American Alliance of Museums President Retiring

Ford W. Bell. Photo courtesy American Alliance of Museums.

Ford W. Bell, the president of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), will retire from his position on May 31, 2015. Bell began his tenure at the helm of the organization in June of 2007, just after its centennial—the AAM was founded in 1906—following years working as a veterinarian and a stint as the CEO and president of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. He had also been a trustee of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and served as a board member at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History.

“I can say unequivocally that this is the best job one could ever have,” Bell said in a statement accompanying the AAM announcement. “It has been an honor to work with and for museum professionals throughout the country. Their passion and devotion to public service are what make museums so valued by the public, and such an integral part of our communities – as pillars in the educational infrastructure, as economic engines, and as community anchors and assets.”

The AAM counts some 3,8000 institutions across the US among its members. Its mandate includes advocating for museums on relevant issues, and establishing operational standards and best practices across the industry. Under Bell’s tenure the AAM went through a major restructuring that saw its staff cut by 27 percent. He also oversaw the organization’s radical name-change in 2012, from the American Association of Museums to the American Alliance of Museums. Kaywin Feldman, the chair of the board of the AAM, will head up the committee that will search for the organization’s next president.

During the seven years since Bell got the job, he has visited more than 450 museums across 46 states, a statistic that should put even the most frequent flyers among the art world jet set to shame.

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