January 8th 2010
Longue Vue Lands High Profile Leader
Longue Vue House and Gardens
7 Bamboo Road, New Orleans, LA 70124 ▪ 504.488.5488 ▪ http://www.longuevue.com
For Immediate Release
Contact: Flora Williams, 504.488.5488, ext. 323, or
After a five-month national search, Longue Vue House and Gardens has hired Joe Baker—curator, educator, and accomplished museum professional—to serve as the institution’s Executive Director starting January 4, 2010. Baker brings to Longue Vue a long track record of results in enhanced exhibits and programming, revitalized collections, increased funding, new audiences, and greater community support at universities, museums, and cultural organizations across the nation.
Baker is charged by Longue Vue’s Board of Directors with stewardship of Longue Vue’s many facets: the house and collections, the gardens, programming, and community outreach. Board President René Fransen, speaking on behalf on the entire Search Committee, notes that Baker excels at operating at the intersection of the creative process and best business practices. He adds, “Joe is a visionary individual who has national contacts with the potential to help Longue Vue to continue its important philanthropic work in a post-Katrina environment, where local funding sources are strained.”
Baker comes to Longue Vue from the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. As the first Director for Community Engagement, he strengthened the public and civic purposes of the arts through innovative campus-community partnerships. Some of his key successes include creating an experimental exhibition space, Night Gallery, a partnership with Vestar Development Corporation and the ASU School of Art; researching health disparities in urban populations through a partnership with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, resulting in the establishment of a community garden; and hosting an all elements hip-hop event that explored grassroots arts activism.
Prior to his tenure at the Herberger Institute, Baker was the Lloyd Kiva New Curator of Fine Art at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. There, he pioneered new opportunities for emerging and underrepresented artists through innovative exhibits and programming, such as Holy Land: Diaspora and the Desert, which won international acclaim for its examination of seven displaced artists and their cultural ties to desert concepts.
Baker has also held senior leadership positions at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Phoenix Office of Art and Culture and teaching positions at Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado), the University of Incarnate Word (San Antonio, Texas), and East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina). He currently serves on several boards, including the Editorial Advisory Board for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and the American Indian Advisory Board for Idyllwild Arts. He is also an award-winning artist himself.
Known for his willingness and proven ability to work within museums and structures undergoing periods of significant transition, Baker is the perfect match for Longue Vue, which is poised between recovering from Hurricane Katrina and moving forward as a leader in the region’s cultural economy.
The former estate of philanthropists and civic activists Edith and Edgar Stern, Longue Vue is comprised of a Classical Revival mansion, housing an extensive collection of 18th to 20th century decorative arts, surrounded by numerous formal and informal gardens, many of which were designed by premiere landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.
Longue Vue, which now serves as a cultural and educational nonprofit, upholds its mission “to preserve and use the historical and artistic legacy of Longue Vue and its creators to educate and inspire people to pursue beauty and civic responsibility in their lives” by offering extensive programming to the public, often at no cost. Longue Vue is also an active partner in the community, working, for example, to re-green Pontchartrain Park, the historic African American neighborhood that Edgar Stern helped to develop.
Baker recalls that upon seeing Longue Vue for the first time, he was stilled by the experience. He adds, “While all of us are forever imprinted with the potent memory of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, Longue Vue compels me to dwell in a different place. What I see when I am here is a beautiful and powerful setting, wrought from the efforts of dedicated and curious staff and from the contributions of countless supporters.” Pondering for a moment, he continues, “Longue Vue, now, resonates with humanity. Its recovery is a living reminder of the human spirit, of the call to action that was answered by supporters from around the country.”
The Garden Conservancy was one of the organizations that answered the call to action by sending a team of volunteer gardeners to help with the clean up following the storm. This led to designating Longue Vue as a Preservation Project. The Garden Conservancy then partnered with the New York Botanical Garden to raise $100,000, divided between Longue Vue and the New Orleans Botanical Garden, and hired Heritage Landscapes to develop a renewal plan for the gardens that was much more in keeping with their original beauty and distinction. Baker notes, “The Garden Conservancy’s commitment to and investment in Longue Vue is visible every day. I welcome the continuation of our partnership and the exploration of future possibilities.”
The Garden Study Club of New Orleans, which has given grants to Longue Vue to revitalize and maintain Oak Allée and the lawn that flanks it, is another organization that has been paramount to Longue Vue’s recovery. Longue Vue’s Head Gardener Amy Graham explains, “Without the generous financial support of the Garden Study Club, we could not have restored Oak Allée, an iconic element of our estate.”
Visitors and locals interested in viewing Oak Allée and seeing Longue Vue’s recovery may tour between 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and between 1 and 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 504.488.5488 or visit http://www.longuevue.com.
About Longue Vue House and Gardens
Longue Vue House and Gardens is a magnificent 8-acre Country Place Era estate comprised of a Classical Revival-style mansion surrounded by beautifully landscaped formal and informal gardens, including the interactive Lucy C. Roussel Discovery Garden for children. The former home of philanthropists Edith and Edgar Stern, Longue Vue was designed by renowned architects William and Geoffrey Platt and by Ellen Biddle Shipman, one of America’s premier landscape architects. Longue Vue, which now serves as an educational and cultural resource, offers tours daily and hosts numerous events centered around design, preservation, gardening, architecture, and civic engagement. Longue Vue is a designated National Historic Landmark, is accredited by the American Association of Museums, and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in New Orleans at 7 Bamboo Road, Longue Vue is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children and students. For more information, call 504.488.5488, or visit http://www.longuevue.com.