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Sarasota Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009 8 years ago

Ringling Museum director resigns

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

After serving eight years as the executive director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Dr. John Wetenhall announced his resignation Tuesday morning.

Appointed in 2001 — one year after Florida legislators handed the keys to the 66-acre estate over to Florida State University — Wetenhall oversaw $150 million in restoration and construction projects during his tenure, including the addition of a 30,000-square-foot art wing, a visitor’s pavilion and the restoration of both the Historic Asolo Theater and the Cà d’Zan mansion.

Ringling board member Marshall Rosseau, who served as the executive director of the Salvador Dali Museum, in St. Petersburg, from 1991 to 2002, will fill in as executive director in the interim.  

According to Sally McRorie, dean of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance at Florida State University, which oversees the museum, no hiring timeline for a new director has been set.

“Dr. Wetenhall made extraordinary contributions to the Ringling Museum,” said McRorie. “Under his leadership, the museum doubled in size and assumed its rightful role in the national and international museum world.”

McRorie credited Wetenhall for his ability to lead effectively with scarce resources. In regard to concerns that Ringling is being affected by state budget cuts, McRorie said patrons should expect business at the museum to continue as usual.

“There have been significant budget cuts, and the Ringling Museum, like all parts of the university, has had to undergo reductions,” McRorie said. “Luckily, under Dr. Wetenhall’s leadership, it has become a very efficient operation. Through revenue earned through ticket sales and events, we’ve been able to maintain a very high-quality experience, and we expect that to continue unabated. Florida State treasures the Ringling Museum, and I assure you, we have its economic viability and smooth operation at heart.”

Ringling is only two months away from its first International Arts Festival, a five-day celebration devoted to musical, visual and performing arts running Oct. 7 through Oct. 11, on the museum grounds. According to Pamela Fendt, chief of marketing and communications at the museum, all festivities are scheduled as planned.

Said Fendt: “John will certainly be missed here, but we have a great structure in place, and we’re moving forward with plans.”

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected].


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