News Column

Beaches Museum and History Park gains new executive director whose other job is City Council

June 16, 2014

By Dan Scanlan, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville



June 16--Jacksonville Beach City Councilwoman Christine Hoffman has been named the new executive director of the Beaches Museum and History Park.

Hoffman replaces Maarten van de Guchte, who officially resigned as of Sunday to take a job with a real estate company.

The Beaches Area Historical Society announced Hoffman's appointment on Thursday following a board of directors vote after a search committee interviewed four candidates and made its recommendations.

Hoffman, elected Nov. 6, 2012, for a four-year City Council term, said her new job and her elected position are complementary. Taking over on Monday, she has a passion for helping preserve the past and helping the community's future.

"It gives me a unique perspective to bring forward and the archives and the buildings on the campus are so important to preserving the beach and also capturing the history we make every day," Hoffman said. "It is a huge task and job and far beyond one person. It is about the volunteers, the most passionate people I have ever worked with."

Appointed to the Beaches museum in 2011, van de Guchte is a veteran museum professional who has also been director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and the Kennert Art Museum of the University of Illinois. But after a 40-year nonprofit career that included three museums and began as a UNESCO archaeologist in Peru, he said he was looking for a change and joined Berkshire Hathaway Florida Network Realty, making his first closing on Thursday.

"It was 25 years ago that I got my first position as a museum director. I have been very fortunate to be given the opportunity to have two art museums and one history museum," he said. "In view of that track record of 40 years, I said I will do one more thing and give it a try. I am excited by the new environment. It's good."

The Beaches Museum at 381 Beach Blvd. includes the two-story museum facility plus a History Park with an enclosed steam train, depot, two-story house and the restored Beaches Museum Chapel.

Hoffman's annual salary is $60,000 a year. She became a museum board member earlier this year. She has a master's of business administration from the University of North Florida'sCoggin College of Business, and comes to the museum after a six-year career as catering sales manager with TPC Sawgrass. She has also worked for the American Cancer Society as a unit executive director managing its Beaches, St. Johns County and Nassau County education and prevention programs. Her volunteer work includes Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry.

Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549

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Source: Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL)