THOMASTON, Maine — Knox Museum has named Tobin Malone acting executive director effective Nov. 1. Board of Trustees co-chairman and up until this announcement Interim Executive Director David Farmer announced Malone’s promotion following executive committee recommendation and board approval in late October.
Malone began her tenure at The General Henry Knox Museum in February 2011 as assistant to then executive director Ellen Dyer, who retired one year ago after a decade with the organization. Shortly before Dyer’s departure the Museum’s education director moved away and was not replaced, and shortly afterwards the Museum’s collections manager was deployed to Guantanamo, leaving Malone a staff of one.
Trustee Howard Lowell, brought in for a 6 month stint as Interim Executive Director, promoted Malone to Director of Programming & Marketing, and the rest, as they say, is history. In short order The General Henry Knox Museum rebranded itself as “Knox Museum, very revolutionary;” pivoted from operating primarily as overseer of an historic house museum to that of an increasingly active partner in the local community; and scheduled an ambitious year of new and improved programming.
Honoring the legacy of Henry and Lucy Knox and their well-documented love of entertaining, Knox Museum threw open its doors in 2013, rolled out the welcome mat, and invited everyone in town to take another look at Montpelier, the big white house at the turn to Saint George in Thomaston, and discover for themselves if something special wasn’t being planned for that upcoming holiday weekend, or when school let out and the kids needed something different to do, or when out-of-state company was coming to visit expecting to see the sites. Chances were in 2013, Malone having been given free rein to create some new Museum-sponsored community events and breathe life into some old ones, that a big tent was going up somewhere on Montpelier’s 10-acre grounds, that spits and grills and ovens were being fired up and the big buffet table dragged out and dusted off for company, and that a great band was busy tuning up over in the corner, everybody gearing up for the next big event.
In May Malone built upon the success of 2012’s inaugural Boots on the Ground, the first program she’d initiated at Knox Museum, to continue General Knox’s new Memorial Day weekend tradition of honoring America’s military men and women, in collaboration with Commander Ronald A. Rainfrette, Shirley and Ralph Cline and Kinney-Melquist American Le-gion Post 34, and Jim Barstow and the Tenants Harbor Masons. In June she christened Midsummer at the Museum, a brand new 2-day event created with the help of Finnish Heritage House friends and neighbors Peggy Oliver and Ron Anderson to celebrate the traditional Finnish Juhannus celebration. Larry Oakes of Automaster in Spruce Head roasted a pig for the occasion, Anderson built a traditional bonfire, and Thomaston’s Peter Lammert set off the evening’s fireworks display. In July, Malone built upon a longstanding partnership with Thomaston Historical Society for marking General Henry Knox’s birthday with a graveside ceremony at Village Cemetery and a brief reception, to create a full-blown birthday party celebration for kids of all ages on the grounds of Montpelier called Cut the Cake! with music, stories, games, lunch, and a giant birthday cake and ice cream for all.
In August Malone created KNOXFEST, a celebration of summer with steel drum band entertainment, chicken barbeque, and ice cream social, topped off with an outdoor screening in conjunction with Camden Library of the film “The Crossing,” about George Washington and Henry Knox crossing the Delaware and winning the seminal Revolutionary War battle of Trenton. September brought At Henry’s Table, a brand new 18th-century educational meal experience with food historian Sandra Oliver. And most recently this past month on Columbus Day weekend, Malone unveiled her latest creation, Taste of Thomaston, a food and wine festival featuring the work of 30 local chefs, winemakers, and food artisans – plus the Thomaston Farmers Market – and attracted well over 500 people to the celebration on Montpelier’s grounds.
“I kept looking at this glorious 10-acre property, thinking how underused it was,” says Malone, by way of explanation for what inspired her. “When all the time there are families and groups and various organizations looking for venues and spaces and activities, and I thought, there are some serious resources here – land, a magnificent building, one of the most visible locations around. And everybody seems to have some kind of connection to this place. One person leads to another, and then somebody has a great idea, and pretty soon the whole place is humming. It’s fantastic. Henry would have loved it!”
Malone clearly loves it, too. She raves about the support she’s had from the Museum’s board and volunteers, two exceptional summer interns, everyone in Thomaston, and all kinds of people up and down the St. George and Cushing peninsulas. A Maine girl, Malone’s lived many places across the country, and abroad. She graduated high school from Lincoln School in Providence, attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, received her B.A. from Antioch College in Ohio, and completed a graduate program in film directing at American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
Prior to signing on with Knox Museum, Malone was Sales Manager for Jaret & Cohn Real Estate, Director of Sales for Leucadia National’s Brewster Point in Rockport and Northeast Point on Islesboro, Senior Vice-President at Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Camden, and owner of her own local agency, Watermark. She also served as President of the Maine Association of Realtors and was active at the national level in Washington, DC.
On the creative side of her resume Malone served as Artistic Director of the Belfast Maskers and stage director at Camden Civic Theater and Northport Music Theater, performed throughout Europe with The Living Theatre, and had half a dozen original plays professionally produced across the country.
Currently residing in a Rockland Main Street loft, Malone spends increasingly more time at her Cole House office next to Montpelier. With school tours still to organize, a new web site currently in design, Montpelier’s Holiday Open House coming up in December, and a whole new year of events and programs to plan and organize – including Seven Days in May, a brand new weeklong conference she’s dreamed up that examines whether or not democracy still works, and for which she is currently seeking sponsorship – Malone definitely has her work cut out for her.
If recent history is any indication, and Malone has anything to say about it, many of you reading this will probably find yourselves and your families involved in some kind of activity at Montpelier in the upcoming season. Malone says Knox Museum genuinely welcomes community input and involvement, and in the spirit of namesake Henry Knox, their door is always open. Malone can be reached by calling 354-8062, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, connecting with Knox Museum on Facebook, or simply dropping by her office to say hello.