Director of the Monhegan Museum of Art retires

Oct 01, 2019
Courtesy of: Monhegan Museum Archives Edward Deci addresses the Monhegan Quadricentennial.

Monhegan — Edward L. Deci, the director and president of Monhegan Museum of Art & History, is retiring after 36 years in leadership roles at the museum. Oct. 1 was Deci’s last day as director, but he will continue to play a role at the museum as president of the Board of Trustees. Museum Chief Curator Jennifer Pye and Robert Stahl, associate director and director of the James Fitzgerald Legacy, will take over as co-directors of the museum.

In 1983, Deci became a trustee of Monhegan Associates, the island’s land trust, which once owned the Monhegan Museum and had an annual budget of $200. Deci was instrumental in leading the formation of the museum as a separate nonprofit organization, which later became the Monhegan Museum of Art & History. Deci was then elected as both director and president of the new museum.

Major museum achievements during Deci’s tenure include the growth of the collections to more than 35,000 objects, with 2,000 works of art, and raising more than $3.5 million toward a capital campaign goal of $8 million, launched in 2013. In 2018, the Wyeth Foundation donated $1 million as a challenge grant for the campaign.

The museum during Deci's time as director also had an attendance of more than 6,000 visitors each summer, with an annual budget that has grown to $378,000.

The new co-directors, Pye and Stahl, both have substantial experience with the museum. Pye has been with the museum for 20 years, beginning as an intern in 1999. In 2003 she was appointed curator of collections, and she was promoted to chief curator in 2015. Pye has served on boards and committees of a number of Monhegan’s associations, including its library, the sustainable community association, and the Quadricentennial Celebration Committee.

Stahl has been associate director of the Monhegan Museum of Art & History since 2008 and director of the Fitzgerald Legacy since 2004. During Stahl’s 15 years at the museum, he has managed the restoration of the Monhegan Light Tower; shepherded the Kent-Fitzgerald properties’ acceptance into the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program; co-curated this year’s Maud Briggs Knowlton exhibition and the 2015 Lamar Dodd exhibition; served as the museum’s treasurer from 2008 to 2019; and managed and edited the production of multiple exhibition and collection catalogues. He is the author of "James Fitzgerald, The Drawings and Sketches, Selections from the Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1".

Stahl will co-direct the museum with Pye through 2021, when Pye will become the director of the museum.

The Monhegan Museum of Art & History is at Monhegan Island Light Station, 12 nautical miles off the coast of Maine, and is a member of the Maine Art Museum Trail. Its mission is to steward and showcase artifacts that represent the collective values of the community. The museum is open daily from June 24 through Sept. 30, during which time the Kent/Fitzgerald Home and Studio are open two days a week and by appointment. For more information, visit monheganmuseum.org.

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