The Ogunquit Museum of American Art has hired a new executive director, recruiting an art historian from Michigan with deep New England roots to lead the seaside museum.

Amanda Lahikainen begins her duties May 1 as director of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. Photo courtesy of Ogunquit Museum of American Art

Amanda Lahikainen, who currently chairs the art department and oversees the art gallery at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will begin May 1 in Ogunquit. The museum hopes to open for the season May 31, depending on the status of the coronavirus.

Lahikainen holds a doctoral degree in art history from Brown University and a bachelor’s from Wellesley College. She held a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress in 2012.

In a phone interview, she said took the job in Ogunquit because she appreciates the aesthetic and sense of place the museum offers, as well as its potential.

“You walk onto the property and you feel at ease. It has that, as the French say, ‘Je ne sais quoi.’ There is something about that place,” she said. “I see an opportunity with Ogunquit that you don’t often see in the museum world – a high-quality small art museum that is poised to move to the next level. There is a moment of possibility, and I can see a lot of growth in terms of programming, exhibitions, collections and the gardens.”

Lahikainen was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and both of her parents are involved in the arts. Her father is a curator at the Peabody Essex Museum and her mother is involved in historic upholstery conservation. She and her husband own a summer home in Lamoine.

Lahikainen replaces interim director Richard D’Abate, who was appointed when former director Michael Mansfield left Ogunquit to become president of Maine Media Workshops and College in Rockport in December.

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