A rice paper weaving by Amy Loewan, as shown in a past exhibit at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. (Advocate file photo)

A rice paper weaving by Amy Loewan, as shown in a past exhibit at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer museum loses director, starts innovative leadership process

‘This is an opportunity for us to see how the organization needs to change’

The Red Deer museum’s top position is vacant, less than a year after someone was hired for the job.

Scott Marsden, who has a Ph.D. in art education, was brought in last September to replace former executive director Lorna Johnson upon her retirement. But Marsden is no longer at the museum, as of last week.

“It wasn’t a good fit,” said Shelley Odishaw, president of the Red Deer and District Museum Society on Wednesday.

Instead of immediately launching a search for another executive director, the museum’s board members are looking for a new vision of how that position could be filled.

A tight team of four women has been handing some administrative and operational roles at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery for many years “and we want to see what they can do,” said Odishaw.

Perhaps the executive director’s job could eventually be shared as a co-position by a couple or more of the museum staff, she added. “We are waiting to see how things shake out. Over the course of the summer we will figure it out.”

Odishaw feels there’s no point “in doing everything the same way we have always done,” going forward. “It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me when somebody says that…

“This is an opportunity for us to step back and see how the organization needs to change,” she explained. “We are giving ourselves the flexibility and space to see how things play out.”

The museum’s staff and volunteers are already planning special exhibits and activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Red Deer and District Museum Society. It was founded in 1972 at the instigation of the late Molly Banister, to work towards eventually opening a museum in the city.

The brown brick museum was constructed in 1978 after Banister, chair of the fundraising drive, brought in $206,000 in five months towards construction costs.

In September, an exhibition of 50 years of museum artifacts will be exhibited.

Meanwhile, Odishaw would love to hear from more community members who are interested in helping plan other 50th anniversary celebrations and activities at the museum for 2023.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery