Backus Museum changing leadership

J. Marshall Adams

J. Marshall Adams

FORT PIERCE — With pride and gratitude for 18 years of service, the Board of Directors of the A.E. Backus Museum announces the retirement of Executive Director Kathleen Piowaty Fredrick at the end of September, followed by the appointment of J. Marshall Adams as the new Executive Director.

Since 1999, Fredrick has led the Museum through its most significant period of growth and success in its fifty-seven year history. Most recently, she spearheaded a $1.4 million expansion that successfully doubled the Museum’s exhibition space and ability to showcase the work of A.E. Backus. Additionally she developed a new permanent gallery to recognize and honor the relationship of Florida’s legendary Highwaymen painters to their artistic mentor, A.E.Backus.

Fredrick leaves a vibrant legacy which includes expansion of the Museum’s collection of A.E. Backus paintings more than ten-fold, establishing the largest publicly held collection of the Florida master’s work in the nation. Further, she ensured the perpetuation of the creative legacy of Backus by negotiating and securing all intellectual property rights of the artist’s work to be held in trust by the Museum. During her tenure she developed the Museum Store to support the Museum’s mission and nurtured an enthusiastic group of volunteers, which includes the Board of Associates, fondly known as the “BOAs,” who manage the Museum’s special events. Fredrick leaves the Museum poised to enter a new era of outreach, education and relevance as the legacy of A.E. Backus continues.

Following an exhaustive national search, the Museum’s Board of Directors has appointed J. Marshall Adams to succeed Fredrick as the new Executive Director. Adams is a gifted professional who brings a wealth of knowledge to the Backus Museum. His more than twenty years in the museum field and extensive experience includes nearly nine years as the Director of Education at the Vero Beach Museum of Art as well as positions with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. “It worked out perfectly,” said Dan Nelson, Board Treasurer and member of the executive search committee. “We looked all over the country and found the best person for the job right in our own backyard.”

Adams received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and a Master of Science degree in Education from the Bank Street College Leadership in Museum Education Graduate Program in New York, New York. Additionally, he was also in the inaugural cohort of the Getty Leadership Institute’s “Museum Leaders: The Next Generation” program. He and his wife, Carrie, and their two children make their home in Vero Beach.

“The Backus Museum is fortunate to have Marshall as its new Executive Director,” said Janie Hinkle, President of the Board of Directors. “Kathleen has done so much for us over these years, and she and Marshall are committed to working together for a smooth leadership transition.” She continued, “We are proud of our past accomplishments, and with a marvelous new Executive Director coming in, the Board looks forward to taking the Museum to the next stage of excellence in its remarkable history.”

About the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery:

The A.E. Backus Museum is fresh from a multi-million dollar expansion, which doubled its size, as well as a reimagining of exhibitions and a Museum Store expansion. Housing the nation’s largest public exhibition of artwork by Florida’s preeminent painter, A.E. Backus, the Museum also offers the State’s only permanent multi-media exhibition on the Florida Highwaymen.

With a career spanning over 70 years, Backus (1906 – 1990) was the first Florida born artist to paint Florida. He was lucky to have known great success during his lifetime with paintings hanging in the homes and offices of a who’s who of Florida power and wealth. A renowned humanitarian who abhorred the South’s racist attitudes and segregation, Backus taught and mentored the Florida Highwaymen. Twenty-eight artists in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame owe their start to A.E. Backus. If there were no A.E. Backus, there would be no Highwaymen.

Changing exhibits from artists of national and international acclaim round out the Museum’s Florida-centered mission. The outdoor Mural Plaza opens onto a park that borders the Indian River Lagoon and offers a place for fresh air and artistic inspiration. Families and school groups will enjoy the Art & History Scavenger Hunt which is open to the public and free of charge.

Summer Hours: Saturday, 10 AM - 4 PM, Sunday, noon - 4 PM, Closed Monday through Friday. Admission is $5.00 per person. AARP, AAA and Veterans with appropriate I.D receive a $2.00 discount. Students with a school I.D., children under 18 and active duty military are always free. The first Sunday of the month is Family Day and admission is free.


A.E. Backus Museum, 500 N. Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce, FL
(772) 465-0630,

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