Brian P. Kennedy to head Toledo Museum of Art

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Arts Editor Helen Musa writes:

The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, USA, has just appointed former director of the National Gallery of Australia Brian P. Kennedy as the museum’s ninth director, with a starting date of September 1.

“Brian is well recognised internationally as an exciting young director,” said Betsy Brady, chair of the Board of Directors.

“He has a warm, friendly personality, a desire for excellence and diversity, creative energy and a love of active community engagement that make him a great fit for Toledo.”

Posed in front of a huge Rubens painting, the 49 year-old Kennedy accepted the appointment with evident relish. Museum experts believe that a successful period at the helm of this museum would equip him for one of the top gallery jobs in the US.

The Collection at Toledo is rated one of the most impressive in the US, but so too is that of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, where Kennedy has been director since leaving Australia. Hood boasts one of the largest and finest collections at any American institution of higher learning.

Kennedy promoted a global art focus at Dartmouth, with new acquisitions in Native American and Australian Aboriginal art, Indonesian textiles, and modern art and a new series of public contemporary art projects featuring artists from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

During his turbulent reign in Canberra, the then youthful Kennedy oversaw the dropping of general admission fees at the NGA and the acquisition of works by Luca Giordano, Pierre Bonnard, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter and Frank Stella. He also expanded the gallery’s travelling exhibitions and loans program throughout the country.

Kennedy is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Association of Museums and the International Association of Art Critics. He was chair of the Irish Association of Art Historians from 1996-1997 and the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors, 2001-2003. In 2003, the Australian Federal Government awarded Kennedy a Centenary of Federation medal for Service to Australian Society and its Art.

Kennedy, his wife Mary and teenage son Eamon will be relocating to the Toledo area. His daughter, Anne, is now a student at the University of New Hampshire.

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