This is my final week as the museum’s Director. When I inaugurated SAM’s blog in September of 2009, I imagined that this would become a place for demystifying the inner workings of an art museum. I hope it has served this purpose on a few occasions. My colleagues have certainly made good use of SOAP as a space for sharing their deep expertise as well as their great enthusiasm for what is happening everyday at the museum. I’d like to use this, my last SOAP contribution, as a chance to offer reflections on what has transpired at SAM recently and why I am humbled by the experience of having served as a leader here.
I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign as Director of the Seattle Art Museum effective June 30th. This was a difficult decision for me but with SAM today in a much stronger position than when I arrived, I believe the time is right for a change in leadership.
When the fiscal year ends on June 30th, we will post what might well be the most successful year in SAM’s 78-year history:
- More visitors than ever to Downtown SAM (projected to be nearly 600,000)
- Membership at an all time high (more than 48,000 household members)
- Increased levels of community engagement
- Picasso exhibition which had region-wide impact
- Stabilization of our financial situation and real estate dilemma
I am proud that SAM has achieved so much and I am confident that the institution will continue to build on this success.
I am eager for a break and for the chance to undertake my own projects. First, I aim to spend more time with my family and refresh my professional perspective. My passion for art history has been on hold while I focused on the most urgent administrative and financial challenges here. Now, I want to re-establish my personal connection with the artists, objects, and ideas that got me into museum work in the first place. My family and I have fallen in love with Seattle and we expect to remain here, so I hope to see you often.
Please know that I am grateful for having had this opportunity to serve the Seattle Art Museum and this community.
Derrick R. Cartwright
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director