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August 26, 2007
Fraser to leave VMNH

Sunday, August 26, 2007

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Virginia Museum of Natural History's research and collections director is leaving to head the natural sciences division of a museum in Scotland.

Nick Fraser, who also is curator of vertebrate paleontology, has been named keeper of natural sciences for the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is leaving the Virginia museum near the end of the year, the museum's board of trustees learned Saturday.

Fraser has worked at the museum in Martinsville for almost 18 years. He is its third highest-ranking administrator, behind Executive Director Tim Gette and Administration and Services Director Gloria Niblett.

A native of Scotland, Fraser said he is looking forward to returning to his homeland. He said that Edinburgh, which is Scotland's capital, has changed greatly during the past 20 years, becoming more cosmopolitan.

However, he said he now considers Henry County and Martinsville home and he will miss the community tremendously.

He did not seek the job in Edinburgh. "They approached me" about the position, he said of the Royal Museum, and it seemed too good of a job opportunity to pass up.

The Virginia museum moved into its new Starling Avenue building in March. The building is much larger, and has exhibits that are more modern, than the former location in an old school building on Douglas Avenue. In addition, the museum has seen a huge increase in visitors since the move.

So "it was a very big decision" to leave, Fraser said.

But the Royal Museum is embarking on a major transformation of its Victorian building into a more modern facility, its Web site shows.

Fraser said what he will miss most about the Virginia museum is "working with a fantastic group of people." He aims to keep in touch with them and hopes to develop some collaborative research between the museums.

"Research is an international business," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to continue to work with my colleagues" here in Virginia from time to time.

Also Saturday, the board of trustees told Gette he is doing an excellent job as the museum's director and gave him a one-time 5 percent performance bonus.

The decision was made after a lengthy closed session called to discuss a personnel matter.

Gette is paid $101,143 annually. That would make his 5 percent bonus about $5,057.