Park City Museum announces new executive director after a year-long national search
Morgan Pierce officially takes the helm July 15
Morgan Pierce wants to take Park City’s history into the future.
Earlier this week, the Park City Museum board of directors made Pierce’s goal a little easier when it announced him as the museum’s new executive director.
The board selected Pierce after a national search that took nearly a year, and cited Pierce’s extensive record and commitment to the history field as one of the deciding factors, said board chair Paige Anderson in a statement.
“He knows how to create innovative programming and how to build up audiences and community engagement,” she said. “The pieces that make for lasting success and will deepen the impact of the museum as we continue to preserve the character of Park City.”
Pierce, who will begin his new chapter in Park City on July 15, succeeds long-time museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison, whom the museum parted ways with after 23 years in early 2020.
Pierce said his career in the history museum and historic house museum world helped prepare him for the Park City job.
He brings to town a vast museum, exhibit and collections experience from being chief curator at Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses in New Orleans, and from his time serving as curator of collections at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia.
“Being very in tune with local history and telling those types of stories to visitors is what interests me the most in working with museums,” Morgan told The Park Record. “There’s absolutely something special with Park City, from the commitment of historic preservation, the nearly 150 years of incredible stories we tell at the museum, is something that fascinates me. And this is something I’m looking forward to continuing through research and the development of new exhibits.”
Pierce comes to the Park City Museum fresh from his last post as executive director for the Museum of Culpeper History, which collects, preserves, interprets and promotes the history of Culpeper from the Triassic Period 215 million years ago to present day.
“That’s partly because in the 1980s a quarry in Culpeper County unearthed the largest concentration of dinosaur footprints in the world,” he said with a chuckle. “We’re not talking T-Rex fossils, but almost 5,000 sets of footprints were something phenomenal to be found there.”
Pierce’s fascination with history stems from his upbringing in Virginia.
“I don’t need to advertise how much history there is throughout the state, but I was surrounded by state parks, national parks, presidents’ homes and Civil War battlefields,” he said. “This was something that really resonated with me, because I love telling and hearing stories. And remembering and memorizing people, places and dates, was something that made me interested in history at such an early age.”
Pierce followed his passion and graduated with a bachelor of arts in history from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and earned his master of arts degree in arts management from George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia.
“Before I went to college, my father told me to choose a field I loved and I would never work a day in my life,” Pierce said. “So that’s exactly what I did.”
Pierce is already forming a plan to fulfill its mission to “preserve, promote and protect” local history, and the plan includes restoring the Glenwood Cemetery and working with the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History to preserve historic mining structures around town.
“I would love to pick that up, and continue the great progress that has been made so far,” he said. “These things are incredibly important aspects to the work of the museum.”
In addition, Pierce has ideas for the museum itself.
“One of our significant goals is to continue to be a place for visitors to learn about the history of Park City, but I also want it to be a place where locals and residents would want to visit as frequently as possible to learn something new and see something different,” he said.
Pierce also said he has no immediate plans to make any staff changes.
“We are, however, going through a strategic planning process, and the results of that process will guide our work and what we do for the next 3 to 5 years,” he said.
In the meantime, Pierce, his wife Megan and two young sons, Dylan and Gabyn, will spend time getting to know the town and the local residents.
“I do not ski, but my wife’s entire family snowboards,” he said with a laugh. “So I tell people that I plan to take the same beginner classes as my two small boys, and I will make sure I fall down on my butt more than they do, so they will know it is OK to fall down. We do, however, plan on hitting the slopes so the boys will be able to pass dad by the end of the year.”
Pierce is excited to become a Parkite, and would like to see more people visit the museum.
“I would like to invite everyone to stop by and say ‘hi,’ because I would be more than happy to show folks around and talk for a bit.”
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