The Academy Art Museum announces that its Director, Benjamin T. Simons, has been appointed Director and CEO of The Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia. This appointment represents a significant step for Simons and a recognition of his remarkable achievements during his four-year tenure at the Academy Art Museum. The Museum’s Board of Trustees is grateful to him for his critical contributions to the Museum’s stability and future direction and wishes him success in his new role, which will officially commence January 2021.
Simons’ achievements as Director of the Academy Art Museum included restarting and completing the Capital Campaign, which provided support for a number of Museum educational and curatorial programs, and funded the construction of the new Museum entrance and renovated interior galleries. He also led the successful effort to achieve the Museum’s reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 2018, to celebrate the Museum’s 60th anniversary that year, and to deliver a program of nationally significant art exhibitions and acquisitions for the Museum’s Permanent Collection.
The Museum’s new courtyard, vestibule entrance and renovated interior spaces opened to the public on August 1, 2020. Simons managed a successful construction project that navigated keeping the Museum open for classes during renovations. Once the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, Simons led an innovative and well-received pivot to virtual programming directed to all parts of the Museum’s offerings.
Academy Art Museum Board Chair Cathy McCoy stated, “The Museum Board is grateful to Ben for the tireless effort, boundless enthusiasm, comprehensive knowledge and constant creativity he has brought to his directorship. Every facet of the Museum’s programming for our community has benefited from Ben’s talents. We thank Ben for his dedication and leadership and wish him the very best in his position in Savannah.”
Director Simons added: “I am deeply grateful to Cathy and the entire Board for their critical guidance and support over the last four years. I also thank the remarkably talented staff for their resilience and imagination during the challenges of COVID-19. I am especially pleased to leave the institution in a solid financial position, with a committed professional staff and terrific board leadership.”
The Telfair Museums are made up of three unique buildings: the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters (National Historic Landmark sites), and the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts. According to its mission statement, “The Telfair Museums offer compelling expressions of visual culture—embracing three unique buildings and three distinct collections that bridge three centuries of art and architecture. The museum develops awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and serves as a dynamic cultural center connecting people of all ages and backgrounds.”
The Academy Art Museum will commence a search for a new Director who can build upon Simons’ achievements and lead the Museum into the next decade. Simons will continue in his current role until December 2020.