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Missouri History Museum picks new leader

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | 7:19 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A New Mexico archaeologist and longtime museum director has been chosen to head the Missouri History Museum, and her supporters say she is a savvy political operator and gifted fundraiser who should thrive in her new position.

Leaders of the Forest Park museum said Tuesday that Francis Levine, 63, will be the museum's new president, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Levine turned Santa Fe's old Palace of the Governors into the more than 96,000-square-foot, award-winning New Mexico History Museum, which she has run for 12 years.

"I think we got an outstanding leader," interim president Bob Cox said. "She's done it all. She's what we need."

Levine has a doctorate in anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She turned Santa Fe, N.M.'s old Palace of the Governors into the more than 96,000-square-foot, award-winning New Mexico History Museum, which she ran for 12 years.

Veronica Gonzales, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, said Levine is "a strategic leader in the museum profession."

"She will be sorely missed," Gonzales said in a statement.

In St. Louis, she'll make $260,000 annually in total compensation. That's a little over half the $515,000 that former president Robert Archibald made. He quit under duress in 2012 over concerns about his compensation, vacation time and an expensive land deal.

Levine will also get 20 vacation days. Archibald had 50 to 70 combined vacation and "writing" days.

Her contract has a few perks, including having 90 days of temporary housing and moving expenses covered. But Levine's employment letter spells out some economical requests, such as a request that she fly coach when traveling on museum business.

Levine said she was aware of the museum's recent troubles.

"Those reports, the circuit attorney's report, the investigative reports, they've really shown where some work is needed, and they've shown also the strength of support for this institution."

Romondous Stover, chairman of the museum's public subdistrict commission, said Levine understands how to bridge community gaps and how to negotiate tough museum governance issues.

The Zoo-Museum District in St. Louis collects $70 million annually in taxes to operate the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis Zoo. Levine will be the first woman to be president of one of the institutions.


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