This week we lost a great friend to museums and historic preservation when Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan passed. There will be many formal tributes to Dr. Sullivan, but to most of us here in Southern Maryland he was just…. Marty. His long list of accomplishments will be told by others, but he will be remembered here as somebody who left a prestigious job in Arizona to become the Executive Director of Historic St. Mary’s City. It was under his guidance that the “city” blossomed, and he worked with St. Mary’s College to establish their Museum Studies curriculum. He brought an infectious enthusiasm to everything he did, and you couldn't help but share his passion for history. He left Historic St. Mary’s to become the Director of the National Portrait Gallery in DC.
During the time he was there, MFO successfully “won” a private small group tour of the Gallery, to be led by Marty. Great, I thought… tromp around an old building looking at dusty pictures of dead Presidents. Well, the truth was that that “tour” will stand out in my memory for a long time. Marty hosted us in his office (complete with wine, mind you), told us about the Gallery and then led us on a fascinating walk through history and American culture. He had an astonishing knowledge of all (and there are plenty!) the paintings, told stories about them, pointed out this and that, why this person was important, on and on. He didn’t lecture us, he just talked about them matter of factly. That was so typical of Marty, unassuming, just like talking to your neighbor across the fence.
So now Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan has passed into that history he cared so much about, but he will always remain in our memory as…… Marty.. Thanks for stopping by