Kathleen McDonald, Executive Director, Mitchell Museum
M. Kathleen McDonald, an Evanston resident with wide-ranging professional experience in museum management and operations, has been named executive director of Evanston's Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, an independent, not-for-profit educational institution focusing on the history and living cultures of North America's Native peoples. McDonald succeeds John N. Low, who resigned in August to take an academic position in the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In announcing McDonald's appointment, Mitchell Museum Board President Glennis Lundberg said, "More than ever, a small museum like ours needs a talented, hands-on leader with a complete set of specialized skills, from exhibit production and fundraising to facilities management, educational programming, and community relations. Kathleen McDonald has demonstrated those capabilities during an 11-year career at museums in Chicago and other major cities.
"She also has shown herself to be someone who works in a sensitive and collaborative manner with ethnic communities to develop and promote exhibits and programs reflecting their diverse cultures and histories," Lundberg said. "Our board is confident that she will nurture and further cultivate the Mitchell Museum’s longstanding, positive relationships with Native American organizations, advocates, and artists."
McDonald has been curator of collections for the San Diego Historical Society and public historian for exhibit development at the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum), where she also served as assistant curator of decorative and industrial arts. She has served as a consultant to the Maritime and Yachting Museum, Stuart, Fla., and the Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, N.Y.
She received internship training at the National Museum of American History and Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, both in Washington, D.C.; the Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry, both in Chicago; and Lehigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, Pa.
McDonald has a master's degree in museum studies, with an American studies concentration, from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s degree in American studies and economics from Lehigh University.
"The Mitchell Museum is a gem," McDonald said. "It's an extraordinary community asset with a national reputation for its rich collections, fascinating programs, and family-friendly atmosphere. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to guide this treasured institution."