Christina Shutt, executive director of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock, has been announced as the new executive director for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
Shutt, who has led the Mosaic Templars since 2016 and is the first person of color to lead the ALPLM, was unanimously approved March 5 by the organization’s Board of Trustees following a nationwide search. She is the fifth executive director in the Illinois museum and educational center’s history.
“I’m absolutely thrilled by this,” Shutt told Arkansas Money & Politics. “I’ll be sad to leave Arkansas but am absolutely thrilled to be able to call Illinois home soon.”
Shutt came to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center following a stint as Associate Librarian for Special Collections and Instruction at Hendrix College in Conway. Her leadership provided a stabilizing force for the Mosiac Templars and also helped the museum achieve national accreditation, making it only the ninth Black culture museum in the United States to earn such a designation.
Shutt, who holds two master’s degrees, one in history and the other in library science/archives management from Simmons University, said she is most excited about increasing the diversity of voices and viewpoints related to the museum. Nationally, only four percent of museums are led by a person of color, which she sees as a profound opportunity.
“The thing that makes me the most excited about the job is that it’s very clear that the staff, the board, the community really want to move forward to open up the museum and the stories,” she said. “As we have been doing at Mosaic Templars, I’ve been about shining light on those untold stories and making the invisible visible. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
“It’s not very often that a presidential library or a museum of this caliber would say we want to focus on diversity, inclusion and accessibility. The board has already made that commitment and my hiring is really a reinforcement of that.”
Governor JB Pritzker praised Shutt’s selection, saying in a press release statement, “Illinois is elated to welcome Christina Shutt and her family to Springfield.”
“A barrier-breaker in her own right, Christina comes to the ALPLM with formidable experience in lifting up historically marginalized voices and ensuring they are heard and understood in the greater American narrative,” the governor said. “Abraham Lincoln’s legacy is not only a critical piece of comprehending our nation’s past; but also in understanding how to navigate our future.”
“I have every faith in Christina as the best person to guide ALPLM forward and help make the life and legacy of Lincoln more accessible to all Illinoisans. We are proud that she has chosen to call Illinois home.”
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.
Shutt, 34, takes over the reins of her new role there June 8.