September 6, 2016
Virginia Living Museum Executive Director Page Hayhurst announced her resignation Tuesday, Sept. 6. She will leave the museum at the end of the year to become president and CEO of Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, S.C.
She will remain through the end of the museum’s 50th anniversary celebration including the opening of the permanent outdoor Dinosaur Discovery Trail on Oct. 15 and the conclusion of the Future Ready Campaign to raise $5 million for sustainability and science achievement.
The museum’s Board of Trustees plans a search for a new director and will name an interim director in December.
“From the moment I joined the VLM team, I knew this was a special place, full of passionate people motivated to make a difference. Working with such outstanding trustees, staff and volunteers has been an unmitigated joy, even in the difficult times the museum has faced,” said Hayhurst.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we wish to congratulate Page on her new opportunity, and we wish her well on this new chapter in her life. We thank her for her many years of dedicated service, and we are excited for the opportunity to build upon what she has started. The Board of Trustees has begun the process to identify Page’s successor, and we are committed to furthering the vital role that the Virginia Living Museum has in our community,” said Alonzo R. Bell, Jr., president of the museum’s Board of Trustees.
Hayhurst’s 11-year tenure at the VLM was marked by accomplishments and challenges.
Challenges included the calling of the museum’s construction note in 2008 during the financial crisis that led to a successful year-long campaign to raise $9 million to retire the debt, and two flash floods in 2012, the second of which inundated the lower level of the museum, requiring three months of repairs and renovations.
Holding the VLM to the highest industry standards, Hayhurst led the museum’s initial accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2009 and its reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 2011 and AZA in 2014. The VLM is one of only 14 institutions in the country that is accredited by both AZA and AAM.
Hayhurst initiated several expansion projects, including the cafe in 2007, the renovation of the Abbitt Planetarium in 2008, the amphitheater and Conservation Garden in 2009, the Children’s Garden and Playground in 2013, the Wild and Well exhibit in 2014 and the Dinosaur Discovery Trail this year.
Hayhurst oversaw expansion of the museum’s conservation efforts, including the Green Living exhibit house, installation of solar panels, federal species survival programs with red wolves and seahorses, and citizen science such as FrogWatch USA. In 2015 the museum received the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Gold Award in recognition of nearly 50 years of environmental education and conservation efforts.
A rebranding campaign in 2011 received a regional Emmy for the “Protect What’s Precious” video and an award from AZA for the entire campaign.
In February 2011, Hayhurst received the Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership award from Volunteer Hampton Roads for demonstrating “overall excellence in meeting community needs.” The award citation said that during her tenure, the museum “experienced increased membership, fundraising, annual visitation, improved its service to the community in science education and eliminated the museum’s capital debt, all despite difficult financial times.”
She came to the museum in 2005 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science where she was director of development and executive director of the VIMS Foundation.
The Virginia Living Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit museum and regional education center that is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News. For more information call 757-595-1900 or visit thevlm.org.