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MILWAUKEE – Today, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts’ (BCA) Board of Directors announced its first Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Parker, to lead the BCA as it establishes a destination arts museum in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
“We are thrilled to have Robert join and lead the organization at such a pivotal time,” said Kristen Hardy, Chair of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts board. “We interviewed many qualified candidates from around the country and were thrilled to find Robert, who brings the right combination of skills to the BCA. Robert shares our vision and has practical, hands-on experience combined with a track record of success in museum development, fundraising campaigns and exhibit coordination. We are confident that Robert is the leader we need to bring the BCA vision to life.”
Specializing in building organizations from the ground up, Parker brings 25 years of progressive leadership experience to the new role. Most recently, he served as the inaugural Executive Director at The Chickasaw Nation-Chickasaw Inkana Foundation in Tupelo, Mississippi, leading the design and development of the new $36 million Chickasaw Heritage Center (CHC). This included spearheading a fundraising campaign that raised $30 million in just two years.Parker’s wealth of additional experiences will serve him well in his new role at the BCA. From his time serving as Director of Exhibits at the United States Navy Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C, Parker has an in-depth understanding of meaningful exhibitions, which will play directly into his role at the destination arts museum and Gallery 507. In addition, Parker was the former Superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park located in Cambridge, Maryland where he led the development of new park exhibits and interpretative programs and laid the groundwork for a new $21 million Visitor Center. He has served in various roles for organizations dedicated to National Parks, monuments and historical sites, and currently serves on the National Board of Directors for the Association of African American Museums.
In his new role at the BCA, Parker will be responsible for overseeing the planning, design, construction, community engagement and operation elements of the BCA’s two Bronzeville developments: Gallery 507 and the future destination arts museum.
“I am thrilled to join this impressive organization to help advance their strong vision for the BCA and the Bronzeville community,” said Parker. “This project brought me to Milwaukee, and I’m confident it will do the same for visitors from across the state and nation.”A native of Kinston, North Carolina, Parker graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional History and a minor in Museum and Archival Studies. He went on to receive a Master of Arts in Public History specializing in Cultural Resource Management from North Carolina State University.
The BCA partnered with Bridge Partners to support its efforts to hire the organization’s first Executive Director and CEO. Bridge Partners, based in New York, is an executive search firm with expertise in leading inclusive executive searches.
ABOUT BRONZEVILLE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Established in 2020, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA) was created to highlight and celebrate African American art. Located in Bronzeville – a historically African American neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the BCA invites people of all ages to engage with its dynamic exhibitions and enriching educational programming. The BCA seeks to advance institutional equity, connect intergenerational audiences, and provide a place for people to experience intellectual and cultural exchange.
The BCA promotes current and future artists and art professionals by exploring and examining the history and heritage of Black artists. Central to the BCA’s mission is removing barriers from the enjoyment of art and forging a future that is more creative, connected, and historically informed. Bronzeville’s bustling entrepreneurial and artistic history serve as the foundation for the BCA, inspiring us to continue to honor and embody this multifaceted heritage. Learn more at www.BCAMKE.org.
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