Springfield Museum of Art names new executive director

The Springfield Museum of Art has named Jessimi Jones, a native of Bellefontaine, as its new executive director. Jones was chosen by the museum’s board of directors following a nationwide search and will begin her position in January 2020.

Jones will succeed Ann Fortescue, who was executive director for 8 ½ years, and J.D. Beiting, who has served as interim director since Fortescue’s departure in June for a job in Texas.

“I’m thrilled to be coming back to the area. Springfield has some great things going for it,” said Jones, whose most recent position was the Bernsen Director of Education and Public Programs for the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “This is a great opportunity and a fantastic museum.”

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Her 20-year career has also included working at the Columbus Museum of Art. Jones is particularly interested in education, having earned her Bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in New York.

“Education is near and dear to my heart and what attracted me to the position is the strong commitment to education and to serve the community,” Jones said. “I want to deepen that commitment.”

Besides increased educational opportunities, the museum has experienced growth in the past decade including sustained profitability and gaining Smithsonian Affiliate status. Jones wants to focus on strong partnerships and is excited to work collaboratively.

“I’m impressed by the steps the board and Ann took in the last decade in moving forward,” Jones said. “It’s a really brilliant blend of relevant and pragmatic. I’m fortunate to come in on the heels of that.”

The museum has an annual budget of $480,000.

Commenting on behalf of the museum’s board of directors, vice president and search committee chair Maureen Massaro said “Jessimi Jones is not only right for the museum, she is right for Springfield and comes to us at a perfect time. All of us were wowed, not only by her energy, her passion and her enthusiasm to expand upon the significant progress that preceded her, but also by her insatiable desire to implement an expanded vision for the future. We are thrilled to have her here.”

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Although Jones frequently visited Springfield as a Bellefontaine High School athlete, she’d never visited the Museum of Art. Upon interviewing, she was immediately taken by the accessibility and setting near Veterans Park.

This will be a homecoming not just for Jones, but her husband, who is from Columbus, and a chance to raise their 20-month-old child here.

“As an opportunity, I couldn’t be more thrilled about working with this community,” she said. “We still consider it home.”

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