The National Gallery of Art, Washington, today announced that its Board of Trustees elected Kaywin Feldman to be the institution’s next director—the fifth in the Gallery’s 77-year history. She will succeed Earl A. Powell III, who has served as the director since 1992.
The Gallery announced in November 2017 that Powell would step down in 2019 after more than 25 years of service. In April 2018, a committee of the Board of Trustees, assisted by the firm of Phillips Oppenheim, inaugurated an extensive search to identify the best person to lead the preeminent U.S. institution, which houses the nation’s collection of fine art and receives more than 5.2 million visitors annually from around the world.
The first woman to be named the Gallery’s director, Kaywin Feldman currently serves as the Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). Since assuming leadership of Mia in 2008, she has expanded the museum’s collection while also transforming the institution’s relationship to its city by opening its doors to community dialogue, doubling attendance, and engaging with the defining social issues of our era.
Frederick W. Beinecke, President of the National Gallery of Art, said, “Kaywin Feldman is a dynamic and highly principled leader, a gracious collaborator, and an innovator with the skills and vision to lead the National Gallery of Art in the 21st century. For more than two decades, she has had a distinguished career as an art museum director with major successes at each of her three institutions. We extend our gratitude to Rusty Powell for leading the Gallery with such strength and integrity during his long and productive tenure, and announce the appointment of our new director, Kaywin Feldman, with great confidence and excitement.”
Kaywin Feldman said “The National Gallery of Art is arguably America’s greatest treasure. To be chosen to lead it into its next decades is a profound honor. As I prepare to take on the responsibility for this magnificent institution, I want to express my gratitude to the Trustees for putting their faith in me, and to Rusty Powell for the example of his years of enlightened stewardship. I am eager to work with the talented team at the Gallery in taking the institution to even greater heights.”
Kaywin Feldman will assume her duties as director of the National Gallery of Art on March 11, 2019.
About Kaywin Feldman
Kaywin Feldman has led the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) since 2008 as its Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President. In that time, she has transformed the museum’s relationship to its city by opening its doors to community dialogue, providing free membership, and engaging with the defining social issues of our era. Her many accomplishments include the creation of a Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts at the museum.
She is a past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), past chair of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and a frequent speaker on reinventing the museum for the 21st century. She is a champion of digital technology for expanding access to art. Feldman established a contemporary art department at Mia and new galleries for showcasing the art of Africa. She has overseen a series of experimental installations in the museum’s venerable period rooms, exploring new ways of engaging with history.
Feldman has galvanized the galleries and her field with groundbreaking exhibitions such as At Home with Monsters (2017), which featured the art of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty (2018), a dramatic display of Chinese art designed by avant-garde theater artist Robert Wilson. As a curator, she has helped organize popular traveling exhibitions, including The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty (2015), which brought dozens of masterpieces to Minneapolis for the museum’s 100th birthday year.
Her efforts have helped double attendance while bringing international renown to the museum’s art, particularly its Japanese collection, which has more than doubled in size during her tenure. Other acquisitions include works by Kehinde Wiley, Ai Wei Wei, James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Born in 1966 in Boston, Massachusetts, Feldman’s fascination with museums began with childhood visits and an early interest in archaeology. She earned her BA in classical archaeology from the University of Michigan and an MA from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London. She also earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, specializing in Dutch and Flemish art, and received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Memphis College of Art in 2008. Before coming to Mia, she was the director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee from 1999 to 2007.
About the National Gallery of Art
The mission of the National Gallery of Art is to serve the United States of America in a national role by preserving, collecting, exhibiting, and fostering the understanding of works of art at the highest possible museum and scholarly standards. With some 1,000 employees and a campus that encompasses nearly 25% of the National Mall, the Gallery’s permanent collection includes more than 150,000 works of Western art, from the Middles Ages to the present. A robust series of exhibitions is just one of many highlights of the museum’s offerings, which extend to an internationally recognized, state-of-the-art science and conservation lab and more than 1,500 free public programs available throughout the year. The museum is housed in historic buildings—John Russell Pope’s West Building (1941) and I.M. Pei’s iconic East Building (1978)—as well as the 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden designed by landscape architect Laurie Olin.
(via the National Gallery of Art. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.)