ST. PAUL, MN.- The Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA) today announced that Bruce A. Lilly is leaving the museum after 11 years as executive director. Natalie Obee, MMAA's business manager, has been appointed to serve as interim executive director while the museum searches for Lilly’s permanent successor.
“Under Bruce’s leadership, MMAA brought new attention to its strong collection of Minnesota artists and pursued a successful strategy to increase the museum’s visibility in downtown St. Paul ,” according to David Kelly, chairman of MMAA’s board of trustees.
During Lilly’s tenure, MMAA hosted a range of exhibitions including single artist shows of works by Gordon Parks , Norman Rockwell, George Morrison, Miriam Schapiro, Thomas Hart Benton and Wing Young Huie. Lilly instituted a return to the museum’s tradition of juried exhibitions starting with Minnesota Biennial: 2D2000. Other exhibitions have featured works from the museum’s collection as well as the popular collaboration last summer with the Minnesota History Center for In Her Own Right, an exhibition celebrating the first generation of Minnesota women artists.
Four years ago, under Lilly’s leadership, MMAA moved from the Landmark Center to temporary galleries in the Ramsey County Government Center as part of a strategy to gain street level visibility and to pursue the creation of a permanent venue in downtown St. Paul .
“The move was an essential piece of our desire to reposition and re-brand MMAA in order to attract new audiences and funders and make the case for a permanent home in St. Paul . It gave us the opportunity to feature emerging visual and musical artists through our exhibitions, Art Here offerings and Patio Nights,” Lilly said.
MMAA launched Patio Nights on the terrace adjacent to the new galleries overlooking the Mississippi River . Every Thursday during the summer months, these popular events continue to feature local musical talent. Held inside during the rest of the year, Art Here is a diverse and innovative series that includes fashion shows, exhibits by emerging artists, and multi-media events.
“This award-winning series of new offerings has drawn many new visitors to the museum and helped us cultivate a younger audience segment,” Kelly said.
Lilly is a St. Paul native and passionate advocate for the city. He currently serves on the boards of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation, St. Paul Academy and Summit School , Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, the R.C. Lilly Family Foundation and the River Road Foundation. He has served on the boards of Minnesota Public Radio and the Walker Art Center .
“My work with the MMAA and the other organizations I have been involved with over the last 11 years is all about my goal to make a lasting contribution to the quality of life in St. Paul .” Lilly said. “I look forward to continued service to our wonderful city.”