Leaders of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art named Steven High as the new executive director Thursday.
High, 54, has been director and CEO of Telfair Museums in Savannah, the oldest art museum in the South, since 2007. There, he focused on community participation; in 2010, the Telfair posted attendance at 180,000, the highest in the museum's history.
From 1996 to 2007, he was director and CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, where he oversaw a $24 million capital campaign.
He holds a master's degree in art history and a master's of business administration.
The Ringling is unique in the museum world in that it's an art museum, a circus museum, a performing arts venue, a botanical garden and, as part of Florida State University, a research and educational facility.
High, whose main experiences have been with art museums, said, "There are so many elements here that engage me. The Ringling has a fantastic permanent collection that is evolving into a more active contemporary art program. It is a place where we can integrate performance and dance into the visual arts. It has gorgeous grounds. I'll be focusing on building the museum's programs."
The Ringling has been without a permanent director since August 2009, when John Wetenhall resigned. Since then, Marshall Rousseau, director emeritus of the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, has been the Ringling's interim director. High takes over June 1.