March 16, 2006
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer
David M. Kahn, the executive director
of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum, is stepping down in
May to take a job in New Orleans as the director of the Louisiana
Kahn, who has headed the city museum
for more than nine years, said that the opportunity to move to New
Orleans and help a historic institution rebuild in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina was an assignment he could not pass up.
"I've had a long-term interest in New Orleans and Louisiana
history and culture," Kahn said.
He acquired a personal collection of
25 rare, first-edition books on Louisiana history, and said he has
"There really isn't any other
circumstance under which I can imagine leaving Hartford," he
Kahn begins his work in Louisiana on
May 15, three days after leaving his post in Hartford.
In his new job, he will direct a network
of five museums and historic sites dedicated to the story of Louisiana.
The job will include rebuilding a museum building - built in 1835
- that lost its roof in the hurricane, and had its collections and
With the state of Louisiana deciding
that a functional tourism industry is key to rebuilding, Kahn said
that state museum funding will be kept at pre-Katrina levels. He
will also oversee the museum's undertaking of an exhibit about Hurricane
"What makes Louisiana unique is
its history and its unique culture," Kahn said. "This
is what attracts people there from all over the county and from
all over the world."
"People coming to New Orleans
in the future," Kahn said, "are going to want to know
about Mardi Gras, they're going to want to know about jazz and they're
also going to want to know about Katrina."
A search committee to replace Kahn
has already been formed, said James Williams, chairman of the museum
board. The board hopes to find a new director sometime between September
and the end of the year, he said.
Marion Leonard, the museum's director
of development, will act as interim director.
Some accomplishments under Kahn's leadership
The museum's decision in 2003 to assume
responsibility for managing the Old State House, where a $3.5 million
permanent exhibit on the history of Hartford will open in September.
A new audio tour of the Old State House was introduced on March
An expansion of audience-friendly and
interactive exhibitions on topics ranging from 18th-century Connecticut
furniture to the history of the comic book.
Improvements in cataloging the museum's
collections and making them easier for the public to navigate.
"We were lucky to have somebody
like David for the past nine years," Williams said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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