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After a year of behind-the-scenes turmoil, Andy Maass decides it's time to leave the Tampa Museum of Art

Andy Maass, director of the Tampa Museum of Art for 10 years, has called it quits after a year of turmoil with some members of the museum's board. He will leave the museum Sept. 30 but continue to draw his salary until June 30, 1996, under a settlement worked out by Jonathan Alpert, a Tampa lawyer retained by Maass last month.

The last year has been "one thing after another," Maass said Thursday. "The building frustrations and the inability to resolve those frustrations have taken the pleasure out of it for me. I always said when it's not as much fun, it would be time to go."

Maass had strong support from many board members, but some, including chairman Warren Frazier, had been critical of Maass' management, citing high turnover of museum staff, disappointment with the quality of some exhibits and a 1994 budget deficit.

Frazier and another Maass critic, Bruce Samson, resigned from the board at its meeting Wednesday. Neither Frazier nor Samson could be reached for comment Thursday.

Margo Eure, who replaced Frazier as leader of the board, said Maass has "tirelessly and selflessly" given to the museum.

Indeed, the museum grew and thrived under Maass. The museum's budget rose from $888,000 to $1.5-million, and the endowment rose from $380,000 to almost $4-million. Maass also oversaw important additions to the museum's permanent art collection. Acquiring the Joseph Veach Noble collection of classical antiquities, which Maass negotiated, put the museum on the national map.

The museum also grew physically, with a 5,000-square-foot addition and a new sculpture garden. While the budget fell short in 1994, the museum is operating in the black this year.

Art Keeble, director of the arts council, said Maass brought the museum further in 10 years than Keeble thought possible. He attributed Maass' departure to changes on the museum board.

"I hate to say it, but it could be growing pains with the board," Keeble said.

The Tampa Museum of Art is operated by the city of Tampa and the volunteer board. Maass was a city department head, but his city salary was supplemented by the non-profit board.

Joe Abrahams, administrator of parks, recreation and cultural services, said the city did not seek Maass' resignation. "It's more a board direction," he said.

The city will begin a national search for a new director soon. Board members will have input into the search and interview process. The non-profit board, not the city, will pick up the tab for Maass' severance pay.

Maass said he would take some time off and then decide where to go from here.

Call Paul Wilborn with an idea for the column at 226-3346.