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Patricia McDonnell Named Ulrich's New Director
The Ulrich Museum of Art and Joan Miro's Personnages Oiseaux, 1977-1978 on the right side.
WICHITA, KS.- Patricia McDonnell has been named director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, according to Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts. For the past four years, McDonnell has served as chief curator of the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Wash. She is expected to begin at WSU in January.

“Although we had three phenomenal candidates, any one of which would have been an excellent choice, Patricia McDonnell was chosen because of her outstanding credentials as well as the breadth and depth of her professional experience,” said Miller. “That includes her experience as head curator at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota and the Tacoma Art Museum. She also has previous experience in museums associated with institutions of higher learning. The search committee and community patrons are very excited about her vision for the (Ulrich) museum in the 21st century. I, personally, am very excited about her coming and look forward to working with her.”

McDonnell assumes the post previously held by David Butler, who resigned in May to become executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art in Knoxville, Tenn. Ted Ayres, WSU vice president and general counsel, is currently serving as interim director of the Ulrich Museum.

“In equal measure, I am honored and excited to lead the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita,” said McDonnell. “The exceptional outdoor sculpture garden across the Wichita State University campus makes a great statement — art is for everyone. On the campus grounds as well as in the galleries, the Ulrich Museum offers its diverse audiences engaging artistic programming. I am eager to deepen the links between the museum, university and larger community in the years ahead, to find the ways to make the museum an even more vital place for encounters with art and ideas in the region.

“The existing high professionalism of the Ulrich, plus the warmth of Midwesterners and creative energy of the museum supporters and staff I met were great attractions for me to come to Wichita.”

With 28 years in the museum profession, McDonnell possesses a range of museum management and curatorial experience, and scholarly achievements. From 1977-1983, she worked to develop and then coordinate the Museum Management Institute, an intensive, month-long, residential course for senior museum staff first offered through the University of California at Berkeley.

From 1991-2002, McDonnell was part of the team that launched the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. She served as curator and art history professor. In 1993 the museum opened a new facility, architect Frank Gehry’s first art museum. Its annual budget grew gradually from $1 million to $3.5 million and staff increased from 12 total to 29 full-time and 36 part-time.

In 2002, McDonnell joined the Tacoma Art Museum and helped to open a new museum facility designed by noted architect Antoine Predock in 2003. The annual budget increased from $1.9 to $3.7 million from 2002 to 2006.

McDonnell earned a bachelor’s degree in German studies from Mills College in Oakland, Calif., in 1978; and a master’s and Ph.D. in art history from Brown University, in 1985 and 1991 respectively. She earned a certificate from the Museum Management Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust in 2003, and a certificate from the Business School Management Program at the University of Washington in 2006.

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