Former Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission Executive to Lead Gettysburg Project
(January 31, 2012) Gettysburg’s new Seminary Ridge Museum, slated to open in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, announced today that Ms. Barbara Franco will serve as its first Executive Director of the Museum.
Barbara Franco is nationally recognized as a leader in the history museum field and has served as a past Chairman of the American Association for State and Local History. She brings a wealth of experience in historical interpretation and the opening and operation of new museums. She has been actively involved in planning for the Civil War 150th Anniversary at both the national and state level. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Franco has led museum programs in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington, D.C. Most recently, she served for nearly 8 years as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Franco expressed her “delight to be working on this project, helping to preserve and bring to life one of the most important surviving buildings of the Civil War era in Gettysburg and be a part of one of the lasting legacies of the 150th anniversary of the great battle.”
Gettysburg’s Seminary Ridge Museum is currently under construction in preparation for opening in the spring of 2013. The exhibits will interpret the dramatic developments of the first day of battle, including the pivotal role of the building and its cupola used as lookout by General Buford and others, its conversion to field hospital for more than 600 wounded, and the moral and religious tensions around slavery, African-American history and the local work the Underground Railroad. The interpretations will include video productions, ambient and visitor selected audio programs, artifacts, original murals by Dale Gallon and multi-generational experiences in more than 16 thousand square feet, plus a special ticketed tour of its famous cupola.
Bradley R. Hoch MD, representing the management committee of the museum project, said: “Barbara Franco's skill, experience and proven success in museum creation are nationally recognized. She is the right executive director to open Gettysburg’s Seminary Ridge Museum, and we indeed are very fortunate."
Michael Cooper-White, President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary and partner in the joint venture, captured the importance of the project and choosing leadership carefully: “Converting Schmucker Hall into a state of the art museum will faithfully steward a cherished heirloom that we bequeath to present and future generations who search for the significance of the American Civil War. This museum will be a unique study in human conflict, compassion and commitment and will benefit from the leadership and guidance of Barbara Franco, who has the special skills and knowledge to help us steward this great treasure.”
Franco summed up her eagerness to join in the project, commenting “this museum will offer a new level of interpretation to the first day of the Battle, the building’s contributions to the social and religious context of the Civil War and its devastating aftermath. I am pleased to be able to combine my research and interest in 19th century history with my experience in museum interpretation, education and marketing.”