After serving the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) for fourteen years as its Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Hand Evans is leaving to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of Middleton Place Foundation, a National Historic Landmark in Charleston, South Carolina.

Her selection resulting from a nationwide search, Evans will assume her new role with Middleton Place in August of this year.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors we express our regret that Dana is leaving and also share our deep admiration and gratitude for the vision and leadership she has displayed over the years we’ve been fortunate to have her at the MSV,” said Grady W. (Skip) Philips, III, President of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Board of Directors, when making today’s announcement.

During her MSV tenure which began in 2011, Evans worked with the Board, staff, consultants, peers, and community members to create a new vision, mission, and brand for the MSV and then develop and implement five-year Strategic and ten-year Master Plans. As a result, the MSV transitioned from a traditional house museum and gardens to a transformative gathering place for shared ideas that has enriched the local and regional community.

Under the umbrella of these visionary plans, accomplishments resulting from Evans’s leadership have included renovations of the historic site of the Second Battle at Kernstown and adjacent Rose Hill house and farm and creating a partnership with Frederick County Parks & Recreation to operate a park at Rose Hill; development of a corporate partnership program; renovation and reinterpretation of the MSV Glen Burnie House; conversion of under-utilized spaces to a Makerspace for community engagement; a significant remediation of the administration building and main exhibition galleries; achievement of accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums; and most recently, working in a multi-year partnership with the City of Winchester and Virginia Department of Transportation to plan and open The Trails at the MSV, now Virginia’s largest public art park and free to all.

As one testimony to the impact of Evans’s leadership, with the opening of the trails and expanded exhibits, MSV annual attendance has increased by more than 640% to stand at more than 200,000, and membership has increased more than 310% to now number 4,200 households. As important, the Evans legacy of innovative exhibitions, educational programs, and partnerships not only engaged the community but drew upon art and history to provide new understandings that will shape the future.

“While it is time in my career to assume new challenges,” says Evans, “this is unquestionably a bittersweet moment in which I am filled with appreciation and warm regard for the support of the MSV Board, volunteers, donors, staff, and community I have been honored to serve.”

As President and CEO of the Middleton Place Foundation, Evans will be responsible for overseeing a site encompassing 110 acres and including America’s oldest landscaped gardens, a house museum, stable yards, an African American freedman’s dwelling, a restaurant, retail shops, and the 55-room Inn at Middleton Place. The site also manages the historic Edmondston-Alston House on the harbor in Charleston’s historic High Battery. Now celebrating 50 years since its founding, the Middleton Place Foundation has collaborated with renowned landscape architect Thomas Woltz to develop a $60 million master plan which Evans will direct to take the site into its next phase of growth.

According to MSV Board President Philips, an interim director will be selected to lead the staff and assist the Board of Directors while a nationwide search gets underway for the next Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

“Thanks to the leadership of Dana Hand Evans and the support of the MSV Board, staff, volunteers, donors, and members, this museum site is a vital, vibrant part of this community and has established a reputation for excellence that reaches far beyond the Shenandoah Valley,” says Philips, “and this will serve us well as we move forward in the coming months.

“We thank and wish Dana all the best as she embarks on the next chapter of her career. We will use the transition time to celebrate and build on past successes and leverage those as we focus our search process to find the next Executive Director and CEO who will lead the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley confidently into the future.” -END-