The Board and staff of the Berkshire Museum are pleased to announce that after a comprehensive four-month, nationwide search, Jeff Rodgers has been selected as the Berkshire Museum’s new Executive Director. Jeff will officially join the team on April 1, 2019, the exact anniversary of the Museum’s original opening in 1903.
Jeff brings deep experience in community engagement, strategic planning, and creative leadership to the Berkshire Museum. During his recent four-year tenure as Provost and Chief Operating Officer of the South Florida Museum, he established an inclusive management and organizational structure, stewarded important fundraising relationships, and built strong community partnerships, particularly with educational institutions. He is eager to get started at the Berkshire Museum, learn more about our education programs and community initiatives, and meet the many people who help make our work meaningful and essential.
The Museum looks forward to welcoming Jeff to our team and the wider Berkshire community this spring, and we hope you will, too.
Read on to learn more about our new Executive Director:
Why did you seek the position of Executive Director at the Berkshire Museum?
For me, museums are all about bringing people face to face with art, with remarkable objects, and with the ideas inherent in all. The Berkshire Museum has a remarkable collection of art, historical artifacts, and more that spans the natural world and the human experience. So, no matter your age or your interests, you are sure to find something that intrigues you, sparks your curiosity, and inspires you to think differently about the world and your place in it.
I love the eclectic nature of the Berkshire Museum. I love the way the museum is an integral part of the fabric of the community. I love the creativity of the staff and the work they’ve been doing. We’re looking at a museum that’s facing some of the challenges that museums across the country are facing now and into the future. I want to help the museum meet those challenges. A new chapter is about to be written in the history of the Berkshire Museum and I want to help write it. I see only positive outcomes.
What are those challenges facing the Berkshire Museum and other museums?
One of challenges museums face in general today is their relevancy. Taking a look at their traditional role as preservers and protectors and interpreters of objects for the public good. That role has been evolving. Museums will continue to be engaged as always, with art and culture. But museums are now getting more involved with social, educational, and economic issues in the community. Good local, regional, even national museums are hubs, culturally, socially, intellectually, educationally. Balancing all of those roles to make sure we’re doing the greatest good for our community is a welcome challenge.
How would your friends describe you?
I walk the line between introvert and extrovert expertly. I love interacting with people especially when it comes to museum things and community engagement. But I also love my alone time, when I get to think about new ideas and new ways we could be doing things. For me, that balance works. I like camping, and paddling kayaks and canoes. Every summer, I’m out to the Badlands to dig up Eocene and Oligocene fossils. And I’m an avid naked-eye astronomer.
What are you proudest to have accomplished at the South Florida Museum?
The South Florida museum is not unlike the Berkshire Museum. It’s not quite the same history but for the past 75 years the South Florida Museum has been home to a remarkable and eclectic collection, a state-of-the-art digital planetarium, and a manatee aquarium and no one quite knew how to make sense of all the stuff we had and how it all held together in one museum. I’m proud of working with our very talented and creative staff to really unify the collection, to create ways for our visitors to connect with objects to spur the exploration of how the world came to be the way it is, and how cultures came to be the way they are, and do that in a way that’s evergreen – creating new experiences and insights with every visit. We combatted the ‘been-there- done-that-ism’ to make sure that the museum experience is ever changing. We want people to grow with the museum so that as you come back you appreciate it in different ways. Imagine this museum captivating a pre-school student through school, and beyond, until they return as a great grandparent with their pre-school grandchild.
What are you looking forward to in moving to the Berkshires?
I’m looking forward to reconnecting with skiing and hiking where there are actually hills and mountains. We don’t have that in Florida. I’m looking forward to the change of seasons, something I’ve come to miss dearly. And the food. I think I have a list of about 70 must-try restaurants in the region. I am really enthused with the farm to table movement that’s there – the real connection restaurants have with agricultural community. As an astronomer, I love to connect with the night time sky. So I’m really looking forward to the Berkshires’ gorgeous dark skies and getting other people out there with me.