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Delaware Art Museum director is Philly-bound

After leading the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington for the past eight years, Dr. Danielle Rice has accepted a position at Drexel University.

Starting in September, Rice will serve as Drexel’s director of the Master of Science program in museum leadership, where she will recruit and teach the next generation of museum directors.

“This is a new program that Drexel has initiated … that’s more geared towards mid-level museum professionals who want to move up and take charge,” Rice said. 

The Delaware Art Museum announced Rice’s departure Monday. Her last day is Sept. 1.

During her tenure, Rice was credited with not only raising funds, but also rejuvenating the museum’s image, initiating a large number of community partnerships and ushering in several major exhibitions. The museum said Rice also employed technology in an innovative way, launching cell phone tours, for example.

“Danielle has been a great asset to the museum and to the community. She has made the museum a place where everyone can feel welcome. We are deeply grateful for her leadership over the past eight years, and we wish her all the best in her next adventure,” board chair Gerret Copeland said.

Knowing she has the board’s blessing, Rice said she feels “terrible. I feel so bad, I love these people so much. … It’s been the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

Rice began her career at the Delaware Art Museum in June 2005, following 19 years at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She took the helm on the heels of the museum’s big expansion and feels she’s leaving the museum in good shape.

“We have a lot more art, we have a lot more community support … the finances are stable and we celebrated our 100th birthday in 2012 and we launched a centennial fundraising campaign—and that has a $10 million goal—and we’re about two-thirds of the way through. So it’s exactly where we thought we would be at this point in time, so I feel like it’s in a pretty good spot.”

Taking that into consideration, as well as personally looking to downsize and return to Philadelphia, Rice said the Drexel offer was too good to pass up. 

The museum’s current chief financial officer, Mike Miller, will step up in the interim while the museum undertakes a national search for Rice’s successor.

WHYY ran a special art edition of First ahead of the Delaware Art Museum 100th year celebration. In the show, Rice sat down with WHYY for a candid one-on-one conversation. 

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