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January 08, 2015

Museum Moves: Detroit Director to Exit; Barnes Gets New Leader

Graham Beal, who steered the Detroit Institute of Arts through a series of financial crises and laid the groundwork for its transition from city to private ownership, announced that he will retire when his current contract expires on June 30, the Detroit Free Press writes. The 67-year-old British native has been the institute's director for 16 years, overseeing a landmark $158-million renovation, a successful campaign to secure tax funding from suburban counties, and a battle with Detroit creditors who sought art sales to help pay the bankrupt city's debts.

As part of the "grand bargain" rescue effort to which the institute has pledged $100-million, the museum will be turned over to an independent nonprofit. It is also in the midst of a fundraising drive to build its endowment and secure lasting financial security. "I've done a lot, and we've achieved a lot, in particular the reinstallation, and I'm turning 68," Mr. Beal said. "I think it's time, even though the work is not all complete in terms of building the endowment."

In other museum news, Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation has hired Thomas Collins from the Pérez Art Museum in Miami as its new president and CEO, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. He will take up his new post in March, succeeding Derek Gillman, who guided the controversial move of the Barnes collection from suburban Merion, Pa., to a downtown museum that opened in 2012. A Philadelphia native, Mr. Collins led the former Miami Art Museum through construction of a new building and its renaming for property developer Jorge M. Pérez in honor of a $35-million gift.