Kristin Sullivan will return to lead Ward Museum

A familiar face will return to lead Salisbury University’s Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art this fall.

The Ward Foundation announced Dr. Kristin Sullivan will become the museum’s new Executive Director. Her appointment officially begins in December. Sullivan previously served as the facility’s curator from 2014 to 2015 and director of exhibitions and research in 2016. She was involved in exhibits, folklife programming, budgets, grant writing, publications, education and marketing — virtually all aspects of the museum.

“Dr. Sullivan is passionate about the museum’s collections and programs, and its relationship with SU and the community,” said Dr. Kent Kimmel, Ward Foundation chair. “We are confident that she will continue the legacy of the Ward brothers by preserving and interpreting the art forms and material culture of the Eastern Shore.”

Since 2016, Sullivan has directed the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions, part of the nonprofit Humanities Washington, based in Seattle, in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission.

She developed this new statewide folk life and traditional arts program in coordination with nonprofit, state and federal agencies; conducted extensive research and secured funds to develop programming for diverse stakeholders; and directed Humanities Washington’s grant-making program, among other duties.  

Previously, she served as assistant director and advisor for the Museum of Chincoteague Island.

She also taught at the University of Maryland at College Park and led research in cooperation with the National Park Service. Sullivan has done extensive research and published on decoy carvers and carving, wildfowling, art and tourism, the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and Assateague Island.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to the Eastern Shore, and to the Ward Foundation and Museum, at such an exciting time of growth for the museum, the city of Salisbury and Salisbury University,” said Sullivan. “I look forward to digging in soon and working with our many partners in the region to showcase and support this unique institution.”

Sullivan earned her doctorate in anthropology and Master of Applied Anthropology from UMCP, where her dissertation examined the transitioning culture of Chincoteague Island. Her bachelors is in religious studies is from North Carolina State University. She is a member of the American Anthropological Association and Society for Applied Anthropology, among other professional organizations.

Celebrating its 50th year, the Ward Foundation honors the legacy of renowned Eastern Shore decoy carvers Lem and Steve Ward and the greater tradition of wildfowl carving. The Ward Museum opened in SU’s Holloway Hall in 1975, relocating to its current location on Schumaker Pond in 1991.

With some $6.6 million in assets, including one of the world’s most prestigious collections of antique decoys and carvings, the facility hosts over 50,000 visitors annually. It is one of only 4 percent of museums in the U.S. to earn accreditation from the American Association of Museums.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Sullivan bring her extensive experience back to the Ward Museum,” said Dr. Karen Olmstead, SU interim provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. “Her experience in museum and folk life culture generally, and the Eastern Shore more specifically, will be tremendous assets to the museum and the communities it serves.”

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