WASHINGTON, D.C..- Ellen MacNeile Charles, president of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, announced today the appointment of Kate Markert as executive director. Hillwoods Search Committee was assisted by Opportunity Resources Inc. of New York City in the successful completion of the search.
Currently the associate director at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Markert will succeed Frederick J. Fisher, who has led Hillwood as executive director for over 20 years and has long planned to make 2010 his final year heading up the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post in northwest DC. Markert, who will be Hillwoods second professional director since its founding in 1977, will assume leadership on August 2.
We are thrilled that Kate will be joining Hillwood at a key time in our history, said Charles, who is also Posts granddaughter, of the appointment. When we began the search for a new director, we were looking for an innovative candidate with a strong combination of leadership, communications, and fundraising experience to build on the foundation that was laid by Mrs. Post and nurtured with great success by Frederick Fisher. Looking forward with an eye to reaching broader audiences and to strengthening the institution by diversifying our income streams, Kates expertise in strategic planning and development made her stand out among the candidate pool. Markert is co-author of The Manual of Strategic Planning for Museums (Altimira Press, 2007), which has become a trusted guide book for many museum directors and boards.
I am honored to take over the leadership of Hillwood. Fred Fisher is leaving this wonderful place in a position of strength. It has a uniquely American story, superb art collections, and enchanting gardens. I am looking forward to working with its terrific staff to bring it to an even wider public and to invite greater community participation in its excellence. As executive director, Markert will lead the strategic planning process, develop initiatives to serve and engage a broader community, and advance efforts to maximize earned and contributed income to reduce the organizations reliance on the endowment. She will work closely with all areas of staff, from collections to horticulture, communications, and interpretation, to further the mission of enlightening visitors with an experience inspired by Posts passion for excellence and intent to preserve and share the beauty and history of her collections, gardens, and estate.
Marjorie Merriweather Post created her 25-acre estate, including the 26,000 square-foot mansion housing one of the nations most important collections of 18th-century Russian and French decorative arts for the benefit of the public. Today, Hillwoods exhibitions and programs introduce Posts unique collecting perspective and history of gracious hospitality to around 50,000 visitors each year. Passionate collectors create fascinating museums. Working at the Walters has given me an appreciation for the special character of these very personal collections. Mrs. Post led an exceptionally intriguing life which we can begin to glimpse in a visit to Hillwood, Markert remarked.
During seven years of leadership as associate director of The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore Markert helped steer the museums increasing engagement with the community. In 2006, the Walters and the Baltimore Museum of Art partnered with city and county governments to open wide the museum doors by eliminating general admission fees and providing new opportunities for access to the whole community. While director of the distinguished Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut from 2000 to 2003, Markert led the effort to fund an ambitious renovation and expansion program, raising some $60 million in two years. She also opened an exhibition of treasures from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris while director of the Atheneum. Markerts other significant museum positions include deputy and then acting director at the Cleveland Museum of Art and a previous tenure as director of development and communications, deputy director, and acting director at The Walters. She is an evaluation reviewer for the IMLS National Leadership Grants program and a surveyor for the American Association of Museums Museum Assessment program. She sits on the board of the Charles Street Development Corporation and Baltimores Downtown Partnership
Markert, who was born and raised in Baltimore, graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a bachelors degree in French. She holds a Master of Arts degree in art history from the University of Maryland College Park and a Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University.