Art Institute goes in-house for new director

Most of us art lovers who frequent the Art Institute of Chicago will never meet the director. But I’m sure you all are interested to hear that the museum's board of trustees went in-house for its new president and director, Douglas Druick.

This from a news release I just received:

Druick, the chair of two of the museum’s 11 curatorial departments, is an internationally recognized scholar and curator who has served as the acting president and director of the museum since the departure of James Cuno in June. Druick has been with the Art Institute for 26 years, and his appointment is effective immediately.

"Douglas is one of the leading curators in the world, and his contributions over more than two decades have been immeasurably important to the development and presentations of the collections as well as the exhibitions at the museum," said Tom Pritzker, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees.

"As we looked for a new director, the search committee kept returning to Douglas’ experience, intellect, and vision for the museum. Many curators from the Art Institute have become directors at other museums and cultural organizations. To me, this reflects the strength of our organization. I could not be more pleased that the Art Institute itself is now benefiting directly from the breadth and depth of experience that only an institution of this size and stature can provide."

Druick said the appointment is particularly meaningful for him as the Art Institute has been his professional home for more than 25 years.

Druick, 66, received a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from McGill University in Montreal in 1966, and a master’s in English from the University of Toronto in 1967. In 1972, he received his master’s of philosophy in art history from Yale University, followed by a Ph.D., also from Yale, in 1979.

From 1973 to 1984, Druick was the curator of European and American Prints at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He first came to the Art Institute in 1985 as the chair and Prince Trust Curator of prints and drawings. Four years later, in 1989, he became the Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute.

In 2006, while remaining the chair of the Department of Prints and Drawings, he was named the chair of the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture, the department that includes the Art Institute’s renowned impressionist, post-impressionist and modern collections.

During his tenure at the Art Institute, Druick has conceived and organized or contributed to some of the most significant exhibitions in the museum’s history including "Degas" (1988); "Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840-1916" (1994); "Gustave Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist" (1994); "Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South" (2001); "Manet and the Sea" (2003); "Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte" (2004); "Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" (2005); "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde" (2006); and, in contemporary art, "Jasper Johns: Gray" (2007).

Three of the exhibitions, "Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte," "Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" and "Jasper Johns: Gray," were named outstanding exhibitions by the Association of Art Museum Curators, and "Jasper Johns: Gray" also was named "Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally" by the American section of the International Art Critics Association.

Druick has published and lectured extensively, with 15 exhibition catalogues to his credit, numerous essays and articles, and talks and lectures from Vienna to London and from Amsterdam to San Francisco. He has been awarded many professional honors and has served on various advisory councils and boards.

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