Old Salem Museums and Gardens is looking for new leadership. Current president and CEO Franklin Vagnone is leaving for a position in Rhode Island.

Vagnone was an out-of-the-box choice when leaders of the tradition-bound institution chose him for the top position in 2016. Vagnone had earned a reputation as somewhat of an iconoclast after a book he co-authored — The Anarchist's Guide to Historic House Museums — reimagined the way history was presented.

Vagnone focused on an expanded and more inclusive story of the Old Salem community through such initiatives as the Hidden Town Project, which provided research into the town's early population of enslaved and free Black people.

In a release, Old Salem officials praised Vagnone's leadership for balanced budgets, pay parity and restoration of more than 20 historic properties.

Vagnone is leaving Old Salem Museums and Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) at the end of June. He's been hired as the president of the Newport Restoration Foundation in Rhode Island.

Current Old Salem chief operating officer Terry Taylor will serve as interim president. Officials are planning to form a committee to select a new leader in 2023.

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.