After having served in the position for more than 20 years, Tom Butler, Executive Director of the Columbus Museum, is retiring.
Butler announced his plans to the Museum's Board of Trustees Tuesday.
"Every cultural organization benefits from fresh vision and after serving as director for two decades, it just seemed like a good time to retire. I have been very fortunate to have worked with many fine Board leaders and wonderful staff members in my tenure, " Butler said in a news release.
Butler has agreed to the board leadership's request to remain until a successor has been selected.
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According to the release, during Butler's tenure, the Museum's permanent collection has grown from some 5,000 objects to more than 10,000, and the Museum's drawings collection is recognized nationally for its quality and scope.
There have also been many significant exhibitions designed to inspire and inform the public.
Endowment funds have grown significantly.
The revitalized Bradley-Olmstead Gardens are now a major feature of the Museum, with a newly-built entrance, visually dramatic lighting, and new plantings. The children's gallery Transformations has become a destination for families with young children, and newly-developed plans are in motion to refurbish and refresh that space. In partnership with the Muscogee County School District, the museum provides educational activities for thousands of school-age children every year.
Butler has many personal accolades and accomplishments. He received the Lifetime Professional Award from the Southeastern Museums Conference and the Georgia Museum Professional of the Year from the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries.
He served as President of the Southeastern Museums Association and is a member of the Art Museum Directors Association. "The Columbus Museum has been very fortunate to have Tom serve as director for these past two decades", board president Trip Tomlinson said in the release. "He has been a steady hand, and during his time as director, the museum as well as its permanent collection have grown and achieved national stature. We thank him for his service to the museum and the community."
The Ledger-Enquirer didn't reach Butler for comment, but Tomlinson said it was solely Butler's decision to retire.
“It is incredibly unusual for an executive director to remain at an institution for more than 20 years," Tomlinson said. "The average is six to eight at best. The museum just celebrated its 60th anniversary, so Tom has been here for one-third of its history."
Tomlinson said he will work with incoming board president Fray McCormick, who succeeds him in May, to form a search committee in the next couple of weeks. Committee members will determine whether to use a consultant and which one, then develop a description of the type of director they want, Tomlinson said.
"Our hope is to have a new executive director on or about Jan. 1, 2015," he said, "but it’s more important to find the right person.”
-- Staff writer Mark Rice contributed to this report