The History Museum on the Square. (Photo by Dean Curtis)

The History Museum on the Square has hired Sean FitzGibbons, 39, as its new executive director. His first day was Tuesday, Sept. 6.

FitzGibbons had been the curator/facility coordinator of the Schmidt Art Center at Southwestern Illinois College, a community college in Belleville, Ill.

He and his family have moved to the Ozarks from Wildwood, a suburb of St. Louis. His wife, psychologist Amber Martien FitzGibbons, grew up and went to high school in Ozark. FitzGibbons grew up in San Antonio. They have two children: Maggie, 9, and Elliott, 6.

He’s familiar with the Ozarks

“I have been coming to Springfield for about 20 years,” FitzGibbons told the Springfield Daily Citizen on Tuesday. “I love the 417.”

Sean FitzGibbons (Photo: Submitted by museum)

According to a museum press release, FitzGibbons has more than ten years of experience as a leader in museums and non-profit institutions.

He was the senior exhibits analyst for the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts and Culture. He led community programs and managed the Centro de Artes and Culture Commons art galleries. 

When asked if he spoke Spanish, he said, “Un poquito,” which means just “a little bit.”

STORY CONTINUES BELOW


“When you grow up in San Antonio, you pick up some of the language,” he said.

He has a master’s degree from Wash U

He has also served as executive director for both the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s degree in fine arts from Washington University in St. Louis.

“My goal is to get to know the community and put together upcoming programs, celebrating what it means to tell the stories of the whole Springfield area and the Ozarks,” he says.

“I love the storytelling of history — not just the hard data, the dates,” he says. “I love stories of the people and of the region. When I was at the University of Texas, I fell in love with the stories behind all the history lessons.”

The museum’s board of trustees conducted a national search before hiring FitzGibbons.

He succeeds Charlotte McCoy, interim executive director. McCoy assumed the role in July after the resignation of Katie Turer.

Predecessor left after 4 months on the job

Turer joined the museum staff in 2019 and was named executive director on March 1 of this year. She resigned after only four months to relocate to Lexington, Kentucky, where her husband had found a new position.

McCoy will return to her prior role as the museum’s business manager.

Long-time executive director John Sellars, who started with the museum in 2005, stepped away from day-to-day administrative duties on March 1. He added “emeritus” to his title and continues to do outreach programs for the museum.

Board prez likes his experience, creativity

“The search committee was impressed with his experience managing museums and his creativity,” noted Mary Haseltine McQueary, president of the museum’s board of trustees, in the press release.

“Sean’s broad background in the arts and history education and his understanding of the importance of sharing stories is the perfect match for our mission,” McQueary said in the press release. “Sean will guide our team as they create exciting historical exhibits and partner with Downtown Springfield and beyond from the historic Route 66 corridor.”

In the press release, FitzGibbons said:

One goal is to have more return visits

“I see incredible potential for programming and community outreach, and I am very excited about working with the museum team as we plan innovative ways to engage the public and tell the varied stories of the region.” 

He told the Springfield Daily Citizen Tuesday that one goal is to have more people make return visits to the museum.

The History Museum on the Square was founded in 1976. For more information, visit historymuseumonthesquare.org.   

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin