The Reading Public Museum’s longtime Director and CEO, John Graydon Smith, has announced he is leaving his position to assume a similar role at the Museum of Science & Industry in Florida.
Since joining The Museum in October 2010, Smith has overseen a dramatic rebirth of the institution, increasing its membership, visitation, and revenue surpluses several-fold.
Even during the pandemic-impacted years of 2020 and 2021, The Museum remained generally open and viable, posting net gains in each of those years. After reopening fully last year, The Museum announced a blockbuster series of exhibitions during 2022, with Dinosaur Explorer already having welcomed several thousand visitors in its first month.
Smith is the longest-serving Director of The Museum under the Foundation’s management, which began in 1991, and the fourth longest-serving Director in The Museum’s nearly 120-year history.
“The past twelve years spent learning about and leading this institution have been both a privilege and an honor, and although I am excited about the next chapter in my professional and personal life in Florida, my time spent in Berks County will always remain with me and my family.” said Smith.
A highly-experienced volunteer committee has been assembled to work with Smith as he transitions out of his full-time position, and has engaged him in a consulting role to transition oversight of The Museum.
The transition committee includes Board member and President Emerita of Reading Area Community College Anna Weitz, Board Chair Chuck Harenza, Board Chair-Elect Heidi Masano, and Board members Seth Rosenzweig, Scott Gruber, Laurie Peer and Jerry Marcus.
The committee will assume some of the oversight and management roles left vacant following Smith’s departure. The employee team Smith assembled at The Museum is both highly skilled and highly dedicated, and the transition committee will look to them for assistance following Smith’s departure. Simultaneously, a national search for the next CEO will commence immediately, with the Board interviewing several search firms that specialize in museum leadership searches in the coming weeks.
A statement from the transition team noted “The Foundation Board thanks John for his service these past years. Through his efforts and the efforts of his internal Museum team, The Museum has achieved milestones that were considered unattainable prior to his tenure. We wish him well in his new endeavors.”
Donors and volunteers will hear from the new management team as they move forward with The Museum’s plans for 2022, including the unveiling of Real Bodies next month. Members and visitors to The Museum will likely notice no change in their experience, as this seamless and planned transition rolls out during the month of April.