The Johnson County Park and Recreation District has hired a new director to lead the Johnson County Museum.
Mary McMurray, a historian specializing in 20th century U.S. history, will start in her new role on April 6. She said she “couldn’t be more excited” to join the museum staff.
“I’m very lucky to have been a member of this community and already been a member of this museum, knowing how important this is to our community,” McMurray said. “The people that I know that work here, I was already looking up to them in the professional world, and so it’s really nice to get to join this team at this time where they are doing this incredible work with their strategic plan, and a great time in the museum community in general, where people are craving storytelling opportunities for engaging with one another and our past, and helping to forge a better future by looking to the past.”
McMurray takes over the position after Mindi Love, who served as director for 20 years until last fall. Anne Jones, curator of collections, served as interim director of the museum during the search for a new director.
Susan Mong, superintendent of culture for the district, announced the new hire to staff a few days ago. She said McMurray is passionate and enthusiastic about local history and museums, making her an ideal fit for the role. McMurray has also been a patron and member of the museum that she will now oversee as director.
“I was really pleased that our search brought us to somebody local; we certainly had candidates from all over the country, but we found a real treasure here locally,” Mong said. “Mary is going to bring some really great ideas. She’s got a rich background in some really prestigious institutions and has a rich history in education and outreach. We’re really excited to have her take us to the next level here at the Johnson County Museum.”
McMurray’s current role is superintendent of historic sites and outdoor education for Jackson County. Prior to that, she has served as director of learning and engagement for the Truman Library Institute, director of The White House Decision Center at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, university instructor, and project manager for a digital education platform.
Mong said the district is working on a strategic plan for the museum and also seeking accreditation for the museum. McMurray will focus on these plans in her new role, as well as overseeing a new diversity internship this fall. She will also pull from her experience consulting on multiple projects, most recently for Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Discovery Center. She earned degrees in history from the University of Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Kansas.
McMurray said she plans to spend time listening to the staff, “learning a lot” from their expertise, and also hear what the community wants for their museum.
“I’m looking forward to learning a lot and seeking opportunities to polish the incredible jewel that’s here, to make it even more relevant and engaging to the community that we serve,” she added.
She and her husband, Sean Ewbank, live in Prairie Village with their daughter, Mabel.