Interim Speed Art Museum director Stephen Reily isn’t going anywhere soon. The museum announced Monday afternoon that Reily was dropping the qualifier “interim” and would become the director.
“Stephen stepped in graciously to serve the Speed at a time of need,” Martha Slaughter, chair of the Speed Art Museum board of trustees said in a news release. “When he quickly brought it to life with a new strategic plan, careful financial planning, some key hires, and support for our incredible staff, the Trustees quickly sought a way to turn his tenure into something more permanent. Eighteen months into life in our new building, the Speed has developed its sense of place and purpose.”
Reily took over as interim in March 2017 after Ghislain d’Humières left to help care for his ailing father in France.
“When I got here, I found 125 colleagues who were ready to take the Speed to the next level — as proven in our remarkable results over the last eight months,” Reily said in the release. “I am very excited to continue working with those colleagues and with our two boards to redefine what a great museum can mean for its city and state.”
The museum is exceeding all of its goals three months into its fiscal year, he said.
The Speed Art Museum reopened in March 2016 after a three-year, $60 million renovation. Reily came in as interim director just a year after the grand reopening.
The release highlighted several achievements the Speed Art Museum has seen since Reily took the position. The museum’s membership is growing faster than any time since it reopened, the release stated, and “Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art,” which looked at race, history and culture in the South, was the most popular exhibit since the reopening. It attracted two and a half times as many visitors as other exhibitions.
The Speed Art Museum also has acquired more than $1 million in new art for its collection and introduced a monthly “After Hours” event with live music, refreshments and art that has attracted more than 1,000 visitors to the museum since Reily came on board.
Reily told Insider in December that visitor numbers are up 75 percent compared to the years before the renovation and denied reports that the museum could be facing financial strains. At the same time, the museum decided to close its retail shop and laid off its four retail shop employees.
An entrepreneur and civic leader, Reily served on the Speed Art Museum’s board previously for 10 years, is the longtime chair of the Greater Louisville Project and is a member of the Louisville Urban League’s board. He owns three companies: marketing agency Vibrant Nation, brand licensing agency IMC Licensing, and digital financial wellness provider SUM180.