Director leaves museum in excellent condition

Laura Foster, executive director at the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, looks at a new piece at the museum in 2016. Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — For more than 30 years, Laura Foster has served the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg.

Ms. Foster has brought ceaseless dedication to the museum, which is a robust and critically important arts institution in our region. As she begins a richly deserve retirement, the trustees of the museum wish to publicly congratulate Ms. Foster and thank her for her tireless service to our institution.

Ms. Foster was appointed executive director at the museum in December 2013. She had previously worked as curator and in various other roles after joining the museum’s staff in October 1989.

A native of Potsdam, Ms. Foster returned to the north country after earning her degree at the College of Wooster in Ohio. When another art professional turned the museum down for the curator’s role, Ms. Foster raised her hand and offered her services. Her hiring has been a blessing for the museum across the entirety of her 31 years of service.

As curator, Ms. Foster immediately set to work to better understand Frederic Remington’s expertise and strengths as an illustrator, painter and sculptor. In so doing, she has become one of the leading Remington experts not only in the United States but across the globe.

In her years as curator, the museum’s galleries greatly expanded — as did our collection. Ms. Foster became an advocate for the museum’s collection and through her networking skills, saw to it that portions of our collection have been shared in art exhibitions around the country and the world.

Since becoming the museum’s executive director in 2013, Ms. Foster has further stabilized revenues and the museum’s budget, oversaw the restoration of the historic Parish mansion that is the core of the museum’s facility in Ogdensburg and, perhaps most importantly, continued to build relationships within the American art community and secured the museum’s place as a leading arts and cultural institution in Northern New York. Her work to build relationships in our region’s thriving arts community — as well as in western and American art circles around the country and the world — has been remarkable. We are deeply appreciative for all that she has done to tell the story of one of the north country’s most famous sons and the magnificent works of art he created in his lifetime.

In addition, Ms. Foster has led recent projects to digitize the many and diverse pieces of the museum’s vast collection of Remington’s work including his many sketchbooks and thousands of drawings. As Ms. Foster departs, the museum is readying a new permanent exhibit dedicated to Ogdensburg’s other remarkable sculptor, Sally James Farnham.

“Beauty and Strength: The Life and Work of American Sculptor Sally James Farnham” will showcase the largest collection of Farnham’s work in the nation.

Ms. Foster has led the execution of a five-year strategic plan and the launch of the museum’s most recent comprehensive campaign. This fundraising will culminate with the institution’s centennial in 2023.

Finally, Ms. Foster has led the museum’s talented staff through the challenges of the novel coronavirus pandemic in her last year of service. We applaud that leadership and her talented team who have sustained our beloved museum in these challenging times.

As Ms. Foster departs, we are pleased to welcome Lora Nadolski Hanson as our fifth executive director since the independent incorporation of the Frederic Remington Art Museum in 1981. Ms. Nadolski Hanson, an alumna of St. Lawrence University, previously served the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton in educational and curatorial roles and comes to the Remington from the Tahoe Maritime Museum in Truckee, Calif.; we look forward to welcoming Ms. Nadolski Hanson in Ogdensburg on Dec. 1.

Now, though, the board of trustees of the Frederic Remington Art Museum wishes to formally acknowledge and thank Ms. Foster for her decades of service to the Frederic Remington Art Museum. We wish her our very best for a long, healthy and happy retirement.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum has been very fortunate to have Laura Foster leading us for the past seven and a half years as our executive director. Her retirement finds the museum financially sound, making great progress on its five-year strategic plan, expanding its exhibitions and well positioned to carry out its mission of expanding and deepening appreciation and understanding of Remington’s work and keeping his legacy relevant.

Craig Chevalier is president of the Frederic Remington Art Museum’s board of trustees. He wrote this on behalf of his fellow board members and officers.

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