Philadelphia Museum of Art Names a New Director

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Two years after openly confronting allegations of sexual harassment, the Philadelphia Museum of Art elected a new leader. Sashasda is the current director and chief executive officer of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.

The museum’s chairman, Leslie Ann Miller, praised her educational and work experience, saying in an interview Tuesday that Suda was “a person in history who deserves the institution at this time.”

“I hope her gender can be seen through our lenses, which symbolizes the agency’s ongoing efforts to promote DEI in everything we do,” Miller continues. Mentioned the focus on the diversity, fairness and inclusiveness of the museum. “Sasha understands the crucial importance of building on the efforts of the past to reach out to the community in order to participate through the exhibition.”

The 41-year-old Suda, who will take over as the 14th Deputy and Chief Executive Officer in September, will take over the controversial 145-year-old institution. In 2020, a New York Times report revealed that a young male manager was accused of abusing several women on staff. Government officials have criticized the museum. Employees who joined the union, citing gender and impartiality issues. Timothy Love, the former director of the museum, apologized to the staff. Love finally announced his resignation last summer and worked for 13 years.

At the National Gallery, appointed in February 2019, Suda promised reconciliation with indigenous peoples and focused on justice and equality.

“I’m passionate about human-centered leadership and I’m really interested in building that strength so that people can see the value of their work and the value of their living experiences. Yes, managers and leaders have room for discomfort and highly needed conversations, “Suda said in a telephone interview.

“That’s the moment for me as a leader,” she continued.

She is known for her collection of about 240,000 works of art, including works by Brancusi, Duchan, Rodin and Jasper Johns at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and its distinctive front staircase featured in the movie “Rocky”). He added that it was one for a long time. Her favorite. “She used to get lost in the gallery,” Suda said. “This is just one of the rare places in museums where you can turn off and enjoy art in the best possible way.”

As cultural institutions seek to diversify staff, boards, collections, and programming, some may question the museum’s decision not to appoint colored people. In February, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art replaced long-time leader Neil Venezura with Christopher Bedford, director of the White Baltimore Museum of Art.

But Miller said Suda was the most capable person, adding that the museum cast “the widest possible net to attract the pool of the most diverse candidates.”

Miller also cited Suda’s communication skills as the most important thing for the institution. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been widely condemned by current and former staff because former education manager Joshua Helmer, who resurfaced as director of the Erie Museum, was unable to openly address the issue before he was resigned from his subsequent duties. .. New York Times report.

Helmer said he always followed the museum’s policies, but refused to discuss his treatment of women and his relationship with women.

Born to Czech parents in Toronto, Suda earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a master’s degree in art history from Williams College, and a PhD. At New York University. She began her career in the medieval department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and played various roles from 2003 to 2011.

She then returned to Canada as an assistant curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, eventually becoming a curator of European art, and then chair of prints and drawings.

Suda will be the third female director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Anne d’Harnon Court was her board member and chief executive officer from 1982 until her death in 2008. Former National Gallery of Canada, Jean Sutherland Boggs was the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1978 to 1982.

Like cultural institutions around the world, the Philadelphia Museum is struggling to recover from a pandemic that required staff and budget cuts. The museum currently has an operating budget of $ 62 million and has almost completed a fundraiser with a donation of $ 560 million.

Last year, the museum completed the first part of a refurbishment and expansion designed by Frank Gehry.

However, its main priority seems to be to restore its public status and internal health. After the “cultural evaluation” of 2020, the museum has invested additional resources in key areas in need of relief. “The agency hasn’t escaped from the problem. We faced them head-on,” Miller said. “We are committed to improving communication and transparency.

“Have you solved the problem? Absolutely not,” she added. “Are we promised to work on them? Absolutely.

“This is a new chapter in a new world,” she continued. “We have to start thinking outside the box. We can’t go back at that time. This is now.”

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