The newly appointed interim director of the USS Kidd Veterans Museum began his job Monday, following the museum’s two previous directors who faced some criticism and financial problems during their tenures.
The Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission recently named Mark A. Tullos Jr. as interim director of the Louisiana Naval War Memorial, which includes the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial & Museum. The memorial’s former director, Alex Juan, unexpectedly stepped down from her job earlier this month.
Tullos has been the director of multiple art museums in Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Most recently, he was director of the nine-facility Louisiana State Museum system.
“I look forward to working with the staff and volunteers as we meet present and future challenges for this great museum and memorial,” Tullos said in a statement. “I cannot imagine a more important time to come on board than on the eve of Memorial Day and our upcoming 4th of July celebration.”
Tullos is a Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate. He conducted graduate work at Stephen F. Austin University.
A committee has been formed to search for a permanent replacement for Juan. In an interview after she announced she was stepping down, Juan was vague on her reasons for leaving. During her tenure, she won praise for introducing programs for veterans and families but also led the museum during years of lackluster fundraising and financial concerns.
The year after Juan took over, the museum had to cancel its popular Fourth of July fireworks celebration. She also inherited problems from her predecessor, Maury Drummond, who the Inspector General’s Office accused of spending thousands of dollars on expenses that could not be backed up with receipts or were outright illegal.
The Legislative Auditor also said Drummond failed to pay more than $300,000 in insurance premiums. Juan had said the museum had started to pay back money it owed, despite fundraising problems.
Drummond died in late April.
“We are very fortunate to have Mark join us,” Commission Chairman Henson Moore said in a statement. “His experience in museum management is just what we need at this point in our history and in our plans for the future.”