This news is a few weeks old, and it was such a surprise I literally gasped out loud when I read about it on the day it broke: Dallas Museum of Art Director Max Anderson left September 28, to be Director of Grant Programs at the New Cities Foundation.
I was still in NY when Anderson took the helm at the DMA and I was pretty excited to hear it. He was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art during some very innovative times, and when I heard the news that he’d be going to Dallas I considered it a good get for an institution I admire. Then, suddenly one Monday morning in the fall of 2015, his online resume and New Cities quietly change to reflect that he is leaving the DMA, before the museum could even put out their own statement.
I noticed in recent months that there are quite a few positions coming open at the DMA and wondered what might be happening there. I was not the only one, as D Magazine brings up other shakeups that weren’t on my radar. Though you could say I got my earliest start there (volunteering to do inventory with the registrar’s office in 2001 while I was still an undergrad), I didn’t know a lot about how the place worked then, nor do I know much about how is structured now.
I wonder how things will go for Anderson. As I read more on his work history, I realize he wasn’t at Indianapolis much longer than he was at Dallas (5 and 4 years, respectively), and The Whitney–with a history of short-tenured directors and strong-armed board members–has essentially written him out of their history, though he was there for a pivotal 5 years as well.
This piece on Dallas Morning News is pretty standard except for the video at the end. W.O.W.
Watch at your own risk! (direct YouTube link) I couldn’t look away. On further consideration, it tells me quite a few things about him & the museum. First impression, he’s kinda pasty, I guess his bio headshot is a darn good one for making him seem less so? Or is it the bandana & hat combo? 2) Anderson is open to doing new/weird things and not so very worried about his image, good for him. More directors would do well to loosen up their public image a bit. 3) This is a very Dallas fundraising video. Name-checking high class brands that are sponsoring the event, fancy ladies with fancy shoes, trying to catch a wave of the cultural moment by doing an Uptown Funk parody, etc.
Other thoughts: I wonder how much time and money went into making that silly thing? It was either a fun break from the regular work of the museum, or really annoying, or more likely a bit of both. I’m imagining the process to that led to it. It wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t money for it, I suspect a staff member came up with it, somebody said “that’s cool but we can’t do that, it’s too much money.” Then a donor/board member said, “That’s a fantastic idea, I’ll pay for it if Max will do it!”