SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s Telfair Museums start the new year under new direction.
Hired several weeks before arriving in Savannah, the new executive director and CEO of the Telfair Museums could hardly wait to start his job.
So, he didn’t.
“I really started digging into Telfair just because I was so excited and started reaching out to trustees and getting to know the people who make this place happen,” said Benjamin Simons.
Benjamin Simons has been at here for two weeks, but he brought with him an appreciation and excitement for the collection of museums he now overseas.
“I love the combination of art and history, that speaks to my background. And I think that it speaks to the whole human experience. So, there’s a broader appeal to the stories Telfair is presenting.”
He has already found things to like about all three Telfair properties.
The Telfair Academy..
“The earliest museum in the South and one of America’s first museums.”
The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters...
“You go into that space and you have time to reflect, you have time to honor the people who lived there enslaved.”
And the Jepson Center...
“I love that combination of honoring the past, really presenting it, sharing it with the public, but also really being connected with contemporary artists, with local artists.”
And after 20 years in museum management, including a stint at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, he has some ideas on how to move the Telfair forward.
“I think the Telfair Academy needs some fresh thinking. It needs a strategic plan to develop engaging ideas for audiences there. I want to look at bringing in major exhibitions, curating major exhibitions here that Telfair organizes, partnering with other regional and national museums on programs and exhibitions as well.”
But so far, he mostly has been embracing the opportunity presented him at the Telfair and in Savannah.
“I love everything about it, the city, it’s such a gorgeous city, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever lived in. I love the layering of history and culture and art, that’s really what the Telfair excels at. You’ve got three centuries of art, history and architecture. so. you’re addressing the full human experience at all those sites, different aspects of it. But there really is something for everyone to enjoy and to be provoked by, to go on an imaginative journey. There’s something for all interest areas, all ages I would argue.”
Simons is around art when he leaves work too. His wife is an accomplished artist with galleries on both coasts.