Director of education at High Museum of Art in Atlanta hired as new executive director of Sarasota Art Museum

Virginia Shearer once worked at Ringling Museum of Art

Virginia Shearer. Image courtesy Ringling College of Art and Design

Virginia Shearer, director of education at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, will be joining the Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design as executive director beginning Aug. 30, the Ringling College of Art and Design has announced.

Since joining the High Museum in 2005, Shearer “has initiated, led, and participated in cross-institutional initiatives that have proven integral to the Museum’s future,” including projects such as the Greene Family Learning Gallery and a series of popular exhibitions, a news release notes.

She previously served as the Tampa Museum of Art’s deputy director for education and public programs, and as the director of education at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, the release points out.

Shearer holds a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from Florida State University and a Master of Arts in teaching in museum education from The George Washington University, the release says. In 2012, she was selected to be a participant in the Getty Leadership Institute program Museum Leaders: The Next Generation, as well as the Getty’s Executive Education Program for Museum Leaders in 2014, and she returned to the program as a mentor in 2016, the release adds.

Her hiring followed “a comprehensive and extensive search,” Ringling College of Art and Design President Larry R. Thompson said in the release.

“Virginia has over two decades of museum education experience at the highest levels,” Thompson added in the release. “She has built her excellent reputation as a leader in the museum field by developing a solid track record in creating experimental, collaborative, and research-based platforms for engagement that will serve the Museum and our community well. We are especially excited to work with her and explore expanding even further the reach and excellence of the Museum through partnerships, inclusivity, and access,” Thompson noted in the release. “As a result, the Museum will be able to continue to meet its mission of ‘providing appreciation and understanding of the art of our time through the education and cultivation of discerning visual thinkers and ethical citizens,’” he added.

“I’m very excited to return to a community that is near and dear to my heart and for the opportunity to lead the Sarasota Art Museum into the future,” said Shearer in the release.

This is the Marcy and Michael Klein Plaza at the Sarasota Art Museum. Photo by Ryan Gamma on the museum website

“Virginia has been such an instrumental part of the High’s success that her presence will be greatly missed,” noted Rand Suffolk, director of the High Museum of Art, in the release. “Nonetheless,” he continued, “we’re thrilled for her. We’re also excited to watch her impact the field more broadly in her new role as director.”

Thompson also pointed out in the release, “During this period of transition, I want to express on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Ringling College, the Board’s Museum Advisory Committee, the Museum Founders, the staff of the Museum, and our community our gratitude to Stacey Corley and David Samec for their tireless efforts in leading the Museum as interim co-Executive Directors through this past spring and summer. We appreciate the time, dedication, and resourcefulness with which they’ve managed the Museum through this interim period.”