By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney has selected an interim director to lead its G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture.
April White will replace Will Stoutamire, who is leaving the museum July 5 after accepting a position at the University of West Georgia. He served as the museum’s director for nearly five years.
White’s appointment begins Monday (July 1) and continues through Aug. 31, 2020. During that time, UNK will conduct a national search for a permanent museum director.
“I am honored and sincerely humbled by the opportunity to serve UNK and the Kearney community as interim director of the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture,” White said. “It is impossible for me to accurately express my level of gratitude and excitement as I accept this position at one of my absolute favorite places.”
An education records assessor in UNK’s Office of Student Records and Registration since December 2016, White is no stranger to the museum located on UNK’s west campus.
She’s been involved with the Frank Museum in various capacities since 2012, serving as interim director from March 2013 to May 2014 and collection registrar from June 2012 to December 2016. Working alongside Stoutamire, she co-curated museum exhibits, coordinated improvement projects, supervised employees and implemented a new artifacts inventory system.
“I have admired and appreciated the G.W. Frank Museum for many years,” White said. “Having watched the museum grow and change into the vibrant, dynamic institution it is today, I am eager to continue the remarkable innovations implemented by Dr. Will Stoutamire. I also look forward to introducing my own ideas to continue promoting the museum’s presence at UNK while extending its reach throughout the Midwest.”
White has previous experience as an assistant collection coordinator at the Museum of Nebraska Art and holds two degrees from UNK, a Bachelor of Arts in art history and Master of Arts in history.
Stoutamire joined UNK as director of the Frank Museum in September 2014 and also served as a graduate lecturer in the department of history.
He led the museum’s “reinvention,” which included a new name, mission and vision, expanded hours, new programming and exhibits and the restoration of the 129-year-old building’s interior to reflect different eras in Kearney’s history.
Last year, a permanent exhibit showcasing the home’s 60-year history as part of the Nebraska State Hospital for Tuberculosis was unveiled along with a collection of decorative arts dating from roughly 1740 to the early 1900s and a new Discovery Room for children. The reinvention also introduced new technology that enhances the visitor experience and opened the building’s third floor and basement to guided tours.
Stoutamire received the University of Nebraska Board of Regents KUDOS award – the university’s top staff honor – and National Council on Public History New Professional Award for his work.
“I will always cherish the opportunity this community and university gave me to grow as a public historian and museum professional,” Stoutamire said. “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished at the Frank Museum over the past five years, from the restoration of the building to the expansion of the museum’s story to include new voices, new exhibits and engaging new programming. I believe we have built a strong foundation and I look forward to seeing where the museum goes from here.”
The Tallahassee, Florida, native will serve as an assistant professor of public history at the University of West Georgia, as well as co-director of the university’s Center for Public History and public history master’s program.
A farewell reception for him is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Tuesday (July 2) at the Frank Museum, 2010 University Drive.
ABOUT THE FRANK MUSEUM
The G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Architect George William Frank Jr. designed the house – one of the earliest in the Great Plains with electricity – for his parents, George Sr. and Phoebe Frank. It was completed in 1890 and featured a pink Colorado sandstone exterior, several fireplaces made with imported tile, handcarved oak woodwork and a large stained-glass window.
The museum is open 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free.