Long-time Lauritzen Gardens Executive Director Spencer Crews announced today that he is retiring from full-time leadership of Omaha’s public garden. Crews will transition to the position of Executive Director Emeritus-Advisor. He will work to incorporate the garden’s new Executive Director, and will focus on new garden design, horticulture and archiving the garden’s development history.
The Lauritzen Gardens board of directors has launched a national search for an Executive Director, and will work with a search firm to name a top-level leader by summer 2018.
“Twenty-two years ago, I was invited to Omaha to join a passionate and dedicated group of volunteers whose dream was to build a new botanical garden for the community,” Crews said. “Little did I expect that invitation would result in my life’s work and greatest achievement.”
Under Crews’ leadership, Lauritzen Gardens developed as a public-private partnership from a bluff with wooded terrain just west of the Missouri River to a thriving 100-acre botanical center near downtown Omaha. Highlights of his tenure include, but are certainly not limited to: the opening of the 32,000-square-foot visitor and education center in 2001, the admittance of Lauritzen Gardens as the 38th participating institution in the Center for Plant Conservation in 2012, and the addition of the 17,500 square foot Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory in 2014. During Crews’ tenure, staff members increased from a single full-time employee to 70 plus employees.
2017 was an exceptional year for the garden, setting records for yearly attendance, household memberships and educational participants. “Lauritzen Gardens is one of Omaha’s greatest treasures due to the vision and work of Spencer Crews,” said Lee Handke, board president. “Spencer was the first Executive Director of the gardens, guiding its growth and development into a vibrant place for the community to enjoy, with a reputation that continues to grow beyond Omaha.”
Lauritzen Gardens is an urban oasis of beauty and tranquility. This 100-acre botanical garden, comprised of several outdoor garden areas, creates a living museum of unique four-season plant displays, maintained to the highest standards consistent with environmental stewardship.
Lauritzen Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the café serves lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission to Lauritzen Gardens is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages six to 12 and free for members and children younger than six years old.
Lauritzen Gardens is conveniently located in the beautiful riverfront hills at First and Bancroft Streets and is close to the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium and the Old Market. For more information, please visit www.lauritzengardens.org or call (402) 346-4002.