The museum's governing board has selected Steven Radtke as the new director.
“We are looking forward with great anticipation to working with Steve,” Museum Board Chairwoman Nancy Solon said.
Radtke has served as interim director of the museum for the past four months. He had previously worked for the museum for nine years, mostly serving as the curator of exhibits. He earned a degree at Central Michigan University.
According to museum leadership, Radtke was selected after an extensive search from a field of 20 applicants from around the country. Solon said the competition was narrowed down to between Radtke and a female candidate from Illinois.
“When it came down to the final two, it was a difficult decision for us," Solon said.
Solon said she wouldn’t reveal the name of any of the other applicants, including the second finalist.
Solon also said that they haven't finalized compensation details for Radtke.
Based on financial documents filed by the museum for the IRS in 2010, the director at the time made $66,824 a year.
Given Radtke’s history at the museum, Solon said that the hire should mean a smooth, seamless transition.
“I think the board has seen a tremendous amount of growth in Steve during the four and a half months that he has been the interim director,” she said. “... I think the staff is pleased, and I know Steve is pleased. We’re looking forward to going forward with him for many years.”
Former Museum Director Dennis Swartout said he had originally hired Radtke nearly 10 years ago and found that he did a good job for the museum during the time that they worked together. Swartout was the museum's director from 2000 until he retired in 2011.
"(Radtke) has a solid museum background, both from an academic as well as a time-on-the-job perspective,” Swartout said. “I'm certain he'll do a fine job, and I wish him nothing but the best in his role as museum director."
Radtke was unavailable for comment.
Radtke replaces Kenneth Pott, who was dismissed earlier this year after less than two years at the helm. Pott came to Grand Haven after serving as the director of the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph.
“He brought some good things to the museum,” Solon said of Pott, adding that they mutually agreed to part ways.
Pott's departure followed a tenure that was filled with criticism from people in the community. Some of the complaints levied against him from community members — including Swartout — included poor management skills, lack of interest or skills in organizing the museum's annual Feast of the Strawberry Moon historical re-enactment event, and not keeping the museum’s facilities in tip-top condition.