The following is an announcement from the Wisconsin Historical Society:
The Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators has appointed Ellsworth H. Brown of Pittsburgh as the Society's 13th director, according to an announcement by Society President Patricia A. Boge. Brown, 61, will assume his new duties on July 1.
Ellsworth H. Brown will be the new director of the Wisconsin Historical Society. He comes to the Society after serving as president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh since March 1993. Previously, he served as president and director of the Chicago Historical Society from 1981 to 1993.
"Ellsworth Brown will take the helm of the Society at a critical juncture in its history," said Boge. "The Board of Curators sought an exceptional individual capable of leading the Society through tumultuous times — someone who, in addition to a historian's acumen, possesses talent and extensive experience in the highly competitive world of fund raising."
The Society, which has suffered budget cuts totaling more than $4.1 million and lost 34 positions over the last three years, offers essential library and educational services as well as museum and heritage tourism attractions throughout the state, said Bob Thomasgard. He acknowledged the challenge of providing these services with a staff that is at its lowest level since the early 1970s. Serving as acting director since the position was vacated in 2002, Thomasgard will return to his previous position of associate director upon Brown's arrival.
"As do all historians who make a career out of the study and interpretation of American history, I have long recognized that the Wisconsin Historical Society stands at the vanguard of institutions dedicated to the preservation of the American past," Brown says. "I welcome the opportunity, and the challenges that go hand in hand with it, to lead one of the finest institutions of its kind."
Brown holds a doctorate in American and Canadian history from Michigan State University. During a distinguished career, he has been affiliated with numerous professional historical associations and organizations in an advisory or management capacity, including the Smithsonian Institution; J. Paul Getty Trust; American Association for State and Local History; and American Association of Museums, of which he is a past president.
Brown's past experience as director of the Tennessee State Museum and of a county museum further qualifies him to lead an organization that has relationships with, and provides services to, local historical societies throughout Wisconsin.
Brown's appointment as director of the Society concludes an intensive, national search. He will receive a state salary of $133,327. Brown will be paid an additional $62,000 annually under a contract with the Wisconsin Historical Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting the Society and its mission since 1954. That compensation will be for fund-raising responsibilities beyond those of the Society.
"Part of the process for seeking a uniquely qualified person to take the reins of the Society at a critical time in its history meant putting together a salary-and-benefit package that is competitive with organizations of a stature similar to that of the Wisconsin Historical Society," said Society President-Elect Mark Gajewski. "We are fortunate to have been able to have the support of the Wisconsin Historical Foundation in recruiting a person of Ellsworth Brown's caliber," he said.