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DMA Names New Director

by Stephen Becker 20 Oct 2011 3:43 PM

Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson comes to the DMA from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he has served as director since 2006.


The Dallas Museum of Art has named Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson the Eugene McDermott Director. Anderson comes to the DMA from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he has served as director since 2006. He replaces Bonnie Pitman, who retired in June. Anderson previously was the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario and has served as a curatorial assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His first day at the DMA will be Jan. 9, 2012.

Anderson is no stranger to Art&Seek, having appeared in two features, one on the DMA’s early online efforts and another on retired DMA director Bonnie Pitman’s groundbreaking, audience-research study. He’s also known in the art world for leaving the Whitney Museum of Art in New York after disputes with its board.

Keep reading for the full news release:

DALLAS, TX – October 20, 2011 – The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) today announced that Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson has been appointed as its Eugene McDermott Director. Anderson, who is currently the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), succeeds Bonnie Pitman, who retired on June 1, 2011. Anderson will assume his role at the DMA on January 9, 2012.

Anderson has served for more than 20 years as a museum director.   Since assuming his position at the IMA in 2006, Anderson has added over $30 million to the museum’s endowment through gifts and pledges; built a significant international exhibition program; resumed a free general admission policy; more than doubled attendance to reach some 450,000 visitors annually; and led the IMA to become the first museum in the country to achieve the EPA’s Energy Star certification for its environmentally responsible practices. During his tenure, the IMA also launched innovative web-based tools to engage the public, such as a dedicated video channel for art and artists known as ArtBabble, as well as a Dashboard of real-time statistics and a deaccessioning database on its website to promote transparency, both of which have become new models for the museum field.  In 2009, the IMA received the National Medal of Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums.

Under Anderson’s leadership, the IMA created a conservation science program and lab at the museum.  In June 2010, the IMA opened 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, one of the largest contemporary art parks in the United States providing a new approach for such museum parks by featuring ongoing site-specific commissions. Anderson also led the museum’s acquisition and renovation of Eero Saarinen’s Miller House (1957), an iconic residence in Columbus, Indiana, which opened to the public in May 2011.

During his tenure, the IMA organized a number of major traveling exhibitions, including European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century; Sacred Spain: Art & Belief in the Spanish World; and Hard Truths: the Art of Thornton Dial. The IMA was also selected as the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, bringing performance art to the U.S. Pavilion for the first time in its history by presenting new work by artists Allora & Calzadilla. Anderson also oversaw the remodeling and reinstallation of the museum’s galleries for its Asian, African, Design arts and textiles and fashion arts collections, which will reopen in 2012-2013.

Anderson is known as one of the leading technological innovators in the museum field. The museum launched IMA Lab in 2010, a consulting arm utilizing the IMA’s innovative approach to technology to promote smart, industry-specific solutions and to create and disseminate open source tools for use across the museum field. In its first year, IMA Labs generated over $500,000 in revenue to support museum programming.  In the same vein, the IMA also recently launched IMA Art Services, a second consulting arm that utilizes the IMA’s curatorial expertise to advise on public art projects in and around Indianapolis.  Revenue from these initiatives is invested into the museum’s programming, providing new revenue streams for the museum in a time of shrinking endowments and donations industry-wide.

“Max is a visionary director who has a proven track-record in translating innovative ideas into successful programs that have attracted audiences and patronage,” stated John R. Eagle, the President of the Board of Trustees.  “He brings a strong commitment to scholarship while, at the same time, looking for new ways to strengthen the role that museums play within their communities.  From his commitment to new technology and transparency to his ability to create new revenue streams for the IMA, Max is clearly a leader in the museum field who will expand the role that the DMA plays in the region, nationally and internationally in meaningful ways.”

“I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next Director of the Dallas Museum of Art,” said Maxwell Anderson.  “The DMA has been distinguished by the great leadership of my predecessors and by outstanding trustees who understand the transformative power of art and have demonstrated a sense of civic responsibility that is unparalleled.  I look forward working with the museum’s terrific professional staff and legendary patrons in enhancing the role the DMA plays in the lives of people in the region, nationally and internationally.”

“Max has brought an incredible vision, energy and innovation to other encyclopedic museums. He nurtured a wide array of exhibitions and scholarship – from the ancient to the avant-garde – while introducing new programs that increased public participation,” noted Deedie Rose, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Museum of Art.  “He is someone who understands how to celebrate the values that anchor museums while fostering innovations that serve both the institution he leads and the entire field.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have secured someone of Max’s multiple talents and experience to lead the DMA,” stated Cindy Rachofsky, chair of the Director Search Committee.  “He is a scholar and a populist, and has created programs that have lasting value and meaning to institutions and the many constituencies they serve.”

As both a director and activist in issues in the field, Anderson has long championed the rights of artists to receive fair tax treatment when donating works of art to museums. He helped lead U.S. art museums to adopt 1970 as a bright-line date when considering acquisitions of archaeological material and ancient art. And he launched two consecutive projects to build international libraries of digital media documenting the collections and activities of art museums—one for still images (AMICO) and one for video (ArtBabble).

Anderson served as museum director for the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1998 to 2003.  Under his leadership the Whitney attendance grew by 40% to over 600,000 visitors annually and its membership doubled.  He added New Media and Architecture as collecting and programming areas, founded an endowed conservation department, created an M.A. program in curatorial studies with Columbia University, and initiated the Bucksbaum Award.   Prior to joining the Whitney Anderson was director of the Art Gallery of Ontario (1995-1998), and Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University (1987-1995). He worked in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as curatorial assistant and later assistant curator for Greek and Roman Art from 1981 to 1987. In 1985 he taught in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, and in 1987 at the Università di Roma.

Anderson received an A.B. from Dartmouth in 1977 with highest distinction in Art History and A.M. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) degrees from Harvard, having spent 1979 to 1980 abroad as Harvard’s Frederick Sheldon Travelling Fellow. He was decorated as a Commendatore (Knight Commander) in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and decorated as a Chevalier in the French Republic’s Order of Arts and Letters.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, and dramatic and dance presentations. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.