Peoria Riverfront Museum welcomes new CEO amid struggles

By Audrey Wise

December 4, 2013 Updated Dec 4, 2013 at 7:41 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- After a rough first year, the Peoria Riverfront Museum is looking for a fresh start. A new President and CEO has taken over, after a sudden departure of Jim Richerson several months ago.

Sam Gappmayer has only been at the museum a few days, but already he has a favorite area.

"I imagine I'm going to spend quite a bit of time in the planetarium," he said.

Gappmayer most recently served as President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

He comes to the museum amid financial trouble. Something he says he will have a leading role in correcting.

"I'm looking very specifically at opportunities there and there are many opportunities for us to develop with regards to both our earned income potential and our contributed potential," said Gappmayer.

Museum officials have also been working to boost attendance.

Gappmayer said he is ready to tackle that hurdle as well, "I think there is huge potential for some very creative programming here, given the mixed disciplines of history, art, science and achievement."

Peoria County Board Member Brad Harding was against the museum's funding in the beginning. However, he hopes this change of leadership will help make the museum an asset to the community.

"I think it's time to settle the dust and let's move forward and see if we can't make our museum something that we're not only proud of here locally, but regionally," said Harding.

Gappmayer said he truly believes all the pieces for success are at the museum and he adds if you still have doubts come down to the museum and check it out for yourself.