The Saint Louis Art Museum has appointed Min Jung Kim its new director Barbara B. Taylor, succeeding outgoing director Brent R. Benjamin. The selection follows extensive research, guided by recommendations from a month-long listening project that included input from the museum, the St. Louis community, and leaders of artistic institutions on the attributes necessary for guide the museum into its next era.
“For over a century, the Saint Louis Art Museum has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of our community, gaining international fame and respect,” said Charles Lowenhaupt, Chairman of the Council of Commissioners of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “Based on the advice we received as part of our listening project, our museum, which features works of art from all eras and cultures, can serve as a forum to help people of all ages. horizons to understand, discuss and address our cultural and historical differences. In today’s world, this is an essential role not only for our museum, but also for art museums around the world.
Lowenhaupt continued, “In Min Jung Kim, we have found a director who is uniquely qualified to build on our rich tradition, provide a world view of art and culture and improve the relationship between our institution and our community in this next era for the Saint Louis Art Museum. ”
Kim brings nearly 30 years of experience to her new role, including over a decade at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she was Director of Content Alliances, managing the collaboration between the Guggenheim; the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
As Deputy Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, she was responsible for implementing the completion of the new Broad MSU, designed by Zaha Hadid, which opened in 2014.
In her current role as Director and CEO of the New Britain Museum of American Art, one of the oldest American art museums in the country, Kim has raised the profile of the museum through exhibits and collections designed to broaden the definition of American art and reflect greater diversity while strengthening community engagement and collaborative partnerships.
Kim is a graduate of Wheaton College and holds an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London.
She was recently appointed President of the Connecticut Arts Council by Governor Ned Lamont and sits on the Boards of Hartford Healthcare; the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; the New England Foundation for the Arts and the American Foundation for the Courtauld Institute of Art, of which she was the former president. Kim was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea.
Kim will be the 11th director of the Saint Louis Art Museum and the first woman to lead this 142-year-old institution.
“The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the most prestigious museums in the country and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead this great institution,” said Kim. “It has a first-rate collection, a long and distinguished history, and a great and experienced staff.
“I want to express my gratitude to the Search Committee and the Council of Commissioners for trusting me, and Brent Benjamin for passing on a legacy of success through his visionary leadership,” she said. “I am delighted to build on the strong foundation of the museum’s foundation, to get to know and collaborate with the diverse communities of Saint-Louis, and to work with the talented team of the Saint Louis Art Museum to bring the institution to even higher heights. ”
The future orientation of the selection committee is the result of a four-month listening project. A working group appointed by the board of directors conducted interviews and group discussions with more than 200 people from across Saint-Louis and the art field. The process identified the need for a director who will lead and defend the museum and St. Louis, become an active partner in the region’s vibrant arts community, and serve as an architect of change, with particular emphasis on promoting a diverse global and cultural discourse in our community, said Lowenhaupt.
“Through the strong and impactful leadership of Brent Benjamin for 20 years, the museum is well positioned to play an active and impactful role in our community and the arts,” said Lowenhaupt. “Min Jung’s background, passion and energy will further advance our museum’s role as an important bridge between this great institution, our community and the world we live in.”
During his 22-year tenure, Benjamin led a world-class expansion on Art Hill; led a record fundraising campaign; oversaw the growth of the museum’s collection through strategic acquisitions and donations of entire collections; championed an innovative scholarship program to increase the number of minority professionals active in the arts and led a major initiative on diversity and inclusion. He retires on June 30.
“Min Jung is an excellent choice to lead the Saint Louis Art Museum,” said Benjamin. “She is known and respected as an inspirational and creative thought leader in the museum world. In retirement, I will continue to be a strong supporter of Min Jung, the Art Museum and the St. Louis community. “
The art museum’s board of curators approved Kim’s appointment on Monday, following a global search chaired by commissioner Keith Williamson. Other commission members who served on the search committee included Meredith Holbrook, Thomas Carnahan, Ashley Kemper, Kent Kreh, David Obedin, Emily Pulitzer, Donald Suggs and Barbara B. Taylor, Lowenhaupt being an ex-officio member.
Following Benjamin’s retirement on July 1, Carolyn J. Schmidt, deputy director and controller of the museum, will assume the role of interim director until Kim takes office later this summer.
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