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News Flash: Dan Monroe to Be Named Next AAMD President

Dan Monroe, executive director of the Peabody Essex Museum and incoming AAMD president

This is very good news.

At its annual meeting next week (June 5-8) in Raleigh, NC, Dan Monroe, executive director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, is to be named president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, of which he is currently vice president. He has a proven track record as a leader and thinker on hot-button problems facing the museum profession.

Monroe gets a CultureGrrl thumbs-up for his openness and his laudable, proactive role in tackling such thorny issues as: antiquities acquisitions, deaccessions by university museums, resolution of the contretemps over the National Academy’s stealth deaccessions and AAMD’s reaffirmation last year, engineered by a task force that Monroe co-chaired, of the bedrock (but endangered) principle that deaccession proceeds must be used exclusively for acquisitions, not for general financial relief.

I disagreed with Dan, though, on his previous stand regarding the use of deaccession proceeds by the Montclair Art Museum to satisfy bond requirements. In Paragraph 38 of its just-released  2011 edition of “Professional Practices in Art Museum,” AAMD appears to agree with me.

The association has now posted the agenda for its imminent annual meeting, which appears to be all about technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and not much about strengthening and defending the main mission of museums to collect, preserve, display and interpret works of art. Maybe that’s covered during the various small-group breakout meetings.

One of the scheduled “innovation” speakers is Jeff DeGraff of Minneapolis, where AAMD’s current president, Kaywin Feldman, also hails from. DeGraff is a self-described “visionary in the field of Innovation and Creativity [his caps, not mine]” with “a beautiful singing voice.” At least he should be entertaining! The keynote speaker, Robert Stevens, is founder of the Geek Squad and chief technology officer of Best Buy. I guess you’d have to be there to find out why these are the experts whom museum directors most want to hear from.

Perhaps one day there will be REAL transparency, and the press will get to sit in on AAMD’s conclaves. I’d love to be a fly on that wall—so much so that, many years ago, I foolishly attempted to infiltrate by swiping an unused name tag. I was recognized and summarily ejected!

an ArtsJournal blog