Dallas Museum of Art Deputy Director Bonnie Pitman Named to American Association of Museums Centennial Honor Roll
Bonnie Pitman, Deputy Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, was named to the American Association of Museums Centennial Honor Roll, which was created to pay tribute to 100 of America’s museum champions who have worked during the past 100 years to innovate, improve and expand how museums in the United States serve the public.
“It is my honor to congratulate Bonnie Pitman on this richly deserved recognition from our professional field,” said John R. Lane, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “Her passion for art, her dedication to the advancement of how museums engage the public, and her commitment to community engagement efforts have distinguished her career and they have been instrumental in making the Dallas Museum of Art a national leader in bringing art and people together.”
Pitman joined the Dallas Museum of Art in October 2000 and has worked to transform the DMA into an engaging institution that welcomes people from all walks of life to experience the Museum’s collections and diverse program offerings.
Under her leadership the Museum ushered in its centennial with a 100-HOUR celebration that included around-the-clock programming and events designed to engage visitors with art. From this celebration, the DMA went on to launch its award-winning and highly successful Late Nights program, now in its third season, in which the Museum stays open until midnight on the third Friday of the month when it is filled with special programming, including lectures, dance, music, and literary readings, all of which are related to special exhibitions and the permanent collection.
Key exhibition and program projects enriched by Pitman’s vision include Passion for Art: 100 Treasures 100 Years in celebration of the Museum’s Centennial Celebration; Splendors of China: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong and Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship. To ensure the success of the Splendors of China and Lords of Creation exhibitions, Pitman developed task forces which included, respectively, leaders of the Asian and Hispanic communities. The task forces worked with the Museum on community outreach and cultural understanding. The Museum also works with an African-American task force developed by Pitman.
In addition, Pitman has devoted numerous hours to developing programs that allow for visitor interactions in the galleries, especially for children and families. With her guidance, the DMA launched “Arturo,” a family mascot, a family audio tour, and is developing a family website designed for children and parents to learn together. The website will include activities for use prior to visiting the Museum and follow-up activities that parents and children can do together to continue the learning experience. Recently, the Dallas Museum of Art was selected by Child magazine as one of the “10 Best Art Museums for Kids.”
Pitman has been a leader in the art museum field for 25 years, having served as a curator, educator, and administrator at the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Winnipeg Art Gallery. She came to the Dallas Museum of Art after five years of service as Executive Director of the Bay Area Discovery Museum located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco Bay’s Marin Headlands. Pitman led the Discovery Museum’s master planning and capital campaign to improve the facility and programs.
Pitman has served as a consultant to more than 200 organizations and museums, such as the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the National Science Foundation; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York; the Museum of African Art, New York; WNET-TV, New York; the Denver Art Museum; the Bishop Museum, Honolulu; the Museum Association of Great Britain; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
From 1989 to 1994, Pitman chaired the American Association of Museums National Task Force on Museum Education that prepared and published the landmark policy report Excellence and Equity: Education and the Public Dimension of Museums, which changed the way Museum’s across the country approached their mission.
She has served as an AAM trustee and vice president and co-chaired the AAM’s Centennial in 2006. Pitman served as a member of and chaired the AAM’s Accreditation Commission for 12 years. She was a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Getty Center for Education in the Arts. From 1994 to 2003, she was a consultant to the Pew Charitable Trust’s Program for Art Museums and Communities. She authored the book, New Forums: Art Museums & Communities, which documents the role of museums and their engagement with the communities they serve, published in 2004.
Among her recent publications are “Muses, Memories, Museums,” an article in Daedalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Presence of Mind: Museums and the Spirit of Learning, a book published by the AAM, of which she was the general editor.
AAM Centennial Honor Roll
Nominations for individuals were solicited from the field in an open, field-wide process. More 500 nominations were received during the process. A Centennial Honor Roll Committee convened several times to undertake the selection process. The committee included representatives of a cross-section of the museum community in terms of region, discipline, and typology. The committee was encouraged to interpret the criteria for selection based on the testimonial submitted on behalf of the nominee and any supporting documentation and knowledge of the candidate’s contribution to the museum field.
Other individuals named to the Honor Roll are Alfred Barr, Jr., (deceased), founding director of The Museum of Modern Art; J. Carter Brown, (deceased), director of the National Gallery of Art and Walter Hopps, (deceased), curator of The Menil Collection; and W. Richard West, Jr., founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian
About the Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art, established in 1903, has an encyclopedic collection of more than 23,000 works, spanning 5,000 years of history and representing all media, with renowned strengths in the arts of the ancient Americas, Africa, Indonesia and South Asia; European and American painting, sculpture and decorative arts; and American and international contemporary art.
The Dallas Museum of Art is the anchor of the Dallas Arts District and, in all its vitality, serves as a cultural magnet for the city with diverse programming ranging from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, dramatic and dance presentations, and a full spectrum of programs designed to engage people of all ages with the power and excitement of art.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.