North Dakota native Andrew J. Maus, 36, has been named director of the Plains Art Museum in Fargo where he will start work January 25, 2016.

For the past five years Maus has been executive director of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) in Winona where he oversaw two major expansions, boosted attendance by 32 percent, and brought in more than $330,000 in grants for artist programs, education and exhibitions. 

During Maus' tenure, the Winona institution garnered significant attention for spectacular purchases of pricey art paid for by the museum's founders and chief backers, Mary Burrichter and her husband, Robert "Bob" Kierlin whose $700 million fortune originated with Fastenal, a $15 billion hardware-supply company Kierlin founded in Winona. 

Earlier this month Burrichter and Kierlin paid $5.9 milllion at Sotheby's in New York for "The Great Florida Sunset," by Martin Johnson Heade, an auction record for the artist, A year ago they purchased, for an undisclosed amount, one of only two surviving versions of "Washington Crossing the Delaware," Emanuel Leutze's famous depiction of the founding father standing in a row boat as a ragtag bunch of patriots oar through ice foes on a surprise midnight attack during the Revolutionary War. And in 2013, the couple unveiled at the museum a rare Gauguin and a $4.5 million painting by J.M.W. Turner.

The purchases by Burrichter and Kierlin have put the Winona institution on the national art map, even though they typically retain ownership of the art and simply loan it to the museum. 

Maus has deep roots in North Dakota where he was born and raised in Dickinson. He first worked at the Plains Art Museum while in college at Minnesota State University in nearby Moorhead, MN from which he graduated in 2002 with a degree in studio arts. He also earned a M.S. degree in public administration and nonprofit management from the Moorhead university in 2011.

Maus' attachment to the Plains museum grew when he worked there from 2006 to 2010, holding various posts as director of education, curator of public programming, and curator of exhibitions. In 2010 he moved to Winona to run the Marine Art Museum. 

"This is a dream opportunity for me to lead the organization that inspired my love of museums," Maus said of the Plains job. "It's also an opportunity to return to the community that I consider home. I am eager to begin to work with the philanthropic community, artists, and the museum's staff and board to make Fargo-Moorhead the economic and cultural center of the Dakotas and Western Minnesota."

He follows Colleen Sheehy who ran the Fargo institution from 2008 until July 2015 when she returned to her former base in the Twin Cities to become president and executive director of Public Art St. Paul. Mark Henze, the Plains' Chief Financial Officer, stepped in as interim director after Sheehy's departure.