Published February 25. 2014 1:00PM Updated February 25. 2014 11:57PM
D. Samuel Quigley has been named the new director of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, coming from the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is vice president for collections management and chief information officer.
Quigley will begin at the New London museum on May 5.
He follows Nancy Stula, who resigned in May of last year to take over as executive director of the William Benton Museum of Art in Storrs.
Quigley, 61, said that he's been an admirer of the Lyman Allyn and that he thinks "it's a wonderful museum of stature."
He sees the Lyman Allyn's collection as one of its great assets. So, too, is its size and personality. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art or other large museums, a visitor can't see it all; it can be daunting, he said.
On the other hand, he said, the Lyman Allyn "has the characteristics of these great museums — it's got a great encyclopedic collection, but it's displayed in a way that is very personal. I feel it gives you the opportunity to have a great experience, a real thorough experience ... I really want to augment that and push it forward for our visitors."
As for becoming Lyman Allyn director, he said, "I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled with the possibilities. It's like coming home, in a lot of ways."
Quigley, who was born in upstate New York, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Wesleyan University in Middletown. He and his wife, Marguerite, bought a house in Old Lyme in 2011, with the idea of that becoming their future home. The future, with this job, just happened sooner than they anticipated.
Quigley spent 30 years working in Boston. He was curator of musical instruments and associate curator of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After that, he directed the Harvard University Art Museums' collections management and technology operations.
In 2006, he moved to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he supervised the art installation for the Modern Wing. He was responsible for the departments of museum registration, imaging, and digital information and access. That latter department uses technology to engage audiences and to present the collection electronically. He also oversaw the development of several apps, orientation videos and a set of family learning interactive games.
"I've had a wonderful career. I've been very fortunate to have worked in a lot of great museums — world-class museums, really — and I have played a number of different roles. I've always enjoyed them, and I've learned a great deal," Quigley said. "But I've accumulated a lot of experiences. I wanted to bring it to sort of a culmination by giving all that I have to a museum I really respect."
Quigley wants to engage the community more in various ways — with membership drives, perhaps, or evening adult education. He said he'd like to think creatively about ways the Lyman Allyn can be more of a valued institution and a welcoming place for a broad spectrum of the community.
He'd like to use the Lyman Allyn's grounds and gardens more, too.
Quigley hopes to work with elected officials and with various institutions in the region — from Mystic Seaport to the Florence Griswold Museum to the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center — to bolster cultural tourism in the area.
"We can bring in a lot of cultural dollars into the region if we can present a united front and show off what the region has in terms of remarkable cultural resources and attractions," he said.
Polly Merrill, who is president of the Lyman Allyn's board of trustees, said in a statement, "We are thrilled that Mr. Quigley will be the new Director of Lyman Allyn Art Museum. Sam is globally recognized for his many contributions to the arts with a history of leading other notable museums into new areas of excellence and engagement. He will forge exciting new cultural and educational partnerships between the Lyman Allyn and Southeastern Connecticut in general, New London in particular."