The Mint Museum announced its new president and CEO Thursday morning: Todd Herman, currently executive director of Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
He’s been a curator, art historian, college professor and arts administrator. The Pennsylvania-born Herman has Southern ties, mostly from six years at Columbia Museum of Art 90 miles down Interstate 77. But the key quality in his background may be an undergraduate degree in microbiology.
“Microbiologists gather a lot of data, studying everything they can before deciding which direction to go,” Herman said Tuesday by phone. “My first task at the Mint will be to sit down with the staff, talking to them about the Mint’s potential, what issues need to be addressed, how they feel the mission is moving forward. Then I’ll do the same with board members, arts leaders and civic leaders, finding out what people outside the walls think about the Mint.
“From there, I can devise a plan to (make sure) we deliver in a way that meets the needs of as many people as we can. There aren’t any silver bullets; you can’t come in and overlay ideas about how you think things should go. It won’t happen in a month or two months or three.”
Attention to detail was one virtue that attracted the Mint’s board of directors to Herman. So was versatility. In his seven years at Arkansas Arts Center, he raised $16 million to repay debt and increase an endowment, and hired new curators to expand exhibition programs.
There he has overseen a $6.2 million budget and managed 50 full-time and 30 part-time employees and 350 volunteers. At the Mint, he will oversee a $10.1 million budget and manage 54 full-time and 23 part-time employees and 1,200 volunteers. (Before Arkansas, he spent six years as chief curator in Columbia and seven years at the Cleveland Museum of Art.)
“It became very clear how difficult it was to find someone with a curatorial background, credibility in the art world and business and management skills,” said Weston Andress, regional president of Western Carolina for PNC Bank and head of the Mint’s search committee.
“Todd’s a premium leader for a museum. He increased attendance levels (in Little Rock) by about 30 percent, oversaw a building campaign, improved the exhibition schedule and raised money. He stood head and shoulders above the crowd.” (The journal Arkansas Business, which holds an annual Business of the Year competition, named him Nonprofit Executive of the Year in March.)
Bruce LaRowe has been serving as the Mint’s interim president and CEO; he stepped into the role after the Mint announced last April that Kathleen Jameson would step down after seven years. LaRowe will remain at the helm until Herman can move to Charlotte with his partner, Harry Gerard, and their dogs, Abby and Lola. Herman expects to hit the ground running when he arrives, and the concepts most on his mind are collaboration and relevance.
“Charlotte’s a vibrant, growing city,” he said. “I want to make the Mint more a part of the overall cultural fabric. It has a lot to offer: its collection, its talent, two locations that put it right in the middle of the community. We need to bring culture to as broad an audience as possible.
“Every place I’ve been, I’ve wanted to collaborate with all the arts organizations and the non-arts organizations to broaden the reach of the mission. There are a lot of opportunities in Charlotte for the Mint to be at the table as that happens.”