Gore Place Appoints New Executive Director, Succeeds Longtime Head

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Photo by Gore Place The mansion at Gore Place, can be seen during the annual Sheepshearing Festival.

The following announcement was provided by Gore Place:

Gore Place, the historic house museum and farm in Waltham and Watertown announced on Nov. 20 the selection of Gavin Kleespies as its next Executive Director, effective January 2, 2024.

Most recently, Mr. Kleespies served as the Director of Programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) in Boston, Massachusetts. In this role, he specialized in public history programs and won two Leadership in History awards from the American Association of State and Local History. Before this role at MHS, he was the Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society (now History Cambridge) and the Mount Prospect Historical Society in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Mr. Kleespies earned a Bachelor of Arts in the Social Sciences from Bard College and he received a Master of Arts in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.

Mr. Kleespies will take the helm from outgoing Executive Director, Susan Robertson, who will retire after 37 years of distinguished leadership of Gore Place. Ms. Robertson served as Assistant to three previous Directors before being appointed Director in 1993 and Executive Director in 2001, making her the longest-serving Director since Gore Place was founded in 1935. Ms. Robertson will be named Executive Director Emerita of Gore Place upon her departure.

During her tenure, Ms. Robertson focused on strategic planning, capital infrastructure, and interpretive programs. She played a significant role in raising $8,000,000 for the preservation and restoration of Gore Place’s three historic buildings and the construction of two barns on the Gore Farm. Ms. Robertson guided the museum in achieving accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2003, as well as re-accreditation in 2013 and 2023. Under her guidance, Gore Place also received the UP Designation from the Mass Cultural Council in 2019 for its work toward greater accessibility and inclusion. Her leadership can also be seen in the ongoing success of the Sheepshearing Festival at Gore Place, a New England spring tradition since 1987. She received the New England Museum Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

Deborah Gates, President of the Board of Governors, shared: “This is a transformative moment for Gore Place. We enter into it with gratitude for Susan’s service and excitement about the next chapter with Gavin. Gavin’s significant museum experience and programming creativity will be an enormous opportunity for us and for the museum visitors we serve, helping us to reach new audiences.”

For this nationwide search, Gore Place retained the executive search firm, Museum Search and Reference, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

About Gore Place

Gore Place is a 50-acre country estate in the city, a grand mansion steeped in history, a working farm, and an invaluable community resource in Waltham and Watertown, Massachusetts. The historic estate is owned and operated by Gore Place Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the estate as a cultural resource for the community. Gore Place is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and receives funding from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. To learn more, visit goreplace.org.

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