ESSEX, CT — Christopher I. Dobbs has been named Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum. For the past nine years, Dobbs has been the Executive Director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. During his tenure, Dobbs led efforts to restore the Webster House, which is a National Landmark building, and reinvigorate its exhibits. He also developed many innovative public programs, including “Tavern Nights”, “Webster’s War of the Words” a word game show featuring Connecticut celebrities, and “West Hartford Hauntings,” a popular historical program that was held in cemeteries. Under his leadership, the Webster House won several awards for its exhibits, and the museum received several significant grants. The museum’s attendance and its number of volunteers increased, and membership grew by 40 percent. Dobbs also helped lead a capital campaign that raised $1.2 million, 20 percent more than its goal.
“Chris Dobbs is a seasoned and innovative museum professional who has a proven track record as a museum leader who can inspire community engagement,” said Peter Prichard, chair of the Connecticut River Museum. “He is also a very versatile and talented manager. We were fortunate to be able to hire him and we expect great things under his leadership.”
Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director of the Museum who has served as interim director since July, said: “Next year is the Museum’s 40th Birthday so this is the perfect time for fresh ideas and renewed energy and Chris Dobbs brings both to this maturing institution. He’s an experienced museum professional, well-grounded in history who will help us recommit to the public service and educational standards of our mission.”
Dobbs said “I am looking forward to taking the helm of the Connecticut River Museum and working with its Board, staff, and community to expand the museum’s reach and cultural impact.” He went on to say that “The museum has a critical mission to preserve, document, and engage thousands of visitors each year with New England’s most significant, and in my opinion, most beautiful inland waterway.”
Dobbs, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, which is a joint project of the State University College of New York and the New York Historical Society. He now serves on the board of the Cooperstown Alumni Association. Dobbs began his career in history museums as an intern when he was still in college in the mid-1990s. In 1998 he joined Mystic Seaport, where he served as Supervisor of Special Interpretative Programs, including the Lantern Light Tours, before being promoted to Associate Director of Education. For the past six years, he has also served as a Peer Advisor to museum and non-profit leaders for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assisting non-profits around the state with strategic planning, development and program creation.
In his spare time, Dobbs enjoys woodworking and recently restored an antique boat. He is married to Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education of the Connecticut River Museum. The couple has two children and they live in Deep River.