Tom Gregg Chair of the Board of Trustees of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts announced today that SAMFA’S founding Director Howard Taylor will step down from his current position as President and CEO as of January 1, 2023. Howard has been the leader of the museum for the past 38 years. After a national search the museum’s Board of Trustees has selected Alex Freeman to become the museum’s new President and CEO. Alex currently serves as the Texas Association Museum’s Executive Director. Howard will continue for a year after this transition as Director of Development and President Emeritus.
Howard comments that ”I am extremely pleased that our Board engaged Alex as the individual they felt was ideally suited to sustain and help grow this very unique museum. We have gained broad recognition in the museum world for the quality of our exhibitions, programs and collections but also for the extraordinary level of community engagement and commitment to cultural diversity. I have known and admired Alex for many for his intelligence, creativity and people skills. He’s the right person for the job.”
Alex Freeman comments that “Under Howard’s leadership, the museum has experienced tremendous growth and prominence as a world-class museum that inspires the field. I’m eager to further the museum’s position in the international conversation and will bring my expertise in museum best practices, informal education, and museum technology to the museum and Concho Valley, a region revered for its high community engagement and art making.”
Alex’s background includes leading the statewide Texas Association of Museums (TAM) since 2018, serving as an international educational technology researcher at the New Media Consortium from 2012 to 2017, and serving in education and curatorial positions at the Mexic-Arte Museum, Artpace San Antonio, and Blanton Museum of Art from 2007 to 2012. He has a BFA in Painting from the University of Florida and an MA in Art Education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Howard became the Director of the museum in 1984 which opened to the public in 1985 in the
adaptively reused former Quartermaster’s Building at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. After
over a decade at this location with the rapid growth it had experienced, the museum needed a new facility. Howard led a successful campaign and the museum reopened in 1999 in an internationally recognized building opposite downtown on the Concho River.
The Museum has received numerous awards including the Institute of Museum and Library Services
National Museum Service Award in 2003 and is the only Museum to receive the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Community Service Award. The award from the AIA was the outcome of the museum’s leadership in initiating one of the most successful AIA R/RUDAT programs ever. This was for a planning process that led to over $70 million in community investment for preservation projects and the creation of cultural and business enterprises.
The museum has been deeply integrated into the community working to assist other organizations and doing extensive outreach and engagement throughout the community. The museum hosts numerous nonprofit groups within its facilities without charge as a part of its commitment to “not just being about art on the walls but art in our lives “and viewing the community as “the greatest work of art.” See the AAM Museum magazine article in the April /May 2022 issue titled “The Greatest Work of Art”. Besides its extraordinary building, the Museum continues a program of redeveloping abandoned and underused historic properties for broad community use including future plans for a skills preservation and job training center. The museum is also undertaking programs related to community redevelopment through the arts in a vast 18 County region of the Concho Valley. The museum has grown from no collections to now include one of the most outstanding collections of contemporary American ceramics,Spanish Colonial and Mexican religious art, American glassware, and contemporary and historical Texas art.
Alex Freeman comments “the challenge ahead will be to strengthen our resource base, continue to
develop properties in the community that will be used for education and economic redevelopment and to find ways to enhance and broaden the impact of our extraordinary collections. We are fortunate to have a strong and effective Board of Trustees, a dedicated and talented staff, a vast range of supporters and very significant audiences representing all aspects of our community.”
In the coming year Howard will work closely with Alex on seeking support for several significant capital and endowment projects. This endeavor will be to help complete and enhance both the museum’s resource base and facilities’ needs.
The museum is supported by generous contributions from both individuals and businesses and grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the San Angelo Cultural Affairs Council, the City of San Angelo, the San Angelo Health Foundation, the San Angelo Area Foundation the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous foundations from throughout Texas and the nation. SAMFA’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission is currently free. In order to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors, masking and social distancing are recommended inside