John Wetenhall joined the museum as director in 2013. He also serves as associate professor in GW’s Museum Studies graduate program.
Dr. Wetenhall spearheaded the opening of the museum at GW in 2015. Under his leadership, the museum has become a cultural center on campus that engages faculty and students through collaborative programming, and works with embassies and area NGO’s on creative partnerships. The museum has received significant collections donations and major grant awards, including from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new contemporary art curator and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for an online collections initiative. One of the most important accomplishments during Dr. Wetenhall’s tenure has been the acquisition of the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection and accompanying endowment that bolsters the museum’s standing as an international leader in textile scholarship.
Dr. Wetenhall has 25 years of museum leadership experience, including directorships at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville, the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, and the Miami Art Museum (now Perez). He has also worked as a curator, museum consultant, and art history professor. Dr. Wetenhall holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College, a master’s from Williams College, an MBA from Vanderbilt University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University. His current scholarship focuses on museum leadership and values.
He served for ten years on the board of the American Alliance of Museums as vice-president, treasurer, and chairperson for strategic planning, as well as ten years on the U.S. National Committee of the International Council of Museums. He currently serves as vice-president for strategic planning on the board of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. He has received the Museum Service Award from the Southeastern Museums Conference and the Florida Association of Museums’ Lifetime Achievement Award.