AAM Statement on the Passing of Martin Sullivan, Issued by President Ford W. Bell

The international museum field lost one of its greatest contributors February 25th with the passing of Marty Sullivan. Marty’s tireless efforts to advance museum standards and ethics may be unrivaled. Certainly AAM never had a better friend, nor a more devoted and tireless supporter and volunteer. Throughout his distinguished 35-year museum career, in which he led seven museums or museum organizations, including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Marty also served 12 years on the Accreditation Commission (including six years as chair), was vice-chair of the AAM board, on which he served 13 years and was a dedicated peer reviewer for AAM’s excellence programs. Internationally, he served with the ICOM-US board and chaired the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, during which he drew the world’s attention to the looting of antiquities associated with the Iraq war. He was also widely respected for his role in the creation of NAGPRA. Yet for all his accomplishments, he remained just plain “Marty.” If any museum professional referred to “Marty,” all of us knew instantly whom they were talking about.

But much, much more than this, Marty Sullivan was always a voice of reason amid turmoil, wisdom when emotions ran high, and vision when that rare quality was lacking. Marty’s legacy rests in the way we all do our work, day in and day out, for he shaped our standards and practices and approach to doing business, while inspiring for us all an unflagging devotion to his—and our—noble cause.

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