Michael C. Quinn, 65, the head of the Museum of the American Revolution, who guided Philadelphia’s newest museum from intriguing concept to $120 million red-brick reality at Third and Chestnut Streets, has resigned his position after six years to pursue writing, teaching, and speaking.
“The board of directors is deeply indebted to Michael for expertly guiding this museum through such a critical phase in our evolution,” said John P. Jumper, the retired Air Force general and chief of staff who is chairman of the museum’s board of directors. “His vision and commitment have led us to this moment of transition where the organization is thriving and poised for its next great steps.”
Jumper, who has been working with the museum’s executive leadership on long-term strategy, will assume the position of acting chief executive while the board initiates a national search for Quinn’s successor. The board named Quinn to the just-created position of president emeritus.
“Having successfully launched such a vibrant national museum, I am excited to begin exploring other passions, sharing my experience by writing, speaking, and teaching, engaging with other institutions, and mentoring future leaders in the field,” said Quinn in a statement. He will continue to work with the museum on several projects, assist with the transition to new leadership, and serve as a liaison with the museum’s community of supporters.
H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the museum’s chairman emeritus, lauded Quinn’s effort in bringing the museum from planning to fruition, a period Lenfest characterized as “challenging years.” Lenfest added that Quinn’s “passion for history and education combined with his business acumen made him an ideal leader. His designation as president emeritus reflects our gratitude for his tremendous service.”
Board member and former Gov. Ed Rendell noted that “the museum was no more than a promise when Mike came aboard. He was tremendously successful in guiding the museum from a plan to a successfully operating museum.”
Quinn had been head of the Montpelier Foundation, the Virginia showcase for the land, home, and ideas of James Madison.
He arrived in April 2012 and oversaw all aspects of planning and opening the museum. The museum’s capital campaign surpassed its $150 million goal by $23 million, or 15 percent. And when the building at last opened in April 2017, it did so under budget and debt-free, with an endowment of $48 million, said Quinn.
Since its opening, more than 300,000 visitors, including more than 30,000 schoolchildren, have visited, viewing George Washington’s field tent and other artifacts of the Revolution on view in the galleries, said officials. Almost all of the museum’s holdings of more than 3,000 artifacts come from the old Valley Forge Historical Society, but officials are continuously adding to the collection.
The museum was initially planned for a site in Valley Forge, but a series of disputes with federal and local officials delayed realization. Finally, in 2010, Lenfest and Rendell persuaded federal officials to go along with a land swap — the museum’s 70-plus acres in Valley Forge for an acre of Park Service land at Third and Chestnut.