LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU AND LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNOUNCE NEW MUSEUM DIRECTOR -- 03/15/2006
Office of State MuseumFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2006
LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU AND LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANNOUNCE NEW MUSEUM DIRECTOR
National search results in selection of seasoned museum professional
After a national search for a new director, the Louisiana State Museum announced that David M. Kahn has been appointed to fill the position. Kahn is currently Executive Director of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum in Hartford. He will serve as the Director of the Louisiana State Museum's statewide network and as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of State Museum under the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Kahn will assume his new post on or before May 15.
"Today's selection of David M. Kahn brings full circle my pledge to find the best director in the country to lead the Louisiana State Museum system," said Lt. Governor Landrieu, who oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the parent agency of the Louisiana State Museum. "When I became Lieutenant Governor two years ago, I promised to position the State Museum to become a world-class system that would attract national and international visitors and serve as a place that showcases the rich and authentic history of Louisiana citizens. In order to accomplish this, the State Museum must have a leader that understands the value of positive messages about our state's cultural assets and the importance of community involvement in the management of its priceless historical institutions. Our search process, which included a national search firm and a blue ribbon selection committee, yielded David Kahn. I couldn't be more pleased with his selection."
Angèle Davis, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism worked with the Board of Directors and the Blue Ribbon Search Committee during the national search. Davis was extremely complimentary about the process and the selection of Kahn as the Director of the Museum, stating, "This year celebrates the Centennial of the Louisiana State Museum and this celebration has become so much more meaningful in the wake of the hurricanes, when many of our historic and cultural assets were at risk. David is the perfect choice, because he understands the importance of preserving these assets as well as defining a plan to increase the visibility and further develop the role of the state museum system as a player in Louisiana's cultural economy."
Kahn will lead the Louisiana State Museum in its work through the Louisiana Rebirth plan initiated by Lieutenant Governor Landrieu. The plan calls for four major results in the rebuilding of the state including: rebuilding Louisiana to worldwide preeminence as a top tourism destination and making Louisiana's Cultural Economy the engine of economic and social rebirth for the state.
Projects that Kahn will undertake include creating a master plan for museum exhibitions and programs. Developing an exhibition about Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the state will be a top priority as will the reinstallation of displays at the Old U.S. Mint, which suffered damage during the storm. Traveling exhibitions will also be expanded. Other plans include increasing the museum's audiences and developing a strategic plan for fund development and revenue enhancement in a post-Katrina economy.
"Louisiana is obviously one of the most culturally distinctive, and beautiful, regions of our great country. I am really looking forward to working with the Louisiana State Museum's staff and its stakeholders to present the stories of the state and its people in new and exciting ways," Kahn said. "I believe that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the Louisiana State Museum has the opportunity to play a very special role in the recovery process. Its exhibitions and programs can help remind the state's people of who they are, what's unique about their way of life, and help them understand that they can and will overcome adversity now just as their predecessors have repeatedly done in the past. I am honored to have been selected to lead the Louisiana State Museum at this critical moment in the state's history."
As the director of the Louisiana State Museum, Kahn will oversee: the Cabildo, Arsenal, Presbytere, 1850 House, Madame John's Legacy and the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans; the Louisiana State Museum - Baton Rouge, which opened to the public on February 1, 2006; the Old Courthouse Museum in Natchitoches; the E.D. White Historic Site in Thibodaux and the new Louisiana State Museum - Patterson (formerly known as the Wedell-Williams Memorial Aviation Museum).
Kahn joined the staff of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum in 1996. The institution was founded in 1825 and is one of the oldest historical organizations in the country. During his tenure there, the museum's audience, budget, and staff size have all grown substantially. He has overseen the development of interactive exhibitions and has also initiated major collection-related cataloging and conservation projects. Under Kahn's leadership, in 2003 his organization assumed responsibility for Connecticut's Old State House, which was built in 1796. A new multi-million-dollar exhibition will open there later this year. Prior to joining the Connecticut Historical Society Museum, from 1982 to 1996 Kahn served as the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Historical Society in New York. He is a frequent speaker at international history museum conferences - having most recently made presentations in Amsterdam and Sao Paolo. He also regularly serves on grant review panels for organizations ranging from the National Endowment for the Humanities to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Kahn is currently a member of editorial board of Curator magazine and the Visiting Committee of the Maryland Historical Society.
Kahn received his M.A. in art history from Columbia University and a B.A. Magna cum Laude from Columbia College. He did additional graduate work in art history at Harvard University. Originally from New York City, Kahn has been a regular visitor to New Orleans for twenty-five years.
The Louisiana State Museum is part of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which is overseen by Lieutenant Governor Mitchell J. Landrieu. The State Museum network includes six museums in New Orleans and sites in Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, Patterson and Thibodaux. For details on sites, exhibitions and events, visit http://lsm.crt.state.la.us.