Title: Director of University Museum and Historic Houses
Company: University of Mississippi
Location: Oxford, Mississippi, United States
Robert Saarnio, Director of the University of Museum and Historic Houses at the University of Mississippi, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in museum direction and management.
Upon receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Harvard University in 1992, Mr. Saarnio later achieved a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Having entered the museum field at a time of dramatic expansion, he took on his first role as Curator of Architecture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts in 1995, remaining for five years. Mr. Saarnio subsequently served as the Curator and Collections Manager of Cultural Properties at Cranbrook Educational Community from 1999 to 2002, as Director of Museums and Curator of University Collections at Johns Hopkins University from 2002 to 2005 and as Associate Director and Historic Preservation Manager of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s historic site Shangri La from 2006 to 2008. Having taken his talents to Hawaii, he served as the deputy director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, now known as the Honolulu Museum of Art, in 2008 and 2009, and subsequently as the director of development of the College of Engineering for the University of Hawaii Foundation until 2012.
Notably, since 2012, Mr. Saarnio has been privileged to serve as the Director, University Museum and Historic Houses at the University of Mississippi. Alongside his University role, he is a Board member of the Mississippi Heritage Trust and Preservation Action (Washington D.C.), as well as a member of the City of Oxford’s Historic Properties Commission. Throughout the course of his illustrious career, Mr. Saarnio has been appointed a National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize Fellow by the American Academy in Rome in 2005 and was selected to the 2004 class of the Getty’s Museum Leadership Institute. He attributes his success across the arc of his career to the great privilege of his educational background and to many inspirational mentors in the museum field. His mentors include Robert Venturi, an architect, and Dan L. Monroe, former Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts. In the coming years, Mr. Saarnio aims to continue leading his team in service to the curriculum, faculty, students and general public at the University of Mississippi Museum, through dynamic alignment with the University’s mission of research, teaching, and service.
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