After a months-long national search, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum selected one of its own to lead it into a new era.
On Monday, Sarah Templeton Wilson formally began her tenure as executive director of the sprawling 350-acre campus in Hamilton, Ohio. She joined Pyramid Hill in 2021 as the park’s first development director. She assumed the role of interim executive director in June following the departure of Bryan Knicely.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue leading the Park during such an important time for Pyramid Hill and the broader arts community,” said Templeton Wilson, a longtime arts administrator with 20 years of experience in museums, performing arts and university-level teaching. She described art as an “essential element to healthy, vibrant communities.”
“From the moment I started working for the park, I knew that there was so much potential for Pyramid Hill to expand its role in the conversation of art, nature and education,” she continued. “I am very excited to continue to move the park forward with the help of my great team, our partners and the board.”
A unanimous choice
Templeton Wilson’s hiring concludes a four-month search for Pyramid Hill’s next executive director. Conducted in partnership with Clark Schaefer Strategic HR, the process was exhaustive and comprehensive in scope, according to Heather Sanderson Lewis, president of Pyramid Hill’s board of trustees.
There were 270 applicants. Chaired by board member Patty Beggs, the search process included input from other board members, staff and community leaders.
In the end, Templeton Wilson was the board’s unanimous choice, Lewis said.
“The board was looking for a candidate who embodies the key characteristics of empathy, intellect, critical thinking and unquestioned integrity. Sarah Templeton Wilson has already demonstrated these as well as her abilities as a collaborative leader, innovator, and accomplished communicator,” Lewis said.
‘Developing’ success everywhere she goes
Templeton Wilson began her development career in 2007 at Ohio University, where she also taught undergraduate courses in interdisciplinary arts. After five years in Athens, she moved to Miami University, her alma mater. During her eight years at MU, she launched an alumni and donor engagement program for the regional campuses. She also created affinity programs for alumni of the Oxford campus.
Prior to joining Pyramid Hill, Templeton Wilson served as associate director of development for the Cincinnati Ballet and played a part in the capital campaign for the construction of its Walnut HIlls facility.
Templeton Wilson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Miami and a Master of Arts in photographic preservation and collections management from what’s now known as Toronto Metropolitan University. She’s a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary arts, with an emphasis on visual and theatrical arts, from Ohio University.
“(Sarah) brings genuine passion for the arts and an unwavering belief that art in nature can transform lives and reinforce our shared humanity,” Lewis said. “We are confident that she will champion the Park’s commitment to providing excellent art and programming, memorable visitor experiences, and accessibility for all audiences.”
Carrying Pyramid Hill into a new era
As executive director, Templeton Wilson will lead all aspects of Pyramid Hill’s operations, including curatorial oversight, administrative and financial management, fundraising, marketing, education and community engagement. She’ll also oversee all diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Templeton Wilson’s appointment comes as Pyramid Hill has recently completed a long-range plan, which will culminate when the park celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2027.
Today, the park has nearly 80 outdoor sculptures displayed in a landscape of rolling hills, meadows, lakes and hiking trails. It also features several facilities, including the Pyramid House, with displays of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian artwork dating to 1550 B.C. The Museum Gallery hosts exhibitions by local, regional and national artists.
In 2019, Pyramid Hill became stewards of Fortified Hill Earthworks, a 2,000-year-old Hopewell Culture hilltop adjacent to the park. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places. Pyramid Hill plans to open it for limited public tours later this year.
Attracting more than 65,000 visitors in 2023, Pyramid Hill serves as the largest cultural tourist attraction in Butler County. And John Guidugli, president and CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation, believes those numbers are poised to grow in the near future.
“Pyramid Hill is an important community partner and having Sarah in the executive director role enhances our opportunities to strengthen that relationship and build a stronger community,” Guidugli.