Newly minted museum head prioritizes progress

Dr. Todd Herman took over Mint Museum in August

Difficult though it may be for a governing body to reach any decision by consensus, the Mint Museum Board of Trustees did just that when it elected to name Dr. Todd Herman the organization’s newest president and CEO this summer.

Herman assumed the role Aug. 20 following a seven-year tenure as director and CEO of Arkansas Arts Center. His stewardship of that Little Rock institution was characterized by the combination of artistic sensibility, business acumen and community engagement the Mint’s board hopes he’ll continue to bring to bear in Charlotte. Announcing his appointment in July, the museum cited Herman’s success in soliciting donations to the tune of $16 million and credited him with dramatically expanding the center’s artistic offerings. Herman, for his part, lauded the Mint’s “strong tradition of excellence in the arts” as the state’s first museum of its kind.

The takeover came at a fitting time, coinciding as it did with the grand reopening of the Mint Museum Uptown after several months of renovation. And Herman is determined to ensure that the museum’s renewal is about more than architectural updates.

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Soon after his appointment, he spoke with Charlotte Magazine about the vital need to increase diversity in every part of the art world, saying, “I think it’s important for any cultural organization to diversify from the top to the bottom.” That goes for staff (counting paid workers at both its Randolph and Uptown campuses, the Mint currently keeps nearly 80 full- and part-time employees on the books) as well as for the artists represented in a museum’s collection. “During my tenure at Arkansas Arts Center — and before me —” Herman reported, “we have been pursuing and collecting works by women and artists of color. It is extremely important. And I already have ideas for the collection in Charlotte.”

Furthermore, the president and CEO has frequently expressed a commitment to widening the influence of the organization he now leads. In a conversation with The Charlotte Observer he praised the Mint’s “two locations that put it right in the middle of the community.” He continued, “Every place I’ve been, I’ve wanted to collaborate with all the arts organizations and the non-arts organizations to broaden the reach of the mission.”

Echoing Herman’s acquisition of multiple new curators to nurture new and innovative programs back in Arkansas, the Mint testified to his taking up the mantle in Charlotte “during an exciting period of growth,” including “an ambitious schedule of both traveling and Mint-organized exhibitions for the coming fiscal year, and plans for expanded study and exhibition of fashion and ceramics at Mint Museum Randolph.”

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Those plans are already coming to fruition. As qnotes shared at the time, September saw the Randolph location host the 14th annual Mint Museum Potters Market Invitational with more artists than ever before, along with a showing of “The Gospel According to André,” a documentary on the life and work of former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley complete with a live meet-and-greet with the subject himself. Furthermore, during the Oct. 5 weekend, the Mint Museum Randolph will present the public opening of its new exclusive exhibition ‘African-Print Fashion Now!’.

Also this month, the museum follows through on Herman’s promise, delivered to the Observer’s Lawrence Toppman, to include “non-arts organizations” in its collaborative endeavors. “The Art of Fashion Fall Runway Report” represents a joint project with Southpark luxury staple Neiman Marcus — as well as an example of the innovative fundraising for which Herman was known in his previous post, with 100 percent of proceeds from the event to benefit the Mint Museum Annual Report.

That isn’t to say, though, that Herman approaches the museum’s operation with an eye only to pecuniary growth, or even its role as “a lively hub where art meets community.” Rather, his background as a curator and art historian (he holds a Ph.D. in the subject from Case Western Reserve University, where he specialized in Italian Renaissance painting) speaks to what Mint director of advancement and communications Hillary Cooper enthusiastically terms his “creative spirit” and lends him, as search committee head Weston Andress was quoted as saying in the Observer, “credibility in the art world.” Despite being a native New Englander, Herman even has experience utilizing these skills in the Carolinas, having taught university-level art history in South Carolina and served half a dozen years as chief curator at the Columbia Museum of Art.

With its new president and CEO and his partner Harry Gerard now firmly reestablished in the region, the Mint Museum has every expectation that, in Cooper’s words, “Todd will be a wonderful leader for our team and organization.”

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