Dr. Laurie Ossman Joins Newport Preservation Society

The Preservation Society of Newport County is pleased to announce the appointment of Laurie Ossman, Ph.D. as its new Director of Museum Affairs. Dr. Ossman is currently a Research Historian for the Smithsonian Institution’s forthcoming History of America in 101 Objects.  She was previously the Director of Woodlawn and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, Historic Sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Alexandria, Virginia. She has also held curatorial positions at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, and the Maryland Historical Society.

“This is an exceptional appointment for the Preservation Society,” said CEO & Executive Director Trudy Coxe. “Dr. Ossman brings both intellectual rigor and down-to-earth museum experience to this critical leadership position. We are excited to add her breadth of museum experience and academic achievement to the leadership of our combined museum affairs activities.”

The Director of Museum Affairs provides vision and leadership on curatorial, conservation, research and educational initiatives at the Preservation Society’s 11 historic houses, seven of them National Historic Landmarks, which range in date from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries. With a collection of 55,000 objects comprised of fine and decorative arts, photographs, prints and drawings displayed within landmark period houses, the Preservation Society attracts more than 800,000 visitors annually, making it one of the largest cultural organizations in New England.

“Newport inspired me to study architectural history, and I am honored by the opportunity to pursue my passion for the history, beauty and cultural legacy of this extraordinary place,” said Dr. Ossman. “I am thrilled to join the staff of The Preservation Society of Newport County, a longstanding leader in the preservation, scholarship, and interpretation of historic sites, and look forward to working with my colleagues, the trustees and stakeholders in the community.”

Dr. Ossman graduated with honors from Brown University, then earned her Master’s degree in Architectural History from the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (UVA), followed by her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, also from UVA. She has taught the history of American architecture and urban planning, and has lectured and written extensively on architectural history, design and preservation, most recently Carrere and Hastings: The Masterworks, with Heather Ewing (Rizzoli, 2011), and Great Houses of the South (Rizzoli, 2010).  While director of Woodlawn, she initiated a major research project into its mid-nineteenth century history, including its role as an experimental farm using free black labor and as a contested territory between Union and Confederate lines in the Civil War, and re-envisioned the site through a partnership with a local restaurant group.

“The Preservation Society prides itself in the quality of its research and scholarship in history, design and preservation, and Dr. Ossman brings stellar credentials that will help us to continue our leadership in those areas,” added Donald O. Ross, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts.   Its eleven historic sites include the Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, The Elms, and Marble House.

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