The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society has a new executive director, just the 11th since it was founded in 1862.
Melissa Brown, formerly director of research and interpretation at the museum, succeeds Cynthia Conides, a Buffalo State College professor who will now return to her full-time job after serving as a loaned executive for the past four years.
Brown will transition into the new position as Conides reverts to the college's Museum Studies Program by Dec. 31, though she will stay on part time as curator of special projects. The transition time also gives Brown time to complete work on a major museum initiative, "John Mix Stanley's Trial of Red Jacket," opening in October at the Nottingham Court museum.
Brown helped create the "Buffalo Bills 50th Anniversary Season" exhibit last fall, and has worked closely with Conides on a series of recent initiatives. An expert in managing collections, she has consulted on more than a dozen major exhibits at the society and other Western New York museums.
Joan Bukowski, board president, said in a prepared release the appointment is a logical transition of expert leadership.
"The board of managers is delighted that Melissa can move seamlessly to carry on the work Cynthia initiated to grow and modernize the museum," she said. "We are impressed by her innovation and imagination and look forward to where she will take us."
Brown, who holds a bachelor's degree in history with a museum studies minor from the Oswego State College, joined the staff in 1998 as a collections assistant. She has since earned a master's degree in historical administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Dec. 31 also represents the end of the present four-year agreement between the museum and Buffalo State College. The "memorandum of understanding" allows the college, located across Elmwood Avenue from the museum, to aid the museum, as it did with Dr. Conides' involvement. The board and the college are currently negotiating an extension, which will start Jan. 1, 2011.