New executive director on Pyramid Hill

Nanci Wilks Lanni, president of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum’s board of trustees, introduced Bryan W. Knicely as its next executive director. His tenure begins September 13.

Knicely is currently executive director of the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana. He brings more than 25 years of arts administration experience to his role at Pyramid Hill, where he will lead all aspects of the organization’s operations, including curatorial oversight, administrative and financial management, fundraising, marketing, education, community engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Bryan Knicely

“We are thrilled to name Bryan Knicely as the next executive director of Pyramid Hill,” said Lanni. “He has impressive industry knowledge, and his collaborative leadership style will inspire the talent we have on our staff and board, as well as in our community. In addition, he possesses an unwavering belief that art in nature can transform lives and reinforce our shared humanity. We are confident that he will champion the park’s commitment to providing world-class art and programming, excellent visitor experiences, and accessibility for all audiences.”

Knicely’s appointment comes at a historic moment for Pyramid Hill, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2022. The park has earned a reputation as a leader among sculpture parks due to its significant acreage, unique permanent collection, commitment to inclusion and public engagement, robust environmental practices, and fiscal health. Additionally, Pyramid Hill’s 2019 acquisition of the National Register of Historic Places-listed Fortified Hill Earthworks, a 2,000-year-old Hopewell Culture hilltop enclosure in Butler County, will open next year.

Said Knicely, “It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to lead Pyramid Hill into its 25th anniversary, as the park plans major campus investments that will reimagine the visitor experience, attract new and diverse guests to the region, and encourage repeat visits. With the opening of Fortified Hill to the public, our shared goal is expansive community reach through one-of-a-kind cultural experiences and programming. This goal aligns perfectly with my life mission to provide opportunities for others to realize their creative potential through art and nature.”

Knicely will succeed Lee Knisley Sanders, Ph.D., who has served as the Park’s interim director since December 2020. Upon Knicely’s appointment in September 2021, Sanders will transition to the role of advisor. Today’s announcement concludes a nine-month national search, chaired by board member Mark Hecquet, with participation from the Park’s board and staff, and conducted in partnership with the search firm Management Consultants for the Arts.

Search Committee Chair Hecquet added, “This search was exhaustive and comprehensive in scope. I extend my warmest thanks to the hardworking and committed search committee members, board, and staff, as well as Bill Appleton and Management Consultants for Arts, for their dedication and engagement throughout the process. As a result, we believe Bryan is uniquely positioned to lead Pyramid Hill successfully into its next quarter-century of extraordinary art experiences, expansive growth, and national renown.”

About Bryan Knicely

Bryan Knicely comes to Pyramid Hill from his role as Executive Director of the Yellowstone Art Museum. He was also executive director at the Evansville Museum of Art, History & Science from 2014 to 2018, director of the Coral Springs Museum of Art from 2012 to 2014, and served as president of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives 2011-2012.

About Pyramid Hill

Pyramid Hill is a 350-acre sculpture park with nearly 80 monumental outdoor sculptures displayed in a landscape of rolling hills, meadows, lakes, and hiking trails. The Park also features an Ancient Sculpture Museum that displays Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian artwork dating to 1550 B.C. The Museum Gallery hosts exhibitions by local, regional, and national artists. Pyramid Hill is also the only museum you can experience in an Art Cart. Attracting more than 70,000 visitors in 2020, Pyramid Hill serves as the largest cultural tourist attraction in Butler County.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum was founded on 40 acres of land and one man’s vision and unwavering support. Harry T. Wilks (1925-2014) purchased the land in 1987 to build his home, the Pyramid House, and slowly began acquiring adjacent parcels of land, clearing space, building roads, hiking trails, and small lakes.

About Fortified Hill

In 2019, the 2,000-year-old Hopewell cultural site known as Fortified Hill was purchased and then donated to Pyramid Hill by the Harry T. Wilks Family Foundation. As a result, the Ohio State Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Connection presented its 2020 Award of Merit to the Foundation for preserving this rare archaeological and sacred American Indian site.

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