PITTSFIELD — Just weeks after celebrating the reopening of its remodeled second floor, the leader of the Berkshire Museum has departed.
The museum announced Monday that Jeff Rodgers left Friday as executive director. The museum’s statement did not explain the reason for Rodgers’s exit, after roughly two and a half years, or what he plans to do next.
PITTSFIELD — After a four-month search, a new executive director has been hired to take the reins at the Berkshire Museum.
Attempts to reach Rodgers on Monday were not successful.
He reportedly used vacation time for this final two weeks working for the museum. Rodgers attended his final staff meeting by video on Sept. 2, when employees were told of his departure.
The museum said it plans a national search for a new leader. In the meantime, three employees will be in charge: Hilary Dunne Ferrone, the chief engagement officer; Craig Langlois, the chief experience officer; and Miriam Kronberg, the chief operating officer.
Rodgers joined the museum in April 2019, the first permanent executive director after Van Shields, who left after leading the effort, announced in the summer of 2017, to sell key works from its fine arts collection as a means of expanding its endowment and plug recurring deficits. That sale was unsuccessfully opposed in the courts and by the group Save the Art.
Ethan Klepetar, president of the museum’s board, said in an interview Monday that Rodgers gave notice a few weeks ago. Rodgers said he is willing to consult with the museum in the months ahead, through the transition to a new executive director, Klepetar said.
“It was his decision,” Klepetar said of Rodgers’ exit. “We fully support him. He did a really terrific job.”
In a statement Monday, Klepetar said Rodgers brought a “steady, thoughtful” approach as executive director and “set the organization on a path to a brighter future.” Klepetar said in the interview that Rodgers served the museum at a “critical” time, as it undertook major building repairs and weathered the pandemic’s impact. Rodgers took over from an interim leader hired to oversee the museum after Shields stepped down.
In his own statement, Rodgers said he believes the museum has made “tremendous progress.”
“We are financially secure, deferred maintenance issues have been addressed, and we have just celebrated the re-opening of our second-floor galleries and learning spaces after extensive renovations,” he said in the statement.
Klepetar said he was not aware of what Rodgers plans to do next professionally.
The museum fully reopened in August after roughly $3.5 million in renovations, using money from the proceeds of its controversial 2018 sale of art.
Klepetar said the museum will hire a consultant to help it search for a new permanent executive director, a process he estimated would take six months to a year.
The three officers who are part of the interim leadership may elect to become candidates. “Certainly all three of the senior staff are open to apply,” he said.
When asked to name the 39 South St., museum’s biggest challenges in the months and years ahead, Klepetar cited ongoing efforts to renew its quarters, as renovations now focus on its first floor, as well as a re-envisioning of its aquarium.
Klepetar said the museum’s leader must continue to connect with its audiences here in the Berkshires. He praised Rodgers for making new connections in the community, including with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
The next executive director, he said, must “just be that liaison with all the different people who care so much about our wonderful local museum ... and make sure all the boats are rowing in the same direction.”