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The Kimbell Art Museum Has a New Director


by Jerome Weeks 16 Jan 2009

KERA radio story: Expanded online story: Eric McCauley Lee is the new director of the Kimbell. He manages to combine Ivy League scholarship and art museum leadership with a love of the Southwest. Plus, he admires the work of Louis Kahn, the master architect behind the Kimbell. Most recently, Lee has been the director of […]

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  • KERA radio story:
  • Expanded online story:

Eric McCauley Lee is the new director of the Kimbell. He manages to combine Ivy League scholarship and art museum leadership with a love of the Southwest. Plus, he admires the work of Louis Kahn, the master architect behind the Kimbell.

Most recently, Lee has been the director of Cincinatti’s Taft Museum of Art. The Taft is somewhat like the Kimbell. It has a small but highly prized collection.

LEE: “The collection here is superb. The collection isn’t growing, however. It’s a more or less static collection, unlike the Kimbell.”

Lee got his doctorate at Yale University, which has two buildings designed by Kahn, the Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.

LEE: “Louis Kahn did so much to shape my notions of architecture. And the Kimbell, of course, I believe it’s the greatest purpose-built museum in the world.”

Lee knows the care that will need to go into the Kimbell’s new $70 million expansion designed by Renzo Piano.

LEE: “We will make sure that the integrity of the Kahn building is not compromised. And that special quality that makes the Kimbell so magical is not lost.”

Lee also ran the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma for almost a decade. He oversaw that museum’s notable expansion, including the largest bequest of French Impressionist paintings ever made to a public American university.

During his years in Norman, Oklahoma, Lee says he came to Dallas-Fort Worth to see nearly every exhibition that ran at the Kimbell.

LEE: “So yes, I’m very, very familiar with Dallas-Fort Worth. And I really miss the light and the optimism. I like Cincinnati very much as well but I really feel very much at home in the Southwest.”

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