The U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith on Tuesday named Ben Johnson as its new president and CEO effective Aug. 22.
Johnson brings more than 20 years of experience in museum operations to the job. He was previously vice president of museum experiences at the Putnam Museum & Science Center in Davenport, Iowa. The 120,000-SF museum draws about 120,000 visitors per year. Johnson held the position since July 2021.
Before then, Johnson spent five years as executive director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York, a 60,000-SF transportation museum that focuses on the American aviation pioneer for which it’s named. Johnson oversaw annual growth in revenue and visitors during his tenure, the Marshals Museum said in a news release.
“In conducting a national search, we were looking for a new CEO with a proven track record of achievement in museum operations,” Doug Babb, Marshals Museum board chair, said. “And that is exactly what we are getting with Ben Johnson … He understands every aspect of museum operations because he has performed nearly every position.”
In his new role, Johnson will oversee the fabrication and installation of museum displays as it moves toward an opening date next year. Babb said he expects Johnson to accelerate fundraising, as well.
“I am both excited and humbled to lead the organization honoring the brave men and women who have served our nation since 1789,” Johnson said in the release. “As sacred ground, Fort Smith is the ideal location for this world-class museum, and I look forward to sharing it with the world.”
Johnson succeeds Patrick Weeks, who resigned in March after being charged with assault. Weeks is accused of pointing a gun at two construction workers who were trying to repair a street light on his property.
The case against Weeks is still open. He had led the museum since 2016, overseeing construction of the 50,000-SF building and shaping a visitor experience focused on storytelling and historical impact.