The first time Peter Timms saw the Fitchburg Art Museum, he was interviewing to become its director. That was 39 years ago. In a few weeks, Timms, 70, will step down from the top post, leaving behind a vastly different institution.
The galleries are full of art, including paintings by John Singer Sargent and Childe Hassam, antiquities on loan from Harvard and the Museum of Fine Arts, and photographs by Charles Sheeler and Walker Evans. The museum’s budget has increased from $50,000 a year to $800,000. An expansion Timms oversaw increased the museum’s size from 10,000 square feet to 40,000. And in an era when museums have been feeling the crunch of a down economy, Timms has managed to avoid ending a single year with a deficit.