Executive Director Charles A. Guerin to retire from Biggs Museum of American Art

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Executive Director Charles A. Guerin to retire from Biggs Museum of American Art
Over his career, Guerin, has specialized in directing institutional change and growth.

DOVER, DE.- Executive Director, Charles A. Guerin, is set to retire effective June 30, 2022. Guerin’s successor will be announced at a later date.

Guerin has served as Executive Director of the Biggs since April 2015. Prior to that, Guerin was the Executive Director of The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York. Guerin has been the Director of the University of Wyoming Art Museum; the University of Arizona Museum of Art; the Center for Creative Photography; and the Archive of Visual Art. A professional in the field since 1978, Guerin also served as the Curator of Art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Over his career, Guerin, has specialized in directing institutional change and growth. In that capacity he planned for, built and/or renovated seven institutions across the United States. Guerin Design Group was the contractor of record for the Fort Carson Museum of the Army in the West and the United States Figure Skating Association Museum. As Executive Director of the University of Wyoming Art Museum, he orchestrated the design development, and construction of the internationally acclaimed art museum at the University which was designed by Antoine Predock.

During Guerin’s tenure as Executive Director of the Biggs, he led the Museum to new heights and enabled significant changes. Guerin credits an enthusiastic Board of Directors, his hand-picked staff, and the State of Delaware as visionary collaborative partners to the Biggs’ achievements. As Guerin related, “When I arrived, the Board of Directors and I had a wish list for the museum’s future. Together we grew the operational budget and expanded the professional staff from four to ten. The addition of new staff allowed us to establish a vigorous exhibition program featuring artists such as Rembrandt, Ansel Adams, John J. Audubon, Christo, Dali and Freda Kahlo. Dozens of important new objects were added to the collection. We initiated a major expansion project and achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Our accomplishments over the past seven years have managed to position the Biggs for greater service to our diverse community and the region.”

When Guerin stepped into the position of Executive Director, it was clear that the Biggs Museum was blessed with an incredible wealth of objects in its collection. However, to achieve its true place among regional museums, it needed additional space for display galleries, receptions, and meeting rooms. With an eye to the future, Guerin and the Board negotiated with the State of Delaware for the acquisition of two buildings adjacent to the current location of the museum: the Kirk and Short Buildings at 15 and 21 The Green. These buildings will provide the Biggs Museum an expansive presence on Dover’s historic Green. Plans are underway to connect the three structures to create a cohesive functioning center of creativity for the public to enjoy the visual arts. “Incorporating two historic structures into the footprint of the Biggs will not only allow us to expand our viewing galleries for collections and special exhibitions, but also will provide additional areas for education, public programs, and storage of the permanent collection. The age of the buildings, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places, is a plus as so much of the collection of the Biggs is concentrated on historic furniture, decorative arts, and early American paintings.” Guerin explained. “We must also look to the future to provide public spaces that embrace the diversity of our community.”

Due to Guerin’s efforts, in combination with the Board of Directors and the staff, becoming an accredited member of AAM presents the Biggs with new programmatic opportunities previously outside its reach. Accreditation by AAM is the museum field’s mark of distinction and informs the public and lending institutions that the museum is committed to operating ethically, in accordance with field-wide standards of excellence and professional practices. The Biggs is the third museum that Guerin has led to accreditation. As a former AAM accreditation advisor, Guerin’s knowledge of the lengthy process and high standards required, proved an asset during the accreditation period for the Biggs. “Of all that was achieved during my time at the Biggs, perhaps the most significant for the institution is accreditation,” Guerin said. “To place it in perspective, of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, only 1,084 are accredited. Dover can be proud to say that their art museum is one of those chosen few.”

“I have been honored to be at the helm of the Biggs at such a pivotal time.” Guerin continued. “The Board has been incredibly supportive of all our efforts, and I have made some great lifelong friends. While I will miss the people at the Biggs, retirement comes to us all in time. At this juncture the institution is poised for a new director to step up to lead it into its future, and for me to engage the museum field in new and creative ways.”

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