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George Washington’s Mount Vernon Appoints New Executive Director of Historic Preservation and Collections

MOUNT VERNON, VA— After an extensive national search, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) has selected Mount Vernon’s Robert H. Smith Senior Curator, Susan P. Schoelwer, as its new Executive Director of Historic Preservation and Collections.  In this role, she will oversee the preservation and research of Mount Vernon’s historic core, landscape, and world-renowned museum collections while fulfilling the longstanding preservation mission of the MVLA. Schoelwer will be responsible for maintaining the estate’s historical accuracy and for prioritizing work so that all of Mount Vernon’s cultural resources are preserved.

“Susan brings a rich and learned background of curatorial expertise and a gracious collegial spirit to this position,” said Mount Vernon Regent Sarah Coulson. “As the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association endeavors to preserve and protect this unique historic site, we will be guided by Susan and her team to advance our strong legacy of scholarly preservation and curatorial work for generations to come.”

Schoelwer served as Mount Vernon’s curator from 2010 to 2014 and the Robert H. Smith Curator from 2014 to 2018. A few highlights of her career at Mount Vernon include directing the award-winning exhibition Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon; overseeing the reinstallations of the New Room, Blue Room, Chintz Room, and greenhouse slave quarters; and directing the exhibitions Gardens & Groves: George Washington’s Landscape at Mount Vernon and Take Note! George Washington the Reader. She has authored and presented many scholarly papers related to her work.

Prior to her time at Mount Vernon, Schoelwer directed the museum collections at the Connecticut Historical Society for 11 years. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she holds a M.A. in Early American Culture from the Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, the premier American Studies program in the country.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with Susan closely as we take up the challenge of restoring and preserving Mount Vernon to the highest possible standards and affirming our leadership in the field,” said Mount Vernon president Dr. Doug Bradburn.  “The next great period of preservation and education at Mount Vernon will strengthen the foundations of Washington’s beloved and iconic estate for future generations.”

Since the 1850s, the MVLA has been a leader of historic preservation in the United States, maintaining the home and estate of Washington to the highest standards and establishing the model of whole place preservation while pioneering historic collections management and interpretation.  

Mount Vernon is one of the best preserved, complete, and most carefully documented 18th-century sites in the world with 16 original 18th-century structures including the iconic mansion house, as well as 12 reconstructions and 5 replica structures. Mount Vernon also has an irreplaceable and world-renowned collection of fine and decorative art owned by or related to George and Martha Washington and their family, as well as period pieces similar to documented Mount Vernon objects.  


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