Mavens, we now have a powerful woman in charge at Newfields, and the Indy art scene is better for it. Leading an organization comes with great responsibility, but leadership also allows the space for new opportunities and exhilarating growth. As the President and CEO of Newfields, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette said she is most excited to see the museum reclaim its space as a cultural institution, as well as branch out into all communities.
While she may be newer to the organization, one thing Dr. Pierce Burnette knows by heart is the Newfields mission, which is “to enrich lives through exceptional experiences with art and nature.”
Following a PR crisis and a new definition of what a museum is from the International Council of Museums, Dr. Pierce Burnette believes in taking advantage of these opportunities to truly create a more inclusive space. To help do so, she is immersing herself in the community to listen and learn.
“I want Newfields to be a template organization for enriching all lives through exceptional experiences,” Dr. Pierce Burnette said.
Growing up in Cleveland, Dr. Pierce Burnette’s mother would take her and her sister to all of the museums on vacations, and that exposure sparked an interest and curiosity about art.
An engineer by trade, followed by a career in higher education, Dr. Pierce Burnette is used to being in spaces where she is one of the only women, or only black woman, and she has dedicated her life to not being the “only” anymore.
“Young black people and young people of color don’t need to be saved. They need to be exposed and they need to have opportunities. It’s humbling for me to be in a role that I can navigate what a large cultural anchor this cultural institution can be, to assure that we are doing it for all audiences,” Dr. Pierce Burnette said.
Looking back on her life, Dr. Pierce Burnette believes that every experience she has had, even those moments as a child visiting museums, was preparing her for this moment to lead at Newfields.
Currently in the planning phases, the Newfields’ team plans to go back to its roots — while also focusing on what’s new — to celebrate the anniversary of 140 years of existence. Expect an exciting series of events ranging from a tribute to founder May Wright Sewall to a celebration of monumental moments in Newfields’ history, such as the gifting of the Lilly House.
It seems evident that Dr. Pierce Burnette is poised to have a positive impact on Newfields, and it will be exciting to see her influence as time passes.
Jalysa King is Indy Maven’s Sales Maven as well as a freelance writer in Indianapolis who loves all things healthcare, education, and storytelling.