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Westwood’s Fairbanks retires from museum

Fuller Craft Museum has bid a fond farewell to Director Jonathan L. Fairbanks as he retires from his role as Director at Fuller Craft Museum, effective July. After a long, prestigious career, including five years as Director of Fuller Craft Museum, Fairbanks has decided to retire at the age of 84.

In recognition of his leadership, scholarship, and service, the Board has named him Senior Research Associate and Director Emeritus. Fairbanks plans to be both a resource for this institution and continue his scholarship, writing, and painting. Deputy Director Denise Lebica will serve as Interim Director while a national search is conducted to fill the position of Executive Director. This position will be known as the Jonathan Leo Fairbanks Executive Director in honor of Jonathan's indispensable contribution to Fuller Craft Museum.

"It seems like a good time to step aside," said Fairbanks. "Fuller Craft Museum is at the moment of emergence. The chrysalis has broken; we are going to fly. But now’s the time for me to step back - let some other talent come aboard and lift us to a new plateau of achievement. I’ve enjoyed working here. I did witness a wonderful staff. They had new ideas and thought positively about this place. Everyone who comes here loves this museum, it’s got a beautiful prospect, a sense of nature and art coexisting. What this place does is engage the human spirit. I wish for the future of the Museum a very active arts community built into our landscape."

In 2012, when Jonathan was named to the position, Fuller Craft Museum gained a world-renowned scholar of American antiques and art. Before Fuller Craft, art, design, and true creative vision were the cornerstones of Jonathan’s multifaceted career as a curator, educator, museum administrator, artist, historian, and writer. Among his many accomplishments, Fairbanks had previously founded the American Decorative Arts and Sculpture department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and served as the department's curator from 1970 - 1999. He expanded the institution's contemporary craft holdings of furniture, ceramics, glass and fiber during his tenure. He received his training at the University of Utah (BFA, 1953), University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (MFA, 1957), Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware (MA, 1961). Employed at Winterthur over the next decade, he became the Associate Curator for Conservation responsible for building the conservation/research wing of that Museum.

Over the past five years as Fuller Craft Museum Director, he continued to play a leading role as an advocate for American crafts, design, and decorative arts while leading Fuller Craft Museum, growing its programming, collection, and national reputation. In 2014, Fairbanks fostered a new level of stability and curatorial relevance when he adopted an additional role as Trustee for the extensive collection of the late Joan (Jockwig) Pearson Watkins (1924 – 2013). Through his passion, intellect, and expertise, Fairbanks expanded the Museum’s programming, collection, and national reputation to a new level of prominence, helping to reclaim its position as an influential advocate for contemporary craft.

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