Mattatuck Museum Celebrates Director’s 10th Anniversary

WATERBURY – The Mattatuck Museum is celebrating Bob Burns’ 10th anniversary as museum director.

“Under Burns’ leadership, the Mattatuck Museum has been reinvigorated and transformed into a cultural destination, becoming an economic engine and lifeblood of the city,” the members said in a statement. “He renewed his commitment to partnerships and community engagement, and worked to ensure that the Museum is a place where everyone feels welcome and represented.”

Burns joined the Mattatuck Museum in 2012 and quickly became immersed in the Waterbury community, members say.


Among his volunteer activities, he is a member of the board of directors of W3R/The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association Inc. and of the board of directors of the Western Connecticut Tourism District. He is vice-chairman of the Mayor’s Art Advisory Council for the City of Waterbury, vice-chairman of Main Street Waterbury and a member of the board of the Waterbury Development Corporation. Burns also serves in an advisory role to the post-graduate Master of Public Administration program, the Interdisciplinary Arts program at Shippensburg University (PA), the Naugatuck Valley Community College Regional Advisory Board, and the Community Investment Program. of Waterbury.

He has also served as a juror for group exhibits at Connecticut museums and organizations and was identified as one of “Litchfield County’s 50 Most Influential People” by Litchfield Magazine in 2014. He was awarded the Main Street Waterbury Community Partnership Award 2016.

Burns helped launch a three-year, $9 million construction and renovation project at the Mattatuck.

“After a series of small updates to the building, the 2017-2020 campaign transformed the museum, creating new exhibition spaces, an artist installation in the square, the reinstallation of the permanent collection and a reinterpretation of the camp Orton P., Jr. History Exhibit,” the members said. “Burns was the visionary and leader of the project, helping to secure the state’s bond funds and inspiring the board to make that vision a reality.”

He said Waterbury has always been at the heart of this project. “The goal was to literally open the museum up to our community and welcome them into their museum. Thanks to the hard work of countless people, the revitalized museum will continue to be a major social, cultural and educational draw for Waterbury town centre,” said Burns.

Along with his involvement and advocacy for downtown Waterbury, Burns more than doubled the size of staff from nine to 23, and doubled the annual operating budget to just over $2.2 million. This expansion of the museum has resulted in numerous state and national accolades, including:

The 2013 National Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for the exhibition Art for Everyone: The Federal Art Project in Connecticut, a statewide collaborative venture.

International coverage in September 2013 of the burial of Mr. Fortune, an 18th century slave whose skeletal remains had been on display at the museum from the 1940s to the 1970s. Following a thorough assessment of the forensic program of the At Quinnipiac University, the remains were honored as the only unelected person to lie in state at the Connecticut Capitol, one day before interment at Waterbury’s Riverside Cemetery.

In 2014, the Museum was a finalist for the Institute of Museum and Library Service’s National Medal, the highest national honor given to museums and libraries. He recognized the Mattatuck for its long relationship with Waterbury Public Schools, its 20-year tradition of collecting oral histories from city residents and workers, and its community-wide collaborations.

In 2017, Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad debuted at the Museum, the first retrospective of its kind in over 40 years. In 2018, this exhibition, developed over three years by curator Dr. Cynthia Roznoy, traveled to three other museums: the Long Island Museum, the Columbia Museum of Art and the Hyde Collection.

In 2018, the Mattatuck Museum was chosen to participate in an innovative partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston to bring famous works from the Boston museum’s collection to Waterbury. One of four institutions selected from museums in New England and New York, this grant-funded initiative will span more than six years and expand with each exhibition.

Charles Monagan, Chairman of the Mattatuck Museum Board of Trustees, said, “We appreciate all that Bob has done for the Mattatuck Museum since 2012, and we look forward to the future of the museum in this dynamic new space under his leadership. .

About Bobby F. Lopez

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