South Carolina State Museum Commission and Foundation Board Names New Executive Director

Staff Report

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

The South Carolina State Museum Commission and the South Carolina State Museum Foundation Board are excited to announce Amy Bartow-Melia as the new executive director of the South Carolina State Museum.

Bartow-Melia joins the State Museum from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where she most recently served as the MacMillan Associate Director for Audience Engagement. In her role Bartow-Melia was responsible for leading the museum’s efforts to engage and empower Americans to be informed participants in their Democracy.  For over 20 years she served in various leadership roles within the museum; overseeing education, public programs, including the Smithsonian Jazz Masterwork’s Orchestra, digital engagement and visitor services, among others. 

“The South Carolina State Museum has an important vision to be an ‘ever-changing, innovative institution reflecting the essence and diversity of South Carolina,’” says Bartow-Melia.  “I am honored to be joining an amazing team of museum professionals dedicated to serving our audiences and look forward to building on the museum’s important work to be a welcoming and inclusive community forum and educational resource for the people of South Carolina.” 

As an internationally recognized museum executive, Bartow-Melia is active in the museum community, from serving as chair of the American Alliance of Museums Accreditation Commission, to leading two international art nonprofits based in the U.S. and London.

”We are truly fortunate to be bringing Amy on as Executive Director of the Museum,” said Commission Chair John F. McCabe. “Her experience and expertise will be invaluable for the people of South Carolina.” 

Before beginning her notable tenure in in the museum field, Bartow-Melia began her career as an educator after graduating from The College of William & Mary, Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Education. She continued her education with a master’s degree in Museum Education from The George Washington University. She is also a graduate of the Getty’s Museum Leadership Program (MLI) and the Smithsonian Leadership Development Program. 

"We are thrilled to have Amy coming on as the leader of our museum," said Dedee Rowe, chair of the South Carolina State Museum Foundation Board. "She will, without a doubt, continue the museum's long tradition of being an innovative institution reflective of the state's deep and diverse history and culture.” 

The announcement comes after State Museum executive director, Willie Calloway, announced his retirement in October of 2019 after serving in the position for 18 years. The State Museum search committee, consisting of Museum Commissioners, Foundation Board Members and DHR International search firm conducted a nationwide search. Bartow-Melia is expected to take on her new role in August 2020.