St. Mary’s College mourns the loss of Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan, 70, who died Feb. 25, 2014 at his residence in Piney Point, Md. Sullivan was the former director of both the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and Historic St. Mary’s City of Maryland, and was also a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. He was well known in the museum field and the recipient of a number of professional honors including recognition on the American Association of Museum’s Centennial Honor Roll in 2006. He was most recently bestowed the American Alliance of Museum’s 2014 Award for Distinguished Service to Museums.
At St. Mary’s College, Sullivan was an adjunct history professor, the founding director of the museum studies program, and a steady partner in forging joint programs in the Maryland Heritage Project. He joined the college’s Board of Trustees in 2011 and was recognized in 2010 with an honorary degree.
“Marty was a transformational leader for Historic St Mary’s City and a guiding spirit of its collaboration with St. Mary’s College,” said Gail Harmon, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees. “He regularly taught our students in the Museum Studies program. As a friend he was a warm, gentle, and literate companion. He will be sorely missed.”
Sullivan chaired three national initiatives to improve standards and practices among America’s museums. From 1992 to 2000 he was a member and chairman of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee. From 1995 to 2003 he chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, advising the U.S. government on actions to deter looting of antiquities worldwide. Sullivan resigned from this post in 2003 when looters ransacked the National Museum in Baghdad just before the Iraq War, stating that he believed the looting was a tragedy the United States could have prevented. From 1997 to 2009 Sullivan was a member and chairman of the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums.