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New York's Museum of Biblical Art names art historian Richard P. Townsend Director
From 2009 until 2011, Townsend was President and CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art. Photo: Thomas McConville.

NEW YORK, NY.- Roberta Green Ahmanson and the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Biblical Art announced the appointment of a new Director, Richard P. Townsend, an accomplished art historian and museum professional. Mr. Townsend brings a rich array of experience to MOBIA, having held both curatorial and leadership positions at art museums across the United States including the Museum of Latin American Art, Miami Art Museum, and Price Tower Arts Center, among others.

The appointment took effect on October 15th, 2013.

“Richard Townsend brings to MOBIA a history of helping a diverse range of museums extend their reach,” said Mrs. Ahmanson, the Chair of the Board. “This makes him the perfect person MOBIA needs to build its audience and expand its programs. We're excited to have him lead our team.” She continued “Rena Zurofsky, our Interim Director, not only did an excellent job of sustaining the museum’s operations, but also preparing it to move forward. We're grateful for her contribution, and we know she'll make this a very smooth transition.”

“I am honored and delighted to join MOBIA at such a promising moment in its development. As we look to its tenth anniversary in 2015, MOBIA will continue its tradition of superb exhibitions and programs with a renewed outreach to New York City as well to national and international audiences,“ Townsend said.

During the course of a 24-year career that has included curatorial work on art from the Baroque to the contemporary, Townsend has organized or commissioned more than thirty exhibitions, published over twenty articles, reviews, books and catalogues, and as director raised tens of millions of dollars in support of his institutions. Most recently, Townsend developed a collaborative, multi-disciplinary cultural project involving internationally acclaimed artist Mark Dion and a consortium of Balboa Park, San Diego, cultural and scientific institutions in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California world’s fair. From 2009 until 2011, Townsend was President and CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California, where he oversaw record setting attendance and fundraising efforts, as well as presenting and commissioning critically acclaimed exhibitions ranging from Latin American abstraction to the landscapes of David Alfaro Siqueiros. Townsend’s tenure at MOLAA was described as “enlivening” by Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight.

Prior to MOLAA, Townsend served as Deputy Director for External Affairs at the Miami Art Museum (now the Perez Art Museum Miami), where he worked closely with leadership on the development and funding of the Herzog and de Meuron-designed building on Biscayne Bay, opening in December 2013.

From 2001 to 2006, as Executive Director and CEO of Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Townsend envisioned and repurposed Price Tower Arts Center as a museum of 20th and 21st-century art, architecture and design, housed in a global architectural landmark, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper.

At the outset of his career, Townsend specialized in early modern European art with a special focus on the Baroque. As the Ruth G. Hardman Curator at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, he organized exhibitions around the theme of Caravaggio and Tanzio da Varallo’s paintings of St. John the Baptist as well as on Bernardo Strozzi and the imagery of St. Francis.

Townsend received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and was adjunct professor of art history at the University of Tulsa.

MOBIA is an independent museum committed to engaging diverse audiences in the exploration of world-class artwork—from ancient to contemporary—inspired by the Bible. Located near Lincoln Center at 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, MOBIA’S exhibitions have ranged from altarpieces of Bartolo di Fredi to the stained glass windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany and from Albrecht Dürer prints to works by contemporary artists.

Upcoming exhibitions at MOBIA are Sacred Visions: Nineteenth-Century Biblical Art from the Dahesh Museum Collection, from October 18, 2013-February 16, 2014, and Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography, 1890 1950, from November 3, 2013-February 16, 2014.

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