The man who expanded the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, USA, and oversaw construction of its acclaimed Monitor Center has died.
John B Hightower, 80, died on 6th July 2013.
Hightower directed three maritime museums, transformed a sleepy state arts commission into a national powerhouse and was at one time was the youngest head of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
He remained active in the public arts and culture world after his retirement from the Mariners' Museum, serving as director of the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center during the final troubled months before it opened in 2008, and also as a board
John Hightower came to Hampton Roads in 1993 to become president and CEO of the Mariners' Museum after serving as director of planning and development for the arts at the University of Virginia, where he had been for four years. Under his leadership, the museum grew to include the Defending the Seas gallery, the $1.4 million Small Craft Center and the jewel in the group, the $30 million Monitor Center, opened in 2007.
"He was wonderful to work with," said Marge Shelton, assistant to the president of the Mariners' Museum. Shelton worked for Hightower from 1998-2006. "He had a very good sense of humor. We laughed almost every day.”
Anna Holloway, the Monitor Center curator and the vice president of collections and programs at the museum, said Hightower believed in the museum's ability to expand, to care for and display artifacts from the Civil War ironclad Monitor when, in the late 1990s, the Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sped up recovery efforts.