It was not happy news to hear that Rachel Miller was leaving, but it was not all that unexpected either.
Miller has been the director of the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas for the past seven years and has been doing more than just holding down the fort, as they say -- actually -- a lot more.
As the press release about her departure said, one of Miller's highest moments here was to lead a $5 million "adaptive-reuse project of two historic buildings into the arts and events facilities to complement Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas' main building."
The ARTSpace on Main and ART WORKS on Main opened in 2021 and doubled the Arts & Science Center's footprint.
While other efforts have been made to repurpose old buildings in downtown Pine Bluff, Miller actually succeeded, and in a way that is sustainable and adds purpose.
The work was also praised, receiving numerous architectural awards, including Main Street Arkansas's Outstanding Adaptive Re-Use Project in 2022 and the American Society of Interior Design South Central Chapter: Bronze Award for Adaptive Reuse the year before.
In September, the ARTx3 Campus was branded, putting all of the center's three facilities under a single identity.
Miller, of course, did a lot more than repurpose old buildings. The Arts Center has new programs each month, for the young and the mature. New art exhibits are always making their way through the space. And the stage offerings are not to be missed. In short, she is leaving big shoes to fill. To walk in any of the facilities was to get a little tingle for the unexpected and exciting experience it would bring.
Miller will now be off on a new adventure, taking the job as executive director of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History of Monterey Bay, Calif. That sounds like a delightful place, what with the Pacific Ocean in one's backyard, the aquarium, the history of John Steinbeck and all of it just down the road from San Francisco.
Her last day is Feb. 28. Perhaps you might want to pop in and tell her goodbye.
Good luck, Dr. Miller. Thanks for dropping by.