SANTA FE, N.M. — Palace of the Governors and New Mexico History Museum Director Frances Levine is leaving to become the president and CEO of the Missouri History Museum.
“It’s a history that’s still directly related to what we do in New Mexico,” Levine said in a telephone interview from St. Louis on Tuesday. “It’s a museum with a bigger staff. We’re very under-resourced at the Department of Cultural Affairs.
“What’s interesting to me is, of course, the Santa Fe Trail connects us. One of the early mayors of St. Louis was one of (New Mexico’s) territorial governors.”
Levine, who will remain at the New Mexico History Museum until March 15, presided over the opening of the 96,000-square-foot museum five years ago. Since then, the institution has showcased 35 exhibitions and installations, including “Cowboys Real and Imagined,” “The St. John’s Bible,” and “Wild at Heart: Ernest Thompson Seton.” The exhibits have traveled to the Museum of Texas Tech University, the Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces, Palm Beach’s Society for the Four Arts and Albuquerque’s Jewish Historical Society. Levine was named the History Museum director in 2002 after working as the assistant dean of academic affairs for arts and sciences at Santa Fe Community College.
“It’s time,” she said. “I’ve been at the History Museum for 12 years.”
Levine has written numerous papers and books and, with Marta Weigle and Louise Stiver, edited the award-winning “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now” (2009, University of New Mexico Press).
The Missouri History Museum has been active in the St. Louis community since 1866. It offers programs and outreach services, including traveling exhibitions, tours, theatrical and musical presentations, family events, workshops and lectures.
Levine was in St. Louis on Tuesday, where the Missouri Historical Society Board of Trustees and Missouri History Museum Subdistrict Commission confirmed her hiring. Commission chairman Romondous Stover lauded her for her “museum experience, academic credentials and commitment to community.”
John Roberts, board of trustees chair, said she “possesses the qualities of a true leader: vision, strategic thinking, non-profit financial acumen, and experience with public/private partnerships.”
Levine will keep her Santa Fe home; her husband Tom Merlan will travel back and forth. She will move to St. Louis in April.
“Our kids were absolutely not ready to give up our beautiful home in Santa Fe,” she said.
“I will miss red and green chile,” Levine added. “And of course I will miss New Mexico most of all.”