Credit Where Credit is Due

by Gary John Gresl

Last October, Jan Smith, Director of the Rahr-West Museum in Manitowoc Museum, left that institution to take on a new role as Director of the Bergstrom Mahler Museum in Neenah.
Over the years WP&S and some of its members have worked with Jan to create the Wisconsin Artists Biennial, as well as other exhibits in which our membership has benefited.  In addition, Jan is herself an artist and a professional member of the WP&S North East Chapter.
During her years at the Rahr-West Jan worked hard to upgrade its educational functions, improve exhibitions and community involvement, and also brought the museum to a level where it gained professional museum accreditation.  This was accomplished under conditions that might have dissuaded others, for the Rahr-West is a city government owned entity, subject to politics and public scrutiny unlike that existing in privately funded entities.  And to make her years of service there even more remarkable, she commuted each week from her home in Neenah to Manitowoc, quite a trek by anyone’s standards.
Jan returns to once familiar environs, because before taking on the Directorship at the Rahr-West, she was the curator at the Bergstrom.  Her interests in glass will also come into play, due to this emphasis and tradition established in Neenah.  WP&S wishes Jan to experience that “wind at her back” as she conducts business in Neenah.
Before leaving the Rahr-West Jan had established that WP&S would be holding its 2009 Wisconsin Artists Biennial exhibition there.   At least three previous Biennials have been held in Manitowoc, and WP&S is looking forward to working with the next Rahr-West Director.