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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Announces Recent Hires

BENTONVILLE, AR.- As foundations are poured and walls erected at the construction site for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the museum’s staff continues to grow in preparation for opening the museum to the public.

“We have added 11 new positions in 2009, making our current number 36,” said Rhonda Houser, the museum’s human resources manager. “We expect to double in size in 2010, and ultimately plan to have a staff of about 100 in place.”
In addition to new director Don Bacigalupi, announced last month, the museum has filled the following key positions in the last six months:

Ron Williams, the museum’s director of information technology, specializes in operational management and technology systems. He designs and builds systems to support the next generation of interactive museum exhibits using video, digital imaging, streaming media, broadcasting, video conferencing, wireless and web technologies. He comes to Crystal Bridges from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was responsible for leading the design and implementation of the museum industry's first Internet protocol phone system, total Wi-Fi accessible building and fiber optic network using Cisco's Architecture of Voice, Video and Integrated Data platform. His background also includes work in security management and operations. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in theology and management (summa cum laude) from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala. and a master's of public administration dual degree in personnel administration and management information systems from Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky. Williams also is a certified Project Management Professional.

Manuela Well-Off-Man brings more than seven years of curatorial experience to her new position as assistant curator. Most recently the curator of art at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana in Missoula, she also has served as independent curator at the H. Earl Clack Museum in Havre, Mont. and the Westphalian State Museum of Natural History in Munster, Germany. Well-Off-Man has organized more than 40 exhibitions, among them Indian Reality Today – Contemporary Indian Art of North America, a traveling exhibition that was viewed by more than 350,000 visitors in her native Germany. She has published five exhibition catalogs on American art, scholarly articles in art journals and numerous catalog and exhibition essays. Well-Off-Man earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Heidelberg, a master’s degree in art history from the University of Cologne and a doctoral degree in art history from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany.

Other recent hires include the following:

• Kendall Curlee is the museum’s manager of communications. Most recently the director of communications at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, Curlee also has worked as an assistant curator, arts writer, illustrations editor, freelance reporter and publicist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in the Plan II honors liberal arts program and a master’s degree in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.

• Jennifer De Martino accrued ten years of experience as a legal secretary before taking her new position as collections management specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo. and a master’s degree in museum studies from San Francisco State University. De Martino serves on the board of the Tontitown Historical Museum.

• As the museum artist educator for Crystal Bridges’ communities programs, Amon Easley will interact off-site with many groups representing a broad range of ages and abilities as well as the diverse cultures found within the region. Easley has taught art to elementary, junior high and high school students in Forrest City, Ark, and Little Rock, Ark. She holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Centre College in Danville, Ky., and an associate degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Her professional portfolio includes painting, sculpture and blown glass and extensive experience with numerous craft traditions.

• Prior to becoming Crystal Bridges’ human resources manager, Rhonda Houser served as director, owner, and vice president of administration for two regional staffing companies. She also worked for the University of Arkansas as the director of employment and classification/compensation. Houser currently serves as president of the executive board of the Northwest Arkansas Human Resources Association and teaches part-time at the University of Arkansas. Houser earned two degrees from the University of Arkansas: a bachelor of science degree in business administration, majoring in personnel management, and a master’s in educational administration in secondary education.

In the last two months Crystal Bridges also has promoted personnel from within. Elizabeth Weinman, originally hired as the museum’s collections management assistant in 2008, has been promoted from assistant registrar to registrar. Kristen Cobbs, who was the museum’s part-time communications writer/web coordinator, is now the information technology coordinator. Kristin Holland was promoted from part-time receptionist to administrative assistant for the museum’s finance and operations team.

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