Coastal Discovery Museum appoints new CEO

Rex Garniewicz
Rex Garniewicz Submitted photo

The deputy director of a San Diego anthropology museum will take over as president and chief executive officer of the Coastal Discovery Museum next month.

Rex Garniewicz, Ph.D., will take over as CEO July 1, the museum has announced. He will replace the retiring Michael Marks.

Garniewicz is moving to the Coastal Discovery Museum from the San Diego Museum of Man, where he had worked for more than two years, Coastal Discovery Museum spokeswoman Robin Swift said.

Marks announced his retirement in December after 12 years overseeing the museum at Honey Horn on Hilton Head Island. A national search by a New York firmthat specializes in museum recruitment began in January and attracted more than 100 candidates, Swift said.

Garniewicz previously served as a strategic planning consultant, chief operating officer, and deputy director at the San Diego Museum of Man. After he created new community outreach and exhibition programs, attendance revenue increased 60 percent the following year, according to a release announcing Marks' hire.

In addition to his service at the Museum of Man, Garniewicz served on the American Alliance of Museums Curators Committee, worked in Kyrgyzstan on a U.S. State Department project to help preserve the country's cultural heritage and was a lecturer for the Seminar for Historical Administration, the release said.

"I'm honored to have this opportunity to lead the Coastal Discovery Museum and to build upon their successful programs and exhibitions," Garniewicz said in a statement. "I instantly fell in love with the beauty of Honey Horn and have been tremendously impressed by the commitment of the Museum's board of directors, talented staff, and tireless volunteers."

Once Garniewicz takes over on July 1, Marks will stay on for two weeks to help with the transition, Swift said. Those two weeks will bring to an end to a 30-year career in the museum field for Marks.

Although the decision to step away was not easy, it was the "right moment" to retire, Marks said Tuesday. He said he and his wife have some post-retirement plans, but he won't be leaving the area.

"I'll be hanging out here for a while," he said. "I couldn't think of a better place to live."

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