The Museum of Northern Arizona trustees have announced that Mary Kershaw will become the executive director in early June, with a public welcome on June 6, from 5 to 8 p.m.
A seasoned museum professional, Kershaw comes to MNA from the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, where she has been director for nine years. During her tenure, the museum celebrated its centennial with a party for more than 7,600 visitors, a year-long program of events and the development of a new contemporary art venue. In partnership with the museum’s foundation, Kershaw launched a $12.5 million capital campaign for the new venue, which is on track to meet its goal.
Kershaw comes to MNA at a time when the museum is also counting down toward its 100th year.
Her museum career has often put her at the helm of diverse institutions such as MNA, where the disciplines of art and science meet. Her career began in Britain, where she started out as a field archaeologist excavating sites for the Museum of London Archaeology Service. She moved into curating collections and developing exhibitions for the Harrogate Borough Council. Among her projects was overseeing repair work to a 12th century castle and an 11th century hermit’s cave.
By 1992, Kershaw had moved into the top leadership position as Head of Museums and Arts for the Harrogate Borough. She was responsible for four independent museums in a 500-square-mile district, with diverse collections including archaeology, fine arts, social history and textiles.
In 2003, she became part of the senior management team for York Museums Trust, responsible for four museums, a historic observatory, a medieval abbey, five collection facilities and 2.5 million objects.
Kershaw was born and raised in Philadelphia, coincidentally the same city where MNA founders Harold and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton had lived. Like the Coltons, she found herself drawn to the Southwest. In 2010, the opportunity to lead the New Mexico Museum of Art tempted Kershaw and her husband, Peter Kershaw, to move from England.
Peter Kershaw is a film director and screenwriter with more than 20 years’ experience in television production in the UK. In Santa Fe, he has been teaching cinematic arts and technology at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and he also completed an MFA in screenwriting while in Santa Fe. With the move to Flagstaff, he is looking forward to focusing on his writing.
When she takes the reins in June, Kershaw will become the 11th director of the Museum of Northern Arizona, replacing Carrie Heinonen, who was director from 2014 through the end of 2018.
PHOTO COURTESY MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA