A veteran of the Figge Art Museum is the new executive director of the German-American Heritage Center and Museum, Davenport.

The German American Heritage Center is at 2nd and Gaines streets, off the Centennial Bridge, Davenport.

Brian Allen, 37, started his new job Tuesday at the four-story center at the corner of 2nd and Gaines streets, succeeding Kelly Lao, who in late October became the second vice president of museum experiences at the Putnam Museum & Science Center, Davenport.

“I am super excited to be in this position; I heard about Kelly leaving and I was excited to get on board of the German-American Heritage Center and Museum and see how I can steer it into the future,” he said Tuesday.

Kelly Lao became the Putnam’s new vice president of museum experiences Oct. 24, 2022.

For the past 10 years, Allen has worked at the Figge Art Museum (225 W. 2nd St.), most recently in the role of Studio School and Education Galleries Coordinator. There, he oversaw the merger of the Figge’s studio program with the Bereskin Academy and created many community-oriented exhibitions with area school districts and organizations like Living Proof Exhibit.

Allen is also proud to have started various educational programs, such as a regional portfolio day and T-shirt design contest for high school students. He has made relevance the center of his work in museums, focusing on making the content available and accessible to people from all walks of life, according to a Tuesday release from the GAHC.

“We will be expanding our educational outreach and it would be a personal goal of mine to see if we could get a grade-level tour here, so that every year, one grade level is visiting the center,” he said. “I’d want to consult the local history teachers and see what would work best for them.”

Allen has presented his work at regional and national conferences, including the National Art Education Association (2021) and the Association of Midwest Museums (2018).

Allen earned his master’s degree in museum studies from Western Illinois-QC in 2013.

In addition to earning his BFA in Painting and Drawing from Illinois State University (2008) and his master’s in Museum Studies from Western Illinois University-Quad Cites (2013), Allen has also studied art in Tokyo and San Francisco. During his MA program at Western in Moline, he had a graduate assistantship at the Figge before being hired full-time.

In addition to coordinating the last two Living Proof exhibits of art by cancer survivors at the Figge, Allen has volunteered for the nonprofit for the past five years.

For more information on the German-American center, visit its website HERE.