The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) today announced that John R. Lane, the Museum’s Eugene McDermott Director, will retire in May 2008. The Museum concurrently announced that it has selected Bonnie Pitman, its Deputy Director, to succeed Dr. Lane as Director.
Ms. Pitman was the unanimous choice of the trustees of the DMA. After Dr. Lane informed the board this past month of his intention to step down, they discussed forming a search committee but quickly came to the conclusion that the ideal person to lead the DMA was Ms. Pitman.
Ms. Pitman joined the DMA as Deputy Director in 2000. In addition to working closely with Dr. Lane on directing the museum’s programming and administration, Ms. Pitman has been spearheading the DMA’s initiatives to advance the museum’s educational mission and enhance the visitor experience. Her work has culminated in the creation of the Center for Creative Connections, a new 12,000 square-foot facility opening in spring 2008 that will provide innovative models for art education and interpretation with programming focusing on the creative process of the artist as well as the creative process of engaging with works of art. The Center is based on an original three-year visitor research project headed by Ms. Pitman which examined in depth the ways in which visitors prefer to experience art, the results of which have fundamentally changed the museum’s programming culture and relationships with its constituencies.
Ms. Pitman has been a leader in the art museum field for 30 years, having held curatorial, education, and administrative positions at the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum, where she was deputy director, Seattle Art Museum, where she served as deputy director and as acting director, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Winnipeg Art Gallery. Prior to being recruited by Dr. Lane, Ms. Pitman served as Executive Director of the Bay Area Discovery Museum for five years. Ms. Pitman led the Discovery Museum’s master planning and capital campaign to improve the facility and programs.
As Deputy Director of the DMA, Ms. Pitman leads the curatorial, education, collections, exhibitions, publications, and conservation departments. Together with Dr. Lane she has developed the exhibitions program, and in the case of a number of high profile shows like the recent Forbidden City: the Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, and Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship, she has been the project director. Ms. Pitman has also played a particularly active role in collection growth in the areas of non-Western art (Asian, African, Indonesian, and Pre-Columbian) that are so important to the DMA and in which she has special knowledge and experience.
Under Ms. Pitman’s direction and leadership, the American Association of Museums (AAM) published the landmark policy report Excellence and Equity: Education and the Public Dimension of Museums, which stands as one of the field’s most influential studies and has transformed the way museums throughout the country interact with their communities. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the AAM named Ms. Pitman to its Honor Roll which pays 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 U.S. serve the public.
“Bonnie was the obvious and unanimous choice to succeed Jack,” stated Walter B. Elcock, the President of the Board of Trustees. “She is one of the museum world’s leading innovators with unparalleled experience and a remarkable track record at making museums engaging and relevant to people of all ages. We look forward to her assuming the directorship in May 2008.”
“I am proud and honored to have been selected to serve as the next Director of the Dallas Museum of Art and to have the opportunity to build upon the incredible achievements that have been realized because of Jack’s leadership and vision,” said Bonnie Pitman. “I look forward to our collaboration in the coming year as we continue to make the DMA both one of the region’s greatest resources and a model for museums across the U.S.”
“I’ve been a fan of Bonnie for years and believe that she’s one of the great leaders in the field. It’s terrific that the board of trustees shares this view,” stated Dr. Lane. “The timing and manner of her appointment ensures continuity and is a reflection of the quality of trustee vision and leadership.”
In addition to the positions she has held at various museums, Ms. Pitman has served as a consultant to more than 300 cultural organizations and institutions, including 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.
She has served as an AAM trustee and vice president and co-chaired the AAM’s Centennial in 2006. Ms. 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.
Ms. Pitman received a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in art history and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She earned a Master of Arts from Tulane University in New Orleans.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art, established in 1903, has an encyclopedic collection of more than 25,000 works, spanning 5,000 years of history and representing all media, with renowned strengths in the arts of Africa, Indonesia, the ancient Americas, 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.