The Newark Museum has hired Steven Kern as its new director and chief executive officer. He will take up his new post in February. Kern replaces Mary Sue Sweeney Price, who retired in May after 20 years in the director’s office and 40 years at the museum.
“I plan to hit the ground running and meet as many community leaders as possible, learning as much as I can in the first week,” Kern told A.i.A. in a phone interview Thursday. “The Newark Museum is an institution with an amazing history and amazing assets. My job is about finding as many ways as possible, as quickly as possible, to strengthen the museum’s image and advance it nationally.”
Kern has been executive director of the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, N.Y., since 2008. He was previously director at the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut (2006-08). He has also served as curator of European art at the San Diego Museum of Art (1997-2006); curator of paintings at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. (1988-2006); and acting director at the Museum of Fine Arts and George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield, Mass. (1983-88).
“I started out at the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield in 1978, putting myself through college as a security guard,” Kern told A.i.A., “so museums have been in my blood for a long time.”
Founded in 1909, the Newark Museum has holdings in a wide range of areas of the fine and decorative arts as well as the sciences, including a planetarium.
“Emerging from the recession, there are those who have been able to emerge intact and those who have emerged somewhat compromised,” Kern said. “It’s no secret that Newark has had challenges with funding and the drying up of public monies. It’s a matter of finding new revenue streams.”
The museum’s 990 tax filing for 2011, the most recent available, indicated revenue of $17.4 million and expenses of $17.4 million.