John Wetenhall, whose tenure as executive director of the Ringling Museum of Art ended abruptly in 2009, has landed a new job.
On Thursday, Wetenhall was named president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, an organization comprised of four distinctive museums.
"John immediately stood out to our committee, first on paper and then even more so in person," said Lee Foster, chair of the Carnegie Museums’ board and the man who led the search. "He has devoted his career to museums and museum management…and it’s obvious he is passionate about his work. He also appreciates the complexities and the tremendous opportunities unique to an organization with multiple parts, and he led such an organization through significant growth and expansion."
That was a reference to Wetenhall’s eight-year tenure at Ringling, during which time he implemented a $95-million master plan. Its elements included the restoration of the art museum and the Ringling mansion, the restoration of the Historic Asolo Theater and the construction of a new circus museum, visitors center and education/conservation complex.
But Wetenhall resigned abruptly in the summer of 2009, reportedly after relations soured between himself and officials at Florida State University, which operates the museum. Marshall Rousseau was appointed interim director, and a search for a permanent successor has begun again after the first round failed to produce acceptable candidates.
Founded by Andrew Carnegie 116 years ago, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh encompasses the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center and the Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1 million people annually through exhibitions, educational programs and special events.
"The Carnegie Museums’ presidency is one of the most exciting museum opportunities in North America," Wetenhall said. "Beyond the impressive collections, ambitious educational programs and academic expertise of the four internationally acclaimed museums, the potential for collaboration among the arts and sciences sets this institution apart."