September 18, 2012

CEO Leaves the Speed Museum

By Elijah McKenzie–

In August, the Speed Art Museum announced that after five years of service, Charles Venable will be leaving his position as CEO to take a job with the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Venable’s last day at the Speed will coincide with the Final Viewing Day on Sept. 23, when the museum will open its doors to the public one last time before its temporary closure.

The Louisville landmark is scheduled to undergo a three-year-long expansion that will create an outdoor art park and piazza, as well as an entirely new north building to house modern and contemporary art and temporary exhibitions.

“I am very proud of all of our collective accomplishments and will continue to be a great champion of the Speed as it embarks on its exciting future,” Venable said in a press release.

Lisa Resnik, David Knopf and Scott Erbes have been appointed as Co-Interim Directors by the Museum Board of Trustees to direct and implement strategies of expansion in Venable’s stead.

Resnik, who joined the Speed in 2007, is the current Chief Operating Officer of the museum and will serve as chairwoman of the leadership team.
Knopf became the Speed’s business manager in 1984 and was made the Chief Financial Officer in 2002.

An employee of the museum since 1999, Erbes presently serves as the Curator of Decorative Arts and Design.

Meanwhile, Todd Lowe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Speed Art Museum, has chartered a search committee to begin looking for a new CEO.
“While there is never a good time for as talented a leader as Charles to depart, due to his work on the master plan for the Museum and his fundraising leadership, the Speed is in an excellent position to enhance its institutional reinvigoration and expansion,” Lowe said in a press release.

According to Greg Gardiner, Director of Operations and Expansion, Venable’s departure shouldn’t have an effect on current plans for expansion and renovation.

“The expansion plan is moving forward as envisioned,” said Gardiner. “The design vision of the improvements to the museum are well planned and supported by the Board and staff, and will continued to be refined and implemented over the next few years.”

Under Venable’s leadership, the Speed has raised nearly 95% of its $50 million goal for the upcoming 200,000-square foot expansion. According to Kirsten Popp, Communications Manager at the Speed Art Museum, the remaining 5% of the funds are expected to come from private donations and community members.

“This project has been in the works for 15 years, but Venable was brought on to execute and fundraise for the project,” said Popp. “We’re now in the phase where we’re picking out the tile for the floors – just focusing on the little stuff. We’re in a position where we’re ready to move forward.”
Popp added that the new restaurants and cafes that are expected to open in the north building might potentially be outfitted to accept Cardinal Cash.
“I anticipate there to be conversations about that,” Popp said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for students to come into the museum and take advantage of all it has to offer.”

Though the museum space will be inaccessible over the next three years, the Speed has announced a concert series, scheduled to begin Sept 30 and end Feb 17. Performances from musicians such as Stephanie Blythe, Warren Jones and Conrad Tao are expected.

For more information about the Speed Art Museum expansion and the 2012-2013 concert series, visit

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