New Bedford Whaling Museum President and CEO James Russell has accepted a new position at the Nantucket Historical Association after an eight-year run.

Carol Taylor, who chairs the museum's board of trustees, said: “We cannot thank James enough for his substantial contributions, which have completely transformed the museum over the past years. During James’ tenure, the museum has significantly expanded through the construction of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center, opened in 2015, which helped double the number of galleries in the Museum.

“Additionally, his dedication and passion for the community helped establish the museum as a cultural center for the community."

Under Russell’s direction, the museum has developed more than 100 partnerships with regional, national, and international entities ranging from local school systems to the government of the Azores, and the U.S. Navy, according to a news release. The museum’s efforts have led to a satellite museum in Cabo Verde. The campus on Johnny Cake Hill has been unified with exhibitions in the Mariners’ Home, and plans for a park named for Captain Paul Cuffe near the education center are in the works.

During Russell's tenure, the nationally recognized apprenticeship program was founded, targeting under-served New Bedford high school students with a paid mentorship program at the museum, leading to 100 percent high school graduation rates and successful continuation into further education.

The museum is in "a strong and stable financial position" with a substantial endowment, and has had a positive financial result for each of the past nine years. museum attendance has increased every year and is on track to surpass 100,000 in 2017, according to the release.

“We thank James for his incredible leadership and wish him well in his new endeavors,” Taylor said. “He is to be congratulated on the breadth of his accomplishments and on the high-level management team and staff he has developed and inspired throughout his tenure.”

Russell will provide support for the transition through the summer and will assume his new position in the fall. The museum’s Vice President of Operations and CFO Michelle Taylor will lead the transition team with the support of senior management at the museum.