Make us your home page
Instagram

Meet new Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg director Kristen A. Shepherd

Kristen A. Shepherd believes the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is just great. But she believes even more that it can be greater.

Shepherd, 45, was appointed executive director in December after Kent Lydecker's retirement. She is its sixth director since the museum opened in 1965 and its first female leader. In a recent discussion about change, she spoke mostly in generalities because, she says, she's in the information-gathering phase.

"It's still early," she said. "I'm a methodical person and I'm not making any sudden decisions."

Her mandate is clear, though.

"We were looking for someone with an art and business background, and she has those," said Mark Mahaffey, president of the museum board. "She's goal oriented and knows how to execute. We're looking at external and internal operations: admissions, membership, exhibitions and the collection. Kristen has quite a bit of experience in all of those."

She's starting her tenure with news of a particularly splashy exhibit. This month, the museum announced it would be hosting "Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume," making the museum the only Florida venue for the nationally traveling show of Star Wars costumes and concept art. The show opens Nov. 11. Shepherd inherited this show, which Lydecker brought on before he retired.

She comes with an impressive pedigree. Shepherd holds bachelor's and master's degrees in art history with a specialty in pre-Raphaelite art. Early in her career, though, she chose a nonscholarly path, cutting her teeth on a big building project at Sotheby's, the prestigious auction house.

"I was offered a job as a specialist in the painting department or one as the business manager for a building project," she said. She chose the building project and, because of its success, was given others.

Shepherd became director of membership and the annual fund at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2008 and launched the award-winning Create Your Own Membership program before moving to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2013. As its associate vice president of audience strategy and services, she increased visitor revenue and membership by 19 percent.

"I want people to think of membership as a gesture of philanthropy," she said, "not just a good-value proposition. To understand the value of what membership dollars do in the community. We have a membership of about 3,600, and it should be so much more with support at whatever level." (The museum's attendance was about 124,600 in 2016.)

She's looking at all of the museum's expenditures, including its publication, the Mosaic, and the activities and events associated with the museum, how they're used and who uses them. No capital, or major building, projects are in the near future, she said.

"With our comprehensive collection, we can make connections, tell stories," she said.

Her goal is to have more people hearing them.

Meet new Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg director Kristen A. Shepherd 02/16/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 5:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco libraries offer relief from the heat with reading programs, activities

    Kids

    HOLIDAY — Angelina Ponzo has a goal this summer: to read as many books as possible.

    Alexis Ponzo, left, uses watercolor crayons to draw a heart tattoo on her daughter Angelina's arm during a recent summer reading program event at Centennial Park Library in Holiday. Local libraries are hosting reading programs and a variety of educational, entertaining and family friendly events throughout the summer months.
  2. Want to feel old? It's been 20 years since the first 'Harry Potter' was published

    Books

    He was so cute: Blond hair, blue eyes and a killer smile. He was dressed in a black robe with a fake scar on his forehead and regaling our fifth-grade class with his book report on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a 10-year-old with only the most sophisticated of tastes (give me a Baby-Sitters Club any day), …

    An auctioneer holds a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" containing annotations and illustrations by author J.K. Rowling. The tale has turned 20,  published in Britain on June 26, 1997. Since then, it has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. (Associated Press [2013])
  3. Restaurant review: Deccan Spice in Feather Sound is a gateway to the allures of Indian cuisine

    Food & Dining

    CLEARWATER

    Feather Sound's Tru Lounge, which was Flo Lounge before that, morphed into Grand Siam in 2012, a giant Thai restaurant owned by the folks who had Ban Thai restaurants in Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon and Lakeland. It was lavish with dramatic fluted chandeliers and a long, polished wood sushi bar, but it …

    Some of the selections at a recent lunch buffet at Deccan Spice included chicken biryani, gobi masala and murgh masala.
  4. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders will be your new favorite go-to

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  5. Who topped the Billboard charts 35 years ago? Paul and Stevie, of course

    Blogs

    We really did have it so much better in the early ‘80s. Just check out the Billboard top 5 songs for the week of June 26, 1982.