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Malcolm Rogers announces plans to retire as Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director, at the Huntington Avenue doors (2009).
BOSTON, MASS.- Today, Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), announced to the MFA’s Board of Trustees his future plans to retire. Throughout his nearly 20 years at the Museum, Rogers—who in May becomes the longest-serving Director in the MFA’s 144-year history—established a legacy of “opening doors” to communities from Boston and around the world. The Board will establish a committee to oversee a global search for the Museum’s next director, with Rogers remaining at the helm until a successor is identified and appointed. Additionally, Rogers has appointed two curatorial chairs. Frederick Ilchman, the Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of Paintings, has been promoted to Chair of the Art of Europe Department and Benjamin Weiss, the Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Visual Culture, will become Chair of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Weiss will succeed current Chair Clifford Ackley, who after 48 years of dedicated service at the Museum, will focus on exhibitions and scholarship in his role as Shapiro Curator of Prints and Drawings. The Board of Trustees has given the title of Chair Emeritus to Ackley in recognition of his record of remarkable achievement.

“Malcolm’s accomplishments over two decades have touched every aspect of the MFA—he has transformed the Museum. He will forever be a part of the foundation of this Museum and of an arts and culture renaissance in Boston,” said Grace Fey, Chair of the MFA’s Board of Trustees. “As we prepare to search for his successor, we will strive to build upon his legacy of community enrichment and global engagement––cultivating the future growth and evolution of this world-class Museum and its collections.”

Since his appointment in 1994, Rogers has presented innovative exhibitions, grown the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, enhanced arts education and community outreach programs, renovated and expanded the Museum’s landmark building and beautified the MFA’s campus. In 1995, just months after he began as Director, Rogers reopened the Museum’s Huntington Avenue doors that had been closed since 1990. Fifteen years later, the Huntington entrance was restored and the Bank of America Plaza was named. In 2008, he reopened the Museum’s historic Fenway entrance, which had been closed for nearly 30 years. It became the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance, a welcoming gateway to the surrounding Fenway neighborhood. Rogers’ legacy as the Director who “opened doors” also includes eliminating admission fees for children 17 and younger, extending the Museum’s hours to 7-days a week (and among the longest of any art museum in America) and instituting a series of free community days and cultural celebrations. Through these initiatives and many other educational and community programs, the MFA welcomes approximately 1 million visitors annually.

The 2010 opening of the Art of the Americas Wing was a milestone achievement for Rogers, the MFA and Boston. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Foster + Partners, the addition is one of the city’s most beautiful spaces, featuring 53 galleries and the glass-enclosed Shapiro Family Courtyard. Rogers led a campaign that raised $504 million, of which $345 million provided for new galleries, the Alfond Auditorium and conservation labs, as well as beautification of the Museum’s campus. In 2011, the MFA’s west-facing I.M. Pei wing was renovated, becoming the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art featuring 10 new galleries; educational and community classrooms in its Druker Family Pavilion; and inviting public spaces. Currently, gallery renovations are underway in the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World (named in 2006), including the Krupp Gallery featuring Homer and the Epics and two additional galleries dedicated to wine and performers in Ancient Greece (opening in September 2014).

“My 20 years have been such an invigorating time at the MFA, as we worked to reinforce the Museum’s position as a vital community resource and transform it into a global destination for arts and culture,” said Rogers. “I would like to thank the Museum’s Board of Trustees, staff, members and volunteers, as well as the millions of people from Boston and around the world who consider the MFA a special part of their lives and have visited during my two decades here.”

In addition to the Ann and Graham Gund endowment of the Museum Director’s position, 39 staff positions have been endowed during Rogers’ tenure—28 in curatorial, nine in conservation and two in education. More than 375 exhibitions have been held, including acclaimed shows such as Degas and the Nude (2011), Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (2009), Americans in Paris, 1869–1900 (2006), Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen (1999), Monet in the 20th Century (1998) and Tales from the Land of Dragons: 1000 Years of Chinese Painting (1997). Rogers also broke tradition by creating exhibitions that redefined “fine art” and appealed to new audiences, including Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass (2011), Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection (2005), Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar (2000), and Herb Ritts: Work (1996).

Rogers has expanded the Museum’s encyclopedic collection with nearly 68,000 acquisitions, enhancing the breadth and importance of the Museum’s holdings with major additions of 19th and 20th century photography, paintings and works on paper (Lane Collection) and West African art from the Kingdom of Benin (Robert Owen Lehman Collection). Additional noteworthy acquisitions and transformative gifts of art that have grown the collection in new directions include Judaica (Charles and Lynn Schusterman Collection), English silver (Alan and Simone Hartman Collection), African, Oceanic, Ancient American and Native American art (Bequest of William E. Teel), contemporary craft (Daphne Farago Collection and Stanley and Mary Ann Snider Collection), illustration, fashion, photography, design and Japanese art (Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection), visual culture (Leonard A. Lauder Collection) and a comprehensive collection of the work of photographer Yousuf Karsh, a gift that also includes curatorial and programming endowments.

Individual masterpieces acquired during Rogers’ tenure include Edgar Degas’ Duchessa di Montejasi with Her Daughters, Elena and Camilla (about 1876), Gustave Caillebotte’s Man at His Bath (1884), a monumental silver Cistern and Fountain (1708–09), Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Yellow, and Red (1927), David Hockney’s Garrowby Hill (1998) and Ellsworth Kelly’s Blue Green Yellow Orange Red (1968).

The Museum will celebrate Rogers’ 20th anniversary this fall with a series of events, including lectures, community programs and a gala event—to be held September 6. Co-chaired by Millennial Benefactor and Honorary Trustee Ann Gund and her husband Graham and Guardian Benefactor and Honorary Trustee George Behrakis and his wife Margo, proceeds of the gala will support education, access and community programs at the MFA—a testament to Rogers’ commitment to these areas.

Curatorial Chair Appointments
Rogers has also announced two important curatorial appointments. Frederick Ilchman has been named Chair, Art of Europe, and Benjamin Weiss, Chair, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Frederick Ilchman has organized acclaimed exhibitions at the Museum and orchestrated loans of many international masterpieces during his 13 years at the MFA. After joining the Art of Europe Department in 2001 as Assistant Curator of Paintings, his role expanded in 2009 when he was named the Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of Paintings and served as lead curator for the acclaimed Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (2009), an exhibition organized jointly with the Musée du Louvre. He is co-curating the upcoming exhibition, Goya: Order and Disorder (2014), which examines more than 160 of the master’s paintings, prints and drawings. A specialist in the art of the Italian Renaissance, Ilchman holds degrees in art history from Princeton and Columbia Universities and receives his Ph.D. from Columbia University in May. Ilchman is a member of the board and co-Project Director of Save Venice Inc., and has also served as Chair of the Boston Chapter since 2011.

In his role as Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Visual Culture, Benjamin Weiss is responsible for overseeing the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Archive and the MFA’s extensive collection of postcards, posters, illustrated books, and ephemera. He recently curated the exhibitions Audubon’s Birds, Audubon’s Words (2013), currently on view, and The Postcard Age: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection (2012). He spent seven years in the MFA’s Education Department as Head of Interpretation (2009–2012) and Manager of Adult Learning Resources (2005–2009). Weiss was integral to the opening of the Art of the Americas Wing, responsible for overseeing interpretation for its 5,000 objects. Weiss received his Master of Arts from Princeton University.

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