Year-end Letter from our Board Chair

Dear Friends,

This is a very different year-end letter than I intended to write. On December 3, I received a text from Arthur Pearson, RTPI’s Chief Executive Officer:

“FYI, fire at RTPI. Under control.
Everyone safe. Will update you when I can.”

Racing to RTPI, letting slip a few expletives, I couldn’t help but wonder, what next? COVID. Our beautiful building closed for months. The loss of 70% of our revenues. A year that simply needs to end. And now this!

The good news is, no one was hurt. The fire, likely due to a faulty lighting fixture, was extinguished quickly, resulting in no substantive damage to the building exterior. The Peterson Collection is safe, too, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of staff and the emergency crew. However, there is extensive water damage throughout the interior of the building.

Where the fire started — a malfunctioning light fixture in the attic

First Covid, followed by the fire – does this spell the end of RTPI?

From this board member’s perspective, absolutely not. Despite all that has happened, I feel confident about the future of this institution. RTPI’s future has never looked brighter.

My confidence lies in our CEO, Arthur Pearson. Since starting his job in mid-March, he has navigated us through not one, but two crises. Under his leadership, we spent much of the year engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process. In my five years on this board, I’ve never seen a more engaged and talented group of board members, a more hard working staff – all collectively focused on reimagining RTPI to match the legacy of Roger Tory Peterson.

Assistant Curator Jane Johnson and board chair Doug Schutte rescue film stock from the Peterson Collection

My confidence lies in our new strategic plan. The final draft, which we plan to roll out in early 2021, will launch RTPI on an exciting three-year trajectory that will channel education and conservation through the lens of our museum – including new onsite programs, a dynamic online presence, and world class exhibitions of Art that Matters to the Planet.

Most of all, my confidence lies in you, our friends and supporters. You have helped us through an unprecedented year of challenges.

However, one more challenge awaits us – one we relish. An anonymous donor has offered RTPI a $100,000 challenge grant. To date we are halfway toward meeting our goal. Every dollar you donate in our year-end campaign will be matched, effectively doubling your gift. Please join me in supporting RTPI to put the challenges of this year behind us and move into the bright future that lies ahead.

Please click “Support our Work” below to make your online contribution today. Or, if you’d prefer, you may send a check to our mailing address, also listed below.
Blessings to you this holiday season and thank you for your generosity.


Douglas L. Schutte, Board Chair
Roger Tory Peterson Institute