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Catherine Pears Appointed Executive Director of Art Museum

Released: 10/08/2009

Catherine McCrory Pears has been appointed executive director of the Alexandria Museum of Art, announced Dr. David Manuel, LSU Alexandria chancellor. The museum is operated by and affiliated with the university and the LSUA Foundation.

Pears has been curator at the museum for nearly two years, and she has been a fine arts instructor and technical director for the university’s Empty Space Players. An accomplished free-lance artist whose works have been featured in many solo shows and juried exhibitions, murals, and more than 50 theatrical set designs and backdrops, Pears holds an undergraduate degree in graphic design from LSU and a master’s in painting from Northwestern State University. She was a co-founder of Family Playhouse and has served the non-profit children’s theatre in various leadership roles for 12 years.

“She brings a passion for the arts and the skills and energy to position the Alexandria Museum of Art as the region’s central resource for art and art education,” said Manuel. “It is vital that the museum serve as the most important venue for art and cultural appreciation in Central Louisiana, and Catherine’s leadership will make that happen.”

Pears replaces Richard Gwartney, who served as executive director in addition to his role as associate professor of theatre and communication studies. Gwartney recently resigned from the museum to concentrate on teaching and theatre productions. He will assist in a three-month museum leadership transition period.

“I am pleased and honored to be selected as executive director,” said Pears. “I look forward to working with the entire arts community as we enhance this cultural and educational venue for Central Louisiana and the university. Our immediate goal is to reopen the entire museum following the flooding this summer. We anticipate the renovation will be completed near the end of the year.”

The third floor of the museum was damaged when a sprinkler system malfunctioned. None of the building’s art collection suffered significant damage.

The museum, which was founded in 1977 and renovated in 1998, occupies the original Rapides Bank building, circa 1898. It is listed on the National Historic Register. LSUA and the LSUA Foundation have operated the museum since 2006, and the size of the permanent collection has doubled in that time.