Taubman Museum Gets New Director

Roanoke, VA - A new Executive director for the Taubman Museum of Art was named Monday.

The museum's Board of Directors didn't look far or very hard when deciding on who would be best qualified to run the struggling museum.

Della Watkins got the job after her current stint as Chief Educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

"She is the original Energizer Bunny. She knows art. She knows how to energize and engage people in art and the community is going to love her," said board member Haywood Fralin.

Watkins will have a lot to accomplish.

The museum continues to find its place in the community, which is the number one priority for Watkins when her tenure begins in early February.

"I want people to come here and figure out how it would serve them well whether it's contemplative in the gallery; whether it's here for lunch to meet a friend; whether it's being wowed by an exhibition," said Watkins.

The announcement was paired with another announcement that shows nearly 14,000 visitors have come through museum doors since Advance Auto Parts stepped in with $150,000 last October.

The recent donation now allows all visitors to come enjoy the art for free.

Many of museum visitors are now paying it forward.

"The contribution level has been increased compared to the year previously so we're encouraged. Everything looks very, very positive," said Fralin.

That is a 30% increase in attendance over the same time last year which has this museum's new skipper champing at the bit to get into the mix and help continue the positive trend.

"I want the community to embrace us as a sort of an educational, cultural institution that they will have an experience and interact with and love and think about," said Watkins.

Watkins takes over for David Mickenburg, who resigned last fall.

Watkins says once she gets to know the community her focus will zero in on expanding marketing to a more regional audience as well as continuing to work on the museum's ability to eventually support itself.