The Arkansas Arts Center on Tuesday announced Victoria Ramirez, director of the El Paso Museum of Art, as its new executive director.
Ramirez, who also served as the deputy director of the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin Texas, succeeds Todd Herman, who resigned last year to take the job as executive director of The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In Little Rock, she will lead the museum as it undertakes a $98.8 million renovation that will add about 20,000 SF to the 108,000-SF museum in MacArthur Park.
Ramirez begins work in early October, around the time construction is expected to begin. The renovation should be done by fall 2022.
In a news release, Ramirez called the center "a jewel for Little Rock and the region."
"It is an honor and a privilege to be the new executive director during this transformative time," she said. "I am looking forward to working with the arts center's board, foundation, staff and capital campaign co-chairs Harriet and Warren Stephens to realize the vision for the new arts center and launch its next, exciting chapter."
Stephens, co-chair of the museum's capital campaign and CEO of Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, called Ramirez "an ideal choice" to lead the arts center. He and his wife are leading a $128 million fundraising campaign to pay for the renovation and provide endowment money.
"The renovation project is grand in scope and impact, and her experience and vision will be central to fulfilling the promise of the new Arkansas Arts Center," he said. "With the hiring of Dr. Ramirez, the Arts Center Board is reaffirming its commitment to the inspirational power and educational possibilities that art brings to the young people and adults in our city, state and region."
Merritt Dyke, president of the center's board of trustees, cited Ramirez's "deep experience in exhibitions, education, planning, and fundraising." He also thanked Laine Harber, the center's CFO, who has been interim director since last August.
Ramirez holds an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston; a M.A. in museum education and art history from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and a B.A. in art history from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. She is also a member of the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion in Museum Excellence for the American Alliance of Museums.
Ramirez comes to Little Rock directly from her position at the El Paso Museum of Art, a municipal museum in El Paso, Texas. While there, she oversaw museum administration, operations and programming, including a collection of more than 7,000 works, 12 annual exhibitions and an art school. Under her direction, the EPMA received a Medal of Honor from the Institution for Museum and Library Services in recognition of dynamic programming and services.
At the Bullock Texas State History Museum, she oversaw a staff of 85 and was responsible for all museum facilities, including permanent galleries, rotating exhibition spaces, two theaters, classrooms, a cafe, a store and grounds. She was also the W.T. and Louise J. Moran education director at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where she oversaw long-range planning and directed activities of the education department.
During construction, the Arkansas Arts Center has moved to a temporary location at the Riverdale Shopping Center at 2510 Cantrell Road in Little Rock.