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Susan MG Tissot to retire as director of Pacific Maritime Heritage Center

Tissot, who joined the Lincoln County Historical Society in 2022, says she plans to take time for family projects, hiking, and kayaking.

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Susan MG Tissot plans to retire at the end of April from a career that has included leading museums in Coos Bay, Vancouver, Wash., California, and Hawaii.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Susan MG Tissot to retire as director of Pacific Maritime Heritage Center“ was published originally on April 3, 2024, by YachatsNews.com, an ArtsWatch Community Partner. ArtsWatch is republishing the piece with permission.

After a 35-year career leading five museums in four states, Susan MG Tissot announced this week she is retiring as executive director of the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center and Lincoln County Historical Society.

Tissot headed the Lincoln County Historical Society under a two-year contract, which ends April 30. Board chair Bud Shoemake said the board had hoped to extend Tissot’s contract for another year, but Tissot wanted to retire.

Shoemake said the board is negotiating with Jeff Syrop, its collections specialist and former head of the North Lincoln County Historical Museum in Lincoln City, to become executive director.

Both Shoemake and Tissot said the historical society’s programs are strong and its museums healthy both physically and financially.

“We’re in good shape,” Shoemake told YachatsNews. “We were very happy with Susan and I think she was happy with us. But she wanted to retire and this is kind of the next step with Jeff.”

Tissot joined the historical society in 2022 coming from a post as executive director of the Coos History Museum in Coos Bay. Her previous positions included executive director of the Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation in Eureka, Calif., 11 years leading the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Wash., and in Hilo, Hawaii, where she led the creation of the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

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“It’s time for me to take time” for family projects, hiking and kayaking, Tissot said in a news release announcing her decision.

Describing herself as “one scrappy museum professional,” Tissot admits she’s likely to have trouble “practicing the art of letting go.”  During her career, Tissot is credited with the creation of a new museum and re-energizing and revitalizing three others.

In her two years with the Lincoln County Historical Society, she helped raise the organization’s profile in Oregon, oversaw the completion of the maritime center’s mezzanine gallery, and raised funds for the multipurpose meeting room near the Doerfler Family Theater. She guided the organization into the post-pandemic world and brought back the popular Crab Krack fundraising dinner auction. Under her guidance, the museum hosted nine exhibit changes and just in time for Spring Break, she oversaw the reopening of the 1895 Burrows House museum.

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