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DeCordova announces departure of Executive Director Dennis Kois
Kois joined deCordova in 2008 after serving as Director of the Grace Museum (Abilene, TX), Chief Designer and Head of Publications and Digital Media at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), and Assistant Chief Designer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY).

LINCOLN, MASS.- DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum announces today that Executive Director Dennis Kois, currently in his sixth year at the institution, has informed the Board that he will be leaving this May.

Kois notes: “The past six years have been exciting ones for deCordova. We’ve built a world-class curatorial program, nurtured an amazing staff, substantially grown our annual fundraising, and laid plans for the next steps toward becoming the best sculpture park in the country. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished at deCordova, and I have every confidence that deCordova is on the right track to achieving its ambitious goals.”

DeCordova is wrapping up a comprehensive master plan that lays out a newly invigorated path for the institution’s landscape and design over the next five years, which itself grew out of our 2011 strategic plan. We have a roadmap to becoming the best contemporary sculpture park in the US, strong leadership at the Board level, and a talented senior management team and staff in place.”

Kois joined deCordova in 2008 after serving as Director of the Grace Museum (Abilene, TX), Chief Designer and Head of Publications and Digital Media at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), and Assistant Chief Designer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY). Kois’ accomplishments at deCordova include more than quadrupling fundraising over just five years, soliciting gifts to endow the Sculpture Park as well as the Rappaport Prize (given annually to a New England artist), and elevating the curatorial program to include a mix of regional and international works of exceptionally high quality.

During Kois’ tenure, he led the commissions of the only major public work by Andy Goldsworthy in New England (slated to start construction this fall) and Orly Genger (currently on view and in collaboration with Madison Square Park Conservancy). Kois was also responsible for the acquisition of sculptures by Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Jaume Plensa, Rona Pondick, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. More than two hundred additions were made to deCordova’s permanent collection during his time as Executive Director. Kois initiated exhibition projects that attracted national and international funding, such as a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the NEA, and Switzerland’s Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne. Most recently, he hired deCordova’s new Chief Curator Jennifer Gross from Yale University Art Gallery.

In 2010 under Kois’ leadership, deCordova partnered with a local preschool to launch Lincoln Nursery School at deCordova, an innovative partnership and the first preschool embedded in a contemporary art museum in the United States. The project was named “one of the six most innovative in the United States” by the American Alliance of Museums in 2012, and is a permanent long-term project intended to pave the way for replicable innovation in early childhood arts education at art museums across the country.

The Board has formed a search committee and will immediately begin interviewing firms in preparation for launching the search for deCordova's next Director. Kois will advise the Board on the search during the three months he remains at deCordova.

Says deCordova Board Chair Gerry Frank: “Boston's loss is Milwaukee's gain. While we are very sorry to see Dennis and his family leave the area, we wish them well. Dennis took the helm at deCordova after a very challenging period for the museum, and has done incredible work in turning the institution in a new direction and injecting new energy, focusing on curatorial excellence, growing fundraising, and building community support. We're incredibly well-positioned for long-term success at deCordova.”

Kois and his family will return to Wisconsin, where both he and his wife grew up and still have family. In May, Kois will take over as President and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum, one of the oldest natural history museums in the United States, and the one that pioneered the museum diorama. The Milwaukee Public Museum welcomes some 700,000 visitors each year and has a collection of 4.5 million objects and specimens.

Kois notes: “My decision to depart deCordova is a personal one, made in order to allow my children to be closer to our family. While I've been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead deCordova, I originally entered the museum field with an interest in natural history museums. My first childhood visit to a museum was to the Milwaukee Public Museum, and my first volunteer role at a museum was there as well… this new role will bring my love of museums full circle."

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