For Chrysler's Departing Glass Curator, The Future Is Clear

The curator of the internationally known glass collection at the Chrysler Museum of Art announced this week he is leaving his job.

Gary Baker has worked with the museum 's 10,000-piece glass collection for 25 years. After Jan. 23, his last day, he plans to become a decorative-arts consultant and broker.

"He has done so much for this museum," said Bill Hennessey, executive director of the museum. "In looking at the key parts of the Chrysler Museum, glass certainly has to be one of the things that makes us who we are. And Gary has watched over that collection, shaped it and seen it grow for a quarter of a century."

The museum will begin a nationwide search for Baker's successor, and he expected that process would take months. "But we have no plans yet. This is very fresh."

Hennessey has invited Baker to stay on as a visiting scholar, he said, "and help us capture the unbelievable amount of information he has in his head about our collection."

Baker, 52, said the region lacks an appraiser of glass, ceramics, furniture and the like with his background.

"When I made discreet inquiries of antique dealers," he said, "they told me that if I entered this with my credentials, I would dominate the market immediately." He plans to remain in Norfolk.

Baker was hired in 1982 as assistant curator of glass under Nancy Merrill, the founding glass curator. He knew Walter P. Chrysler Jr., the museum's chief benefactor, who bought most of the glass. He died in 1988.

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