collects works of art in the fields of American art, world cultures, and art of the region. Positioned at the hub of a 4-state region, incorporating western Maryland, the West Virginia panhandle, southern Pennsylvania, and northwestern Virginia, the Museum sees approximately 48,000 visitors a year. The museum is free and normally open six days a week, though it is temporarily closed due to the Governor’s COVID-19 health restrictions. The Museum will postpone its scheduled events and activities during this time. More information on programmatic plans will follow shortly, and the Museum staff looks forward to welcoming back visitors soon.