SAN MARINO, CA.-
John Murdoch, the Hannah and Russel Kully Director of Art Collections, has announced his retirement from The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
. Murdoch has led the Art Collections for more than nine years; he will step down June 30, 2012.
His contributions have been absolutely extraordinary, said Steven S. Koblik, Huntington president. With the building of the Erburu Gallery, John played a central role in the development of the Scott Galleries of American Art, but most dramatically, his remarkable leadership in restoring the historic Huntington residence and creating a coherent display of the European art collections can only be described as awe inspiring.
Murdoch oversees the permanent installations of European and American art at The Huntington as well as the institutions program of temporary art exhibitions. Under his leadership, the collections have expanded dramatically and have featured such star acquisitions as the Philippe de Champaigne portrait of Jean de Thevenot, sculptor Harriet Hosmers colossalZenobia in Chains, major works of British and American Arts and Crafts, andSmall Crushed Campbells Soup Can (Beef Noodle)by Andy Warhol.
New galleries have come on line during Murdochs tenure, most notably the 2009 expansion of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, displaying high points in American art from the time of the revolution to the mid-20th century. The Huntington mansion, which houses the institutions European art collections, underwent a complete renovation in 2008, a $20 million project. That effort involved a thorough updating of the infrastructure of a nearly 100-year-old building originally built for Henry E. Huntington and his wife; it also included 5,300 square feet of new gallery space, and new gallery presentations of some 1,200 objects of European art from the 15th to the early 20th century.
As director of the art division, Murdoch also oversaw a host of acclaimed art exhibitions, including major presentations on John Constable, the architects Greene and Greene, Thomas Gainsborough, American printmaking, and William Morris.
His good work in championing a temporary art exhibitions program has produced shows of enormous range and vitality, Koblik added.
Murdoch came to The Huntington after serving as director of the Courtauld Institute Gallery at the University of London for nine years; before that he spent 20 years at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
A search for Murdochs successor will get under way in the coming weeks, Koblik said.