The National Music Museum (NMM) is delighted to announce the selection of Matt Collinsworth as its new director. Chosen after a nationwide search, Collinsworth assumed his new executive duties on March 11, 2019. The NMM, one of the world’s premier collections of historic musical instruments, is located in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the campus of the University of South Dakota.
The museum has completed its capital campaign to expand the museum, and construction is set to begin this summer. The board has already raised more than $9 million, and the City of Vermillion recently pledged $700,000 for the expansion project. Additionally, the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company agreed to build a new off-site Preservation and Research Center collections facility for the NMM, as part of a cooperative lease-to-own agreement. Collinsworth will spearhead the effort to raise the remaining funds needed for new exhibits, the new Preservation and Research Center, and strengthening the Museum’s endowment.
Collinsworth most recently served as the interim executive director of the Lexington (Kentucky) Art League. Prior to that, he served for 15 years as director of the Kentucky Folk Art Center (KFAC) at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. Collinsworth helped grow KFAC from a small regional institution into a nationally recognized museum with a reputation for producing groundbreaking exhibitions, many of which traveled across America. Additionally, under his direction, the museum’s collection grew by 400 percent and programming and facilities were significantly enhanced. Concurrent with his tenure at KFAC, Collinsworth served as Morehead State University’s senior director of Outreach, Preservation and Education, providing oversight for both Morehead State University Public Radio and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. Collinsworth holds an M.F.A. from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College.
“We were all impressed with Matt’s versatility as a museum leader," said Larry Schou, dean of the College of Fine Arts at USD and chair of the advisory committee. "He brings experience in all the areas where the museum is now focused: raising money for operations and capital projects, developing its national board of trustees, involving students and faculty in museum activities and growing and implementing programs that serve diverse audiences locally, regionally, internationally and online.”
As an experienced university administrator, Collinsworth understands the importance of fully integrating museum programs into campus and community life. He also appreciates both the challenges and opportunities of running a museum that is not located in an urban hub. “Vermillion is a wonderful community, and USD is such a fine university," said Collinsworth. "I am very excited about the role the museum will play in bringing visitors and attention to both. The National Music Museum houses one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. We not only have the opportunity to create a world-class museum facility, we look forward to creating an exemplary museum program that puts people at the center of everything we do.”
“It is a distinct honor for me to be invited to join the distinguished staff at the National Music Museum and to work with such a supportive board and university administration," said Collinsworth. "My family and I are very excited to become part the community. The National Music Museum has the potential to take on ambitious and aspirational projects that serve and attract audiences in our home region and even across the world."
Collinsworth took the reins from Interim Director Dennis Acrea, who successfully led the museum through the transition period from December 2017 through February 2019.