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The Carnegie Center for Art and History is celebrating the retirement and career of Sally Newkirk with a Lunch & Learn: 30 Years at the Carnegie Center. She will share stories and express gratitude toward those that have helped her along the way. Registration is requested and can be done by contacting the Carnegie Center by phone at 812.944.7336 or by emailing Delesha Thomas at Bring a lunch, and Carnegie Center will supply beverages.

The Carnegie Center for Art and History will say goodbye to our longtime Director, Sally Newkirk, after a remarkable 30-year career. Effusive, energetic, and committed to our southern Indiana community, it is not an exaggeration to say that she has been the key individual guiding the success and growth of this small Indiana museum although her personal modesty may quibble with this!


On Sally’s Retirement:

Sally’s association with the Carnegie Center began early as a mother bringing her children to family friendly programs at the Floyd County Museum, which had formed in the city’s old Carnegie Library in 1971. Having an organization in the building was so important to preserving this grand example of architecture. Sally agreed to volunteer with the organization and when Carol Tobe, the museum’s first Director retired, Sally stepped into the Interim Director role with one caveat – She would remain on the job for a year or until a professional museum director was hired. That was back in 1988, and now it is 30 years later!

During her tenure as Director, Sally Newkirk guided the museum through several key moments. Back in 1988 the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, which still owned the Carnegie building, agreed to make the Floyd County Museum a department of the current library. This relationship has provided secure footing through the years both for this historic building and its young not for profit organization under its roof. Sally guided the staff and board as the museum gathered momentum and purpose. In 1998, Sally directed the campaign to renovate the old library into a museum and the organization changed its name to the Carnegie Center for Art and History. Beginning as a full-time staff of one, Sally has carefully grown her staff over the years to four full-time and two part-time art gallery/museum professionals serving the citizens of southern Indiana.

Among Sally’s other professional accomplishments includes bringing the less familiar stories of southern Indiana’s history to the forefront. In 1996, Sally and her team produced “Voices”, a unique exhibition documenting African American women in New Albany and southern Indiana who mentored their community. This exhibit toured the state of Indiana and currently can be seen in New Albany’s historic Division Street School. In 1996, Sally received the “Citizen’s Award” from the Indiana Council for the Social Studies for the “Voices” exhibit.

Perhaps the accomplishment that has given Sally the most satisfaction was working on the permanent Carnegie Center exhibit, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad.” Sally was part of a talented team including Pam Peters, Cynthia Torp, and Billie Davis that put this award winning permanent exhibition together and opened it in 2006. The exhibit, based upon research by Pam Peters, explores New Albany’s connections to the Underground Railroad and our area’s relationship to the institution of slavery. In 2007, for all her contributions to preserving and interpreting African-American history, Sally Newkirk received two awards. She was the first recipient of the “Anna Kathryn Hickerson Award” given by the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation and the “Community Contribution to Education” award given by Indiana University Southeast. Later the museum’s success with the Underground Railroad exhibit led to another wonderful permanent exhibit on former escaped slave and New Albany resident Lucy Higgs Nichols.

A native of New Albany, Sally Newkirk graduated from Floyd Central High School and attended Indiana University Southeast where she currently sits on their board. Civically active, Sally has been a long-time member of the New Albany Rotary Club. She has also served as the Chairperson of the One Southern Indiana Foundation and was a board member of the Arts and Cultural Attractions Council based in Louisville, KY. In 2012, Sally was inducted in Floyd Central High School’s Hall of Fame for her many outstanding contributions to our community.

Now that Sally Newkirk has helped craft the Carnegie Center for Art and History into one of our area’s most treasured cultural assets, what are her plans for retirement? Knowing Sally as we do, we don’t believe Sally will sit still for long and probably will volunteer with different area organizations. Also, along with her husband Mike, there are 14 grandchildren to introduce to the unique and vibrant cultural history of our southern Indiana. For all you have accomplished, congratulations Sally Newkirk on a job well done!


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