The Arab American National Museum is the only museum of its kind in the United States. And now, the woman who brought it to life is now preparing to turn over leadership of this singular institution, the cultural home of Arab Americans, to a new generation.
Dr. Anan Ameri, 67, has announced that she will retire as director of AANM in mid-May 2013.
Following a vacation of several months, she will return to the museum as a consultant on a project-by-project basis.
“It is with deep and mixed feelings that we acknowledge Anan’s well-deserved retirement,” Hassan Jaber, executive director of ACCESS, the Museum’s parent organization, said in a statement. “She played a crucial role in the creation and development of AANM and her insight and deep understanding of Arab Americans and the Arab World is reflected in the Museum’s world-class exhibits, leading-edge public programming, educational outreach and myriad annual and special events.”
Ameri, a native of Jordan, was officially hired by ACCESS in 1997. She oversaw the Cultural Arts program for the human services agency before her focus turned to planning and fund-raising for the AANM, a separate, permanent home for that program.
Under Ameri’s guidance, AANM achieved Smithsonian Affiliate status less than two years after opening in May 2005, and is deep into the process of earning accreditation from the American Association of Museums.
In less than seven years, she was instrumental in building an institution that is nationally known for excellence in its field and has forged a reputation in the broader community as an advocate of civically engaged museums that are responsive and respectful of the diversity of our nation, and reflective of the concerns of the communities they serve.
"Anan has been a true visionary, forging the future for this national institution. In its few short years of existence, the Museum has become a worldwide sentinel and a font of accurate information about Arab culture and the contributions and a powerful force on behalf of American diversity," said former head of ACCESS Ismail Ahmed, now an associate provost at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
A committee is being assembled to conduct a national search for a new director. Ameri will remain at the Museum full-time until her retirement, but as of now, day-to-day operations are being overseen by Deputy Director Devon Akmon.