Baltimore Museum of Industry director to step down

October 07, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Museum of Industry, a rising Inner Harbor attraction where attendance has increased over the past two years, is losing its leader. Executive Director Paul Cypher will resign tomorrow to begin work as a consultant for two nonprofit organizations in Rochester, N.Y.

"This is for family reasons," said Cypher, who has led the museum since December 2002. "I'm from Rochester, and my wife and I realized that we really miss living near our parents and siblings."

Cypher, 38, is leaving less than five months after the museum's finance director, Samuel T. Mercer, was arrested on charges of stealing more than $323,000 from the museum. Mercer has said he was guilty of only sloppy accounting practices. His trial is scheduled for Nov. 3 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Cypher said his decision was not related to Mercer's arrest. He postponed his resignation to make sure the museum was able to recover from the missing donation money, he said.

"We're doing well," he said yesterday.

During Cypher's nearly two years on the job, attendance at the museum has increased 18 percent, to more than 150,000 visitors a year. This month, the museum will open an interactive exhibit on the paint industry. In the spring, a transportation exhibit will open.

"We appreciate Paul's excellent contributions, especially in helping to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that will advance the museum into the future," said Edward Novak, chairman of the museum's board.

The Museum of Industry, which opened in 1979, displays innovations and artifacts from manufacturing businesses in Maryland. A national search to find Cypher's replacement has begun.

In Rochester, Cypher will be a consultant for Sisters of St. Joseph's Foundation and St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center -- organizations that run schools and soup kitchens, and offer health care assistance to the uninsured.

Cypher said he and his wife, Lanette, and two young children had grown to enjoy Maryland but that the draw of home was too strong.

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