Wednesday, February 19, 2014, found New Mexico History Museum Director Frances Levine on the floor of the state Senate, for all the right reasons. Given a seat of honor on the rostrum, she heard the reading of a certificate honoring her service to the state and wishing her well on her next adventure as president and chief executive officer of the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.
Fran was thrilled to tears. (Literally, tears, but then our staff is fond of saying she cries at puppies.) After the certificate was read, Sens. Peter Wirth, Bill Payne and John Ryan heaped on the praise. Both Wirth and Payne called the event “bittersweet.” Happy as they are for her new position, they said, New Mexico will sorely miss her. To that end, Ryan, who happens to be married to Levine’s boss, Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica Gonzales, joked that he had heard Gonzales would not be accepting Levine’s resignation.
Delighted as that would make the museum staff, the fact is that Fran’s resignation is official. Her last day with us is March 16, which is a Sunday and the final day of our popular exhibit Cowboys Real and Imagined. Word in the hallway has it that if you come on that day, you can help send her off with more good wishes than a practical woman can fit into a suitcase.
Here’s the wording of the official certificate:
Fifty-First Legislature, Second Session, 2014
The New Mexico State Senate, Having Learned of the Contributions of DR. FRANCES LEVINE to the State of New Mexico, Does Hereby Extend its Appreciation; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Frances Levine became the Director of the Palace of the Governors in 2002 and oversaw the construction of the New Mexico History Museum and the installation of its premier exhibits and programs on the history of New Mexico and Santa Fe; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Levine came to the Museum System from her position as Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences at Santa Fe Community College, where she taught classes in New Mexico history and the ethnohistoy of the pueblo and Hispanic communities of the Southwest; and
WHEREAS, Frances was a native of Connecticut but became a southwesterner when she earned her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and both her Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Levine was a member of the American Alliance of Museums, the New Mexico Association of Museums, the American Society of Ethnohistory and the Santa Fe Trail Association, and in 2009, she attended the prestigious Getty Leadership Institute; and
WHEREAS, the Secretary of Cultural Affairs has lauded Frances Levine’s contributions to the Cultural Affairs Department and the State, saying that her contributions will not be forgotten by the State and that her strategic leadership in the museum profession will be sorely missed in New Mexico; and
WHEREAS, in announcing Dr. Levine’s appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, the Chair of that Museum’s Commission noted her commitment to community, and the Chair of the State Historical Society of Missouri Board of Trustees said that Dr. Levine “possesses the qualities of a true leader: vision, strategic thinking, nonprofit financial acumen and experience with public-private partnerships”;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that appreciation be expressed to Dr. Frances Levine for her effort in making the New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors a World-Class Institution; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate’s sincere wishes for her continued success in museum development and management be expressed to Dr. Levine.
Signed and Sealed at The Capitol, in the City of Santa Fe.
Mary Kay Papen, President Pro Tem
Senator Peter Wirth
Lenore M. Naranjo, Chief Clerk
New Mexico State Senate