Longtime Gibbes Museum of Art employee Angela Mack has been named executive director of the historic institution, effective Thursday .

Mack, who has worked in various capacities at the Gibbes for more than 20 years, will be the third person in five years to assume the top post at the financially beleaguered museum. She currently serves as deputy director and chief curator.

The announcement was made by museum board Chairman Tom White on Monday, one month after former Executive Director Todd Smith resigned after having served two years. Smith predecessor, Betsy Fleming, left in the fall of 2005 after three years to become president of Converse College.

"We are very fortunate to have someone of Angela's experience and expertise, who has seen the Gibbes evolve over two decades," White said. He said that in the past, Mack had been approached informally about applying for executive director but that she had always declined. This time, however, Mack approached the board about the position.

"I told the board that I wanted the job because I felt that this was the right time to do more work with the city of Charleston and to truly reach out more to the community on various levels," said Mack, 55, a Spartanburg native whose parents emigrated from Greece. A graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in art history, Mack did graduate work in fine arts at New York University, Tulane University and the University of Virginia.

Hired as an assistant curator at the Gibbes in 1981, she has served in a number of capacities and has organized or provided curatorial oversight for more than 300 exhibits. She also has been published in dozens of magazines. She co-authored the book "In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860" with University of Virginia professor Maurie McInnis.

Her latest project has been to curate the upcoming exhibition "Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art," recently on view at the University of Virginia. Mack said the exhibit, which opens here May 9, deals with South Carolina's large slave population. "It is the first step in reaching out to a variety of people, as this (work) has so many vantage points," she said.

As of 2006, Mack's salary was $50,230. But White declined to say what Mack will make in her new position. Smith's salary was $155,000.

Eric Friberg, first vice president of the museum board, said that although the Gibbes' attendance has remained stable over the past several years, the museum has been in "great financial difficulty over the past five years."

According to the Gibbes' federal tax documents obtained by The Post and Courier, the museum has finished in the red over three of the past five years, collectively posting a $618,331 loss. Earlier, Smith said the budget for the last fiscal year was $2.2 million and for the current fiscal year is $1.8 million.

Mack said she will try to turn those numbers around by promoting the museum's greatest asset, the 10,000-piece collection of artwork valued at more than $40 million.