Museum Hires New Executive Director


(SANIBEL) Sam Ankerson has been hired as the new Executive Director for the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Ankerson comes to Sanibel from West Palm where he was Deputy Director, COO and Special Projects Director at the Norton Museum of Art.

Dr. José H. Leal will serve as Interim Director/Curator with Board of Trustees support to ensure daily operations of the Museum until mid-March. José will then continue in his role as Science Director/Curator. Ankerson’s first day on the job will be March 15th.

As Deputy Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Special Projects Director at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida since January 2018, Ankerson was involved in all aspects of managing an institution with a collection of approximately 8,000 works of art, 100 staff, and 150,000 visitors annually (pre-pandemic). He coordinated the Norton’s transitional logistics for a $110M expansion designed by Foster + Partners that opened in February 2019, and has managed operational and program areas including marketing, education, and visitor experience.

Prior to joining the Norton Museum of Art, Sam spent 14 years at Shelburne Museum (Shelburne, VT) overseeing fundraising, marketing, and membership for Vermont’s largest museum, renowned for its collections of art and Americana which number some 150,000 works. For four years, Sam was Director of Major Gifts for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Vermont. Sam began his career in the music business.