DALLAS.- After 35 years of service in directors’ offices in museums across the country, including nearly a decade of visionary leadership at the Dallas Museum of Art, Director John R. Lane is retiring at the end of May 2008. During his tenure at the Dallas Museum of Art, Dr. Lane has invigorated the DMA’s exhibition program, mobilized the collecting community, and overseen the rapid growth of the Museum’s contemporary holdings, while raising more than $150 million in funds for endowment, capital improvements, and program advancement. Thanks to his dynamic leadership, the DMA has developed into one of the country’s leading encyclopedic institutions with strong national and international presence.
Deputy Director Bonnie Pitman, who was unanimously selected by the Board as Lane’s successor in May 2007, will assume her role as the Museum’s Eugene McDermott Director as of June 1, 2008. Pitman, who has served as Deputy Director since 2000, is acclaimed in the museum profession as a leader in strengthening audience engagement and education programming. She was recruited by Lane to the Dallas Museum of Art to partner with him in envisioning and implementing the DMA’s transformation.
“Jack is an institution builder with clear vision and strong leadership, and his contributions to the Dallas Museum of Art have established the Museum as a vital contributor to the international arts community,” said Marguerite S. Hoffman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Added Walter B. Elcock, President of the Board of Trustees, “As he had done previously in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Jack has rallied cultural leadership and arts patrons in Dallas, cultivating support for the DMA for the benefit of the public. The legacy that he leaves at the Dallas Museum of Art will last for generations to come.”
During his directorship, Lane has invigorated the collecting community in Dallas, encouraging collaborative collecting strategies that helped catalyze the unprecedented joint gift by bequest of three extraordinary private holdings of modern and contemporary art in 2005. A total of approximately 900 works, as well as all future acquisitions, were committed by local collectors Marguerite and Robert Hoffman, Deedie and Rusty Rose, and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, who also promised by bequest their architecturally distinguished house designed by Richard Meier. As a result of these donors’ benefactions, the DMA is now regarded among the top museums in the country for its postwar and contemporary art program. Some 300 of these works were on view to the public in the 2006-2007 exhibition Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art, a landmark moment in the Museum’s history.
The joint irrevocable pledge, committed while the patrons were still actively collecting, set a new paradigm for museum philanthropy and is a remarkable example of civic pride in the Dallas arts community that Lane helped to engender. Since being announced in 2005, the gift has continued to grow to include some 1,200 works and has encouraged other local patrons to give to the Museum additional works of modern and contemporary art.
In addition to dramatically bolstering its contemporary holdings, Lane has helped build the Museum’s historic collections with particularly outstanding acquisitions of South Asian art as well as Indonesian tribal arts. Under his leadership, the Museum has also greatly expanded its holdings of American 19th- and 20th-century silver and furniture and acquired 18th- and 19th-century French masterworks by painters such as Jacques Louis David, Eugene Delacroix, and Henri Matisse.
Lane has also been instrumental in guiding the Museum through a major capital campaign, which was launched in conjunction with the DMA’s centennial in 2003-2004 and has raised a total of $159 million toward its goal of $185 million, including $27 million to build, operate, and endow the newly opened Center for Creative Connections. Initiated to ensure the Museum’s ongoing vibrancy and continued growth, the Campaign for a New Century has helped the DMA build its ambitious exhibitions program and sustain its standing as an international leader in museum education and community engagement with art.
Under Lane’s leadership, the DMA has mounted an ambitious exhibitions program, organizing major traveling shows such as Thomas Struth (which toured to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago) and Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century (which toured to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art) and critically acclaimed focused shows such as Dialogues: Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, Rauschenberg; Van Gogh: Sheaves of Wheat; and Modernism in American Silver. Lane has also been integral in bringing landmark exhibitions to the southwestern United States, including Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, which will open at the DMA in fall 2008; the J.M.W. Turner retrospective, which the DMA co-organized; Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship; and Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong.
In addition, Lane co-curated Sigmar Polke: The History of Everything, Recent Paintings and Drawings 1998–2003, which toured to the Tate Modern, and curated Lothar Baumgarten: Carbon (Dallas). In 2003, he played a steering role in the development of Passion for Art: 100 Treasures 100 Years, an exhibition celebrating the DMA’s 100th anniversary that showcased 100 masterworks of art from the Museum’s permanent collection, mounted the same year as the DMA welcomed the Nasher Sculpture Center to the Arts District and embarked on fruitful collaborative endeavors with this new, next-door sister institution.
Along with Bonnie Pitman, Lane has championed new and innovative arts education programming at the Museum, beginning with the “100 Hours Celebration” marking the DMA’s centennial and culminating with the opening this spring of the Center for Creative Connections. As a result of these efforts and the Museum’s dynamic exhibitions program, the DMA has nearly doubled its attendance in a few short years, reaching a total of 641,000 in 2007.
Lane came to the Dallas Museum of Art after ten distinguished years as Director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from 1987 to 1997, where he led the institution through the most dramatic period of growth in its sixty-year history. During his tenure, SFMOMA built a 235,000-square-foot home designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta and completed a $95 million capital campaign. Lane also significantly developed SFMOMA’s exhibition programs, including major presentations of the work of Jeff Koons, Sigmar Polke, and Willem de Kooning. Concurrently, he championed an active art acquisitions program and helped cultivate and engage collectors in the community. Under his leadership, the museum doubled the size of its permanent collection and rose to be recognized as one of the leading institutions of modern and contemporary art in the United States.
Prior to joining SFMOMA, Lane served as Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh for seven years from 1980 until 1987, where he was responsible for three Carnegie International exhibitions of contemporary art and for co-curating the major survey show Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, 1929-1944. From 1975 to 1980, he served at the Brooklyn Museum, rising to Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and organizing a retrospective of the American painter Stuart Davis. During 1974 and 1975 he occupied the post of Assistant Director of the Harvard Art Museum.
Lane received a doctorate (1976) and master’s degree (1973) in fine arts from Harvard University, an MBA from the University of Chicago (1971), and a bachelor of arts from Williams College (1966). He served as a naval officer from 1966 to 1969. He is married to Inge-Lise Eckmann Lane, a nationally known conservator of modern and contemporary art.