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Stepping Up: Judith Dolkart Leaves Barnes Foundation for Addison Gallery Directorship


Judith Dolkart

The Barnes Foundation, less than two years after it opened its new Philadelphia facility, is not only without a director, but is also about to lose its deputy director/chief curator.

When I learned that Derek Gillman was leaving the Barnes, effective last Jan. 1, to become distinguished visiting professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, I wondered in this CultureGrrl post whether there might be a Barnes directorship in the future of deputy director Judith Dolkart, “whose acumen I admire, was a 2013 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership and hit the jackpot by scoring a residency in that director-grooming program with Tom Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum.”

As it turns out, she’ll be realizing her directorial aspirations elsewhere: The Addison Gallery of American Art at the Phillips Academy (a residential secondary school in Andover, MA) has announced that Dolkart will become its director, effective this July, succeeding Brian Allen, who is now director and vice president of the New-York Historical Society (succeeding Linda Ferber). The Addison, which holds a distinguished collection of some 17,000 works, was also a stepping stone to a bigger New York institution for Adam Weinberg, its director from 1999-2003 and now director of the Whitney Museum.

Although Gillman’s departure was not publicly announced until last December, the board had known about it since September. But when I asked Jan Rothschild, the Barnes’ senior vice president for communications, about the status of the search, she could only say:

The Executive Committee of our board is working with Phillips Oppenheim [a search firm] to conduct the search.  We are pleased with the interest that has been expressed in the position, and we are confident that we will recruit an outstanding candidate for this position.  The search is moving along the expected timeline.

Just what is that “expected timeline”?

When we have news we’ll be sure to let you know!

In other Barnes news: Its long-time board chairman, Bernard Watson, has also stepped down, but will remain a member of the board. The new chairman is Joseph Neubauer, the major Philadelphia philanthropist, who is chairman and former CEO of Aramark Corp., a provider of food, hospitality, facility and uniform services.

This is a crucial time in the Barnes’ transition from a small facility in Merion, PA, to a bigger one in Philadelphia, which opened successfully but still appears to need a firmer financial underpinning to support a sustainable future (as I discussed in this post, which is also linked above).

For more perspective on the thorny fundraising challenges confronting Philadelphia’s burgeoning cultural institutions, see this detailed September article by the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s indispensable Peter Dobrin, who examined whether the city’s arts institutions could “successfully jockey for funding when so many basic needs—education, health and human services—are underfunded.” He noted that the city’s “new or expanded [cultural] arrivals represent unprecedented competition” and said this about the Barnes’ situation:

The operating costs of new organizations—and of existing groups that are now substantially larger—have mushroomed. The Barnes Foundation, for instance, now raises more than $7 million as part of its normal annual campaign. To support more programs and exhibitions, its total budget went from $7 million for its last year in Merion to $17 million a year on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. “It’s a completely different institution,” said Barnes COO [now its acting director] Margaret B. Zminda.
Fundraising while the Barnes’ leadership is in flux will be likely become even harder.

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