Friday, March 24, 2006
Do you like this story?
[left, Maxwell Anderson and his wife Jacqueline]
The story has it that Maxwell Anderson has just signed on as the new Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He apparently asked to meet with the staff today and official press announcements are on the way. It was just yesterday that I was having a long conversation with a friend about my concerns that the IMA has been without a Director for so long. And strangely enough I was told about this intriguing news just a few hours ago.
For those of you who are unaware as to who Maxwell Anderson is, he is a Principal with AEA Consulting, founder and president of the Art Museum Network, a member and on the Advisory Board of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, former president of the Association of Art Museum Directors in 2002-2003, former Director of the Art Gallery of Ontario from 1995-1998, and more recently the former Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1998-2003. The list goes on and on. The guy has surely been around the block a few times. For a more detailed listing of his extensive background and published papers check out his website. Oh, he is also married to the beautiful actress Jacqueline Anderson.
His stint at the Whitney had it fair share of detractors, one being the likes of Jerry Saltz, whose 2003 Village Voice article blasts Max as well as the Board of Trustees at the Whitney. And with the recent criticizing of this years Whitney Biennial, the New Yorker chimes in on the state of affairs at the Whitney and in part the affect Anderson had on the museum.
So what does all this mean for the Indianapolis Museum of Art? What changes will we see in for the museum in the near future? Perhaps we can get an idea from a 2005 paper Anderson was commissioned to write for the Getty Leadership Institute titled, 'Metrics of Success in Art Museums'. In this Anderson comments, "I believe that art museums are first and foremost educational institutions. By that, I mean that they are to their detriment places that privilege entertainment over learning. I further believe that the rewards of acquiring, caring for, publishing, interpreting, and displaying an art museumÂs permanent collection are more significant and longer-lasting than those of staging temporary exhibitions. And lastly, I believe that those museums that attract ample contributed income are healthier and artistically freer places than those that rely too extensively on earned income from tickets, merchandise, and events." He also defines in this paper ways for a museum to gauge its success as,
"Defining Appropriate Metrics
The following aspects of a museumÂs identity fit the three criteria for appropriate
metrics (i.e., mission-focused, long-term, and verifiable):
1. Quality of Experience
2. Fulfillment of Educational Mandate
3. Institutional Reputation
4. Management Priorities and Achievements
5. Caliber and Diversity of Staff
6. Standards of Governance
7. Scope and Quality of Collection
8. Contributions to Scholarship
9. Contributions to Art Conservation
10. Quality of Exhibitions
11. Facilities' Contribution to Core Mission"
It is this type of forwardness and clarity that I think will benifit the IMA and bring the arts in Indianapolis to a new level. And what may start at the museum could spread through the other art institutions, galleries, and non-profits in the city. I for one am actually impressed with the decision to bring Anderson on board. With the IMA finishing up it's large expansion, I believe he has the knowledge, art/business speak, and ability to turn the IMA around and perhaps put it on the larger "Art World" map. Is this to much to expect? Am I just daydreaming? Perhaps, but I think that after much of the criticism that Anderson recieved about his directorship of the Whitney, he may feel he has something to prove. And what better way to prove himself than to turn around a moderate sized midwest art museum and make it a viable art destination.
[Update: Skip Berry at the Indianapolis STAR ran his article on Maxwell Anderson this mornings edition. And I would like to thank Tyler Green over at Modern Art Notes for all his generosity.]