By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Posted: 03/07/2013 12:10:16 AM EST
Updated: 03/07/2013 10:28:16 AM EST

PITTSFIELD — Stuart A. Chase, who has headed both 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Museum, has gone to South Florida for his latest job opportunity.

The 54-year-old Chase has been named museum director and chief operating officer of HistoryMiami, a historical association that was known as the Historical Museum of Southern Florida until 2010.

Chase is part of a two-person team that was brought in to lead HistoryMiami through what the association calls a “critical new phase of development.” HistoryMiami’s new president and CEO, Ramiro A. Ortiz, is a retired bank president and well-known South Florida business leader who has served on the Orange Bowl Committee.

HistoryMiami is planning to expand into a facility that is being vacated by the Miami Art Museum at the end of this year, and is interested in creating a new structure to join the two buildings.

“I was recruited for this position,” Chase said. “It’s a unique situation. They’re headed into a capital campaign. There are building renovations. There’s re-invention and they’re rethinking how they present themselves to the public.

“They’ve been around for a long time,” since 1940, Chase said. “But it’s time to energize it.”

Chase said he was contacted by a management consultant about the position in Florida around the time he left his job as CEO of 1Berkshire in June. He interviewed for the position at HistoryMiami in January, was hired in February, and began his new duties on Monday. He has a two-year contract.

“I guess I would say that I was looking for a new position, but I wanted it to be the right position,” Chase said. “Along came (the management consultant) and here I am.”

A native of Palmer who spent summers at his grandfather’s cottage in East Otis as a youngster, Chase held leadership positions at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown before spending six years as president of the Berkshire Museum. He assumed his position at 1Berkshire in April 2011, one month after leaving the Berkshire Museum.

Faith Mesnekoff, the chairman of HistoryMiami’s board of trustees, said Chase’s previous museum experience, combined with the economic development experience he received at 1Berkshire, made him stand out from the rest of the candidates during the organization’s nationwide search.

“Miami is a really diverse community, and it’s really important to reach out to everybody and bring everyone together,” Mesnekoff said. “The fact that Stuart was able to reach out to the community in the Berkshires and do just that was very important to the committee.”

Besides his positions in the Berkshires, Chase has also worked in New York, Texas and Virginia. He and his wife, Julie, who left her job at the Clark Art Institute when the couple moved to Florida, own a second home in Stephentown, N.Y., that they plan to maintain.

“Julie and I are really happy to be here,” said Chase, referring to Miami. “We’re not forgetting our past. We were ready for a new frontier. This is a great opportunity.”

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