Photo credit: Todd Bates

The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art announced today the appointment of Laura Hine as Executive Director to lead the museum in its next stage of strengthening and growth. A year ago in April, Tom and Mary James founded the museum with their personal collection as a celebration of art, as well as a contribution to the cultural and economic life of their beloved St. Petersburg.

“Laura oversaw the development of The James Museum coordinating the architecture, construction and development of the commercial spaces on Central Avenue. Laura possesses important leadership qualities including business sense, common sense, and strong interpersonal skills. Now that the museum is in a strong position when it comes to daily operations, we will broaden our team with a board of trustees, engage in strategic planning and take actions necessary to ensure the long-term vitality of the museum. Laura’s skills will be instrumental to this. I couldn’t be more pleased to continue working with her in this new capacity,” said Tom James.

“The James Museum is another gem in the City’s cultural crown, a place of beauty and education,” Said St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman. “I know directly of Laura’s passion for this City and for service to this community, so I look forward to the contributions her leadership at The James will provide as our prominence as City of the Arts grows ever greater.”

Laura has two school-aged children. Together with her husband, Hank Hine, who is also a museum director, the two will each lead one of the several important cultural institutions in St. Petersburg.  Hank Hine, Executive Director of The Dali, said “Naturally I am thrilled that my wife will enter into this project to advance art and advance our community. The Dali pursues collaborations with every art institution in the Bay Area, and the excitement around the growth of our museums stems from the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats. I’m glad we have this flotilla in St. Petersburg! And I’m happy the James will have such a competent leader at the helm.”

Laura is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She served six years in active duty as a surface warfare officer with multiple deployments, crossing the Pacific four times by ship. Overseeing emergency response functions on a guided-missile cruiser, then leading a detachment of hovercraft, Laura also served as part of a team that liaised with the United Nations planning and executing humanitarian aid projects in Southeast Asia. Laura earned her MBA at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg while working for the Beck Group leading construction projects in the Bay Area and South Florida. While working on The James Museum project, Laura was also the founding president of the not-for-profit Friends of North Shore Elementary providing unconditional support, enthusiasm and advocacy for a St. Petersburg public elementary school, as well as public education more broadly. Several more Friends organizations have been formed and collaborate in a Friends of Schools network.

About The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art

The James Museum contains over 400 works of art selected from over 3,000 pieces acquired by Tom and Mary James over their 50 years of art collecting. The 88,000 square foot museum includes over 30,000 square feet of gallery space; a double height lobby with water feature; a Native American jewelry collection; 6,000 square feet of rental event space supporting both large events and break-out sessions; a commercial catering kitchen; and a museum shop and café. Planned programming includes special exhibitions in a variety of genres, artist talks and demonstrations, art classes, docent tours and children’s activities. Through exhibitions and education programs, The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art emphasizes the core values of art that moved Tom and Mary James: action, fortitude, heritage and integrity. 

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