WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Board of Trustees of the National Building Museum today announced that the Museum’s longstanding president, Susan Henshaw Jones, is stepping down in January to return to New York City. The board also announced the formation of a Search Committee to find a successor to Jones.
"Susan leaves an inspiring legacy," said Carolyn Brody, chair of the National Building Museum. "Walk-in attendance has increased four-fold, our financial position is strong and the Museum has received increasing recognition in the museum world for its prestigious exhibitions. Susan will be deeply missed by the staff and board alike."
Since Jones became president in 1994, the number of exhibitions offered by the Museum has soared. The Museum now manages two full floors of exhibitions, and receives nearly 400,000 visitors a year. In the past few years, the Museum has originated several acclaimed exhibitions including On the Job: Design and the American Office and Stay Cool! Air Conditioning America. Major exhibitions currently planned include Big & Green: Towards Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century and Do It Yourself: Home Improvement in 20th Century America.
"Susan has helped propel the Museum into the major institution it has become today," said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, trustee of the National Building Museum, and practicing architect. "With her leadership came not only substantial institutional growth and change, but expanded intellectual reach. We will miss her energy and intelligence."
Under the guidance of Jones, the Museum also has significantly expanded its educational programs to become widely recognized as an important forum for discussion about the built environment. Renowned architects, critics, and scholars from across the nation and around the world, including Frank Gehry, Robert A.M. Stern, Tadao Ando, Jane Jacobs, Robert Campbell and Rem Koolhaas, have challenged and entertained audiences with lively discussions of their work and key issues of the day. Meanwhile, the Museum’s education programs for children now draw over 22,000 participants a year. Anchoring the educational and outreach program has been a world-class Web site developed by the Museum.
The Museum instituted three honorary prizes during Jones’s tenure- the Apgar Award for Excellence, The Vincent Scully Prize, and the Henry C. Turner Prize - in recognition of professional excellence in the building arts and sciences. In addition, the annual Honor Award has grown in stature, generating significant support for the Museum. The 2002 Honor Award raised nearly $1,000,000 to benefit Museum’s programs.
In response to the September 11th tragedy, the Museum organized a new series entitled Building in the Aftermath that explores the impact of the event on architecture, engineering, and urbanism. Through these highly regarded programs and exhibitions, the Museum has contributed to the public dialogue concerning the vital issues resulting from the tragedy.
"Much as a skilled architect creates a landmark building, so Susan Jones has created a landmark museum - by virtue of her vision, knowledge, persistence, and love," said the Honorable Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former U.S. Senator and an early Congressional supporter of the Museum. "The National Building Museum has become a vital and living institution that opens our eyes to the built world around us."
"It has been an honor to lead one of America’s top cultural institutions," said Jones. "America’s built environment helps define our nation. The National Building Museum has expanded and grown through the years to become a well-respected authority on the world we build ourselves. I am proud to have directed this remarkable organization."
Jones will work closely with the Board during the transition until her departure on January 31, 2003 when she will move to New York City to be with her husband, a judge with United States Court of International Trade.
"This is an exciting juncture for the museum," said Brody. "The Museum will conduct a vigorous national search for a new leader to build on Susan’s success, someone who will help set the direction and vision for the institution for the next decade."