Loudoun Museum Names New Director

There’s a new leader at Loudoun Museum.

The museum’s board of trustees announced Tuesday that Joseph Rizzo has been named the museum’s new executive director. He comes to Loudoun by way of Charleston, SC, where he served as curator of interpretation and museum programs at Drayton Hall.

Rizzo has more than 10 years of museum experience and has held positions in both community museums and at historical sites in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. He is also an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston. Prior to his work at Drayton Hall, he was a historian with the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Rizzo holds a doctorate in history from West Virginia University; a master’s degree in American history, also from West Virginia University; and an undergraduate degree in history from State University of New York Buffalo. He has authored numerous publications and reviews and was a 2018 recipient of the Whitelaw Founders Award.

“I am honored and excited to lead the Loudoun Museum in our mission to discover, conserve, interpret and disseminate knowledge of Loudoun’s culture and history,” Rizzo said. “I am looking forward to working with the trustees and the Town of Leesburg and county staff as well as with our partners and the community as we transform the museum and advance our mission.”

It’s been a tough year for the museum, which saw its executive director terminated in early summer and its remaining staff resign. The museum has been closed since June. The museum’s board of trustees has vowed both to the Leesburg Town Council and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors—its landlord and major funding source, respectively—to develop a sustainable plan for the museum’s operations.

“Dr. Rizzo has not only the credentials and experience to lead the Loudoun Museum but the passion and vision to transform the museum into an institution the community can be proud of,” Michael O’Connor, president of the museum’s board of trustees, stated. “Joe brings us the kind of expertise the Board of Trustees deemed crucial for the Museum’s long-term success.”


3 thoughts on “Loudoun Museum Names New Director

  • 2018-11-13 at 3:30 pm

    Sounds like the best “acquisition” the Loudoun Museum has ever made. Looking forward to improvements….

  • 2018-11-14 at 7:02 am

    I am looking forward to the museum reopening. I always take out-of-town guests through it as an introduction to Leesburg.

  • 2018-11-15 at 2:28 pm

    I wish him all the best, but the main problem with the Loudoun museum is that few people care to see the exhibits because they are static. Meanwhile, much of the “collection” (if you can call it that) is stitting in storage in a county-owned building on Edwards Ferry Road that is destined for the wrecking ball once the new courts building gets under way. The “collection” consists of a lot of old junk that people have donated and have taken a tax deduction for as if the museum was a consignment shop. So, there’s no rhyme or reason to it and it requires a curator to go through it all. In addition, The museum has been mismanaged for decades but kept going by former chair Liz Whiting for posterity sake — her late mother was the curator and maybe the founder, if I am not mistaken. Liz used her political connections to get county and town money to keep the museum going — and with no performance meausures. The town charges $1 a year rent for the museum and has no performance standards for it. Kaj Dentler, the Leesburg Town Manager, tried to institute some performance measures and the Council shot it down. Frankly, other museums like this are not doing well either and subsist solely on government handouts., The current Board of Supervisors has been overly patient and graciious with the tax dollars, but perhaps if they pulled the money (assuming RIzzo can’t turn it around), maybe the wealthy PEC types can come to the rescue and bail it out with their money. I don’t think tax dollars will save it.

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