After five years as curator and director of administration at the Loudoun Museum, will leave the job to become curator of collections and exhibits for the Kodiak Historical Society on Kodiak Island, off the coast of Alaska.
“It is a major move to a unique location, and I am excited to take on a new set of challenges,” she said in a statement announcing her departure.
Kodiak’s native Alutiq settlement dates back 7,000 years, and Blumenthal will be working in an area rich with history—including native culture, the Russian era, and the American era after the land was sold to the United States in 1867 for $7 million—roughly 2 cents per acre.
A devotee of history, Blumenthal noted she will be working in the oldest building in Alaska—and the oldest building of Russian origin in North America. “It will be all new history for me,” she said.
Blumenthal’s service in Leesburg has coincided with the institution’s most tumultuous years as it wrestled with shrinking financial support needed to maintain its operations.
And it is the museum’s board members and the volunteers, many of whom she has trained in curatorial duties, whom she will miss the most, she said.
“I’ve developed such wonderful relationships,” she said, calling her colleagues “phenomenal” for their passion and dedication.
Museum Board President Elizabeth Whiting praised Blumenthal for her work at the museum. “We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for being willing to come to us when we were in a state of turmoil,” Whiting said, praising Blumenthal for her “gameness and willingness” to tackle anything and everything that was needed to allow the museum board “to leverage very spare resources to [achieve] a stable operation.”
Blumenthal said her five years working for the museum during uncertain times have provided her with a lifetime’s worth of experiences. “I have been honored to play a part in stewarding Loudoun’s history during this time,” she stated.
In Alaska, Blumenthal will be curating a collection of 25,000 items, but she said she would miss the Loudoun Museum’s “wonderful 10,000-item collection,” which she has organized and digitalized so people can easily research items online.
One thing Whiting does not worry about is keeping the museum running, as the board of directors and its cadre of volunteers know exactly how to step in and keep the core curatorial duties in place.
“We’ve had experience before, and we’ll do it again,” Whiting said, referring to a prior occasion when the board directors and the volunteers stepped up and kept everything running smoothly.
Currently, the museum and the county government are in negotiations for a contract that would enable the museum to get on more stable footing. Whiting said she anticipated that the Board of Supervisors would be discussing contract terms at its last meeting this month.
Blumenthal’s last day on the job will be July 13. Three days later, she and her husband, Justin, along with their two dogs, will head off for a nine-day drive trip to their new home. The last leg of the trip is a 12-hour ferry board ride to Kodiak.
“I start work the next day,” Blumenthal said, laughing.