Steven H. Miller, executive director of the Morris Museum
in Morristown, NJ, will be retiring from the museum effective July 1, 2010. He will remain associated with the museum in an advisory capacity and is assisting with the search for a replacement.
Miller began as executive director at the Morris Museum in 2001. He has led the museum through several transformations. Upon arrival, the first order of business was to strengthen the professionalism of operations, stabilize budgets and clarify a dormant capital and endowment campaign. A vigorous schedule of popular exhibitions and programs reflected a new definition for the museum as a public teaching and learning center celebrating creativity in four disciplines: art, history, science, and theatre. (The museum includes the Bickford Theatre, a professional, Actors Equity theatre.)
The museums operational accomplishments were followed by Millers leadership in acquiring the gift of the 750-piece internationally renowned Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata. With this gift the board put in place a $12 million bond-funded expansion and renovation project. The Guinness contribution included $10 million for the state-of-the-art permanent exhibition and endowment (the largest cash donation the museum ever received). This funding was further enhanced by two unprecedented federal appropriations.
Since 2006, the increased prominence of the Morris Museum has resulted in its receiving the New Jersey State Council of the Arts Citation of Excellence award in addition to the Councils annual designation of the museum as a Major Arts Institution. In 2008 Miller himself was given the John Cotton Dana Award for excellence in museum leadership by the New Jersey Association of Museums and in 2010 he received the Honey and Maurice Axelrod Award for his initiation of museum programming about the Holocaust and genocide awareness.
Two years ago, in light of the severe economic challenges in the cultural sector, Miller strategically implemented a selection of cutbacks and budget reductions while assuring staff retention and an ambitious programming calendar. The museum successfully navigated through an unusual time in its history. In fact, attendance rose, especially for Bickford Theatre performances.
The Morris Museum traces its roots to 1913 and is one of New Jerseys oldest, largest and most active cultural institutions. Miller is its fourth professional director. He came to the post with a distinguished record of accomplishments as a director, curator, trustee and educator with leading museums in the northeast including the Bennington Museum, VT, the Maine State Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York. He is a board member of Art Pride New Jersey and Historic Deerfield, MA. Serving as an adjunct faculty member of the Seton Hall University MA Program in Museum Professions, Miller writes extensively on a range of museum subjects. He is a member of visiting committees for the accreditation program of the American Association of Museums.
Miller announced his intention to retire at the January 25, 2010 meeting of the museums board of trustees. The Morris Museum Board of Trustees has formed a search committee for the executive directors position, headed by Trustee Charles Pascarella. Notices have been placed and a full job description is on the Morris Museums website.
Announcing his retirement, Miller noted: It has been an extraordinary privilege to direct the Morris Museum. I thank the board of trustees and dedicated staff for their support and valued work in making so many positive advancements possible. The museum is clearly well-positioned to serve current and future generations in the engaging and meaningful ways for which it is so well-known.
In acknowledging Millers retirement, Board Chair Paul Laud said: We have been fortunate to have Steve leading the museum during very exciting times in its history. We wish him well in his retirement and are pleased he will continue to be an active and prominent member of our community.