The president and chief executive officer of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis has detailed his plans to retire, the museum announced Thursday. John Vanausdall, who has led the museum for nearly 26 years, will step down June 30, 2023.
Vanausdall, 66, joined the Eiteljorg in 1996 after 18 years in various creative and management roles at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
During his tenure at the Eiteljorg, Vanausdall led the museum through what it calls unprecedented growth through expansion and renovation of the museum building itself and growth of its operating endowment.
In June, the museum reopened its renovated Native American Galleries, which was the capstone project of a recently-completed $55 million capital and endowment campaign.
“Now, as the Eiteljorg completes the work of its most recent five-year strategic plan and the Project 2021 capital and endowment campaign, the museum is poised to develop its next vision and strategic plan,” Vanausdall said in written remarks. “The timing is perfect for new leadership to take the helm and navigate the museum into the 2030s.”
The Eiteljorg Board of Directors has formed an executive search committee that is partnering with New York-based executive search firm Bridge Partners LLC to find Vanausdall’s successor.
“There are not enough superlatives for this board, or all the members of 26 years of Eiteljorg boards, to fully express our gratitude to John Vanausdall for what he has done for the museum,” Eiteljorg Board Chair Pat Anker said. “Although he has always been reluctant to acknowledge his contributions to the museum’s successes, John has been the significant driver. He has clearly been a stellar leader, but John is also an extraordinary person and friend. He has built a great past and present for our beloved museum. Our challenge will be to find someone who can help us build an equally great future.”
The committee plans to announce a successor in the first quarter of 2023. Vanausdall will assist with the transition to the new leadership through his retirement date in June.