Ten months ago, the Dallas Museum of Art lost its director of four years when Maxwell L. Anderson resigned in order to accept a job as director of grant programs at New Cities Foundation in his hometown of New York City. In Anderson's absence, president of the board Walter Elcock served as interim director, carrying out many stellar exhibitions Anderson had arranged, including the widely celebrated Jackson Pollock show Blind Spots and the Irving Penn photography retrospective on view through August 14.
Today the DMA announced that beginning September 1, Dr. Agustín Arteaga, currently the director of Mexico City's Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), will fill the void left by Anderson. Arteaga's resume also includes tenures as director of the the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico and founding director of contemporary art museum Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires in Argentina.
In his most recent position, Arteaga oversaw a collection that spanned the 16th century through the mid-20th. At the DMA — one of the largest art museums in the country, receiving 650,000 visitors a year — he will helm a collection covering 5,000 years of history.
“[Arteaga] brings an international perspective to the DMA, having spearheaded partnerships with major institutions around the world throughout his 30-year career," Catherine Marcus Rose, president of DMA's board of trustees, says in the press release announcing the hire. "His managerial acumen, curatorial expertise, and vision will be instrumental in enhancing the DMA’s international reputation and in strengthening our engagement with the ever-changing local and regional communities that we serve.”
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Arteaga has an interesting predecessor in Anderson, who accomplished a lot of good things in his tenure, such as restoring the museum to free general admission and raising $40 million for the museum's endowment, but was also highly controversial. At the time of his departure, Peter Simek at D reported that the narrative of an amicable split being spun by both Anderson and the DMA's board was far from truthful. Instead, Simek painted a picture of Anderson as an alienating force who was difficult to work with.
Arteaga's many successes at collaborating with art institutions across the globe in his career, establishing numerous loans and partnerships with museums such as the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate and the Musée d’Orsay, suggest someone who will be able to carry forward many of Anderson's successes while also building and maintaining relationships; an area Anderson, who was equally a source of tension during his tenures at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of Art, seems to have struggled with.
Arteaga became director of MUNAL in 2013, and since then he has grown annual attendance and expanded the museum’s collection with acquisitions of 35 major works by artists such as Diego Rivera, Francisco Zúñiga, Gabriel Orozco and Abraham Cruzvillegas.
Last year, Lauren Smart pointed out that several of Dallas' major art institutions were without leaders: Along with the DMA, the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) and Dallas Arts District also parted ways with their directors in 2015. The DMA's announcement today means that all of these positions have now been freshly filled, creating an opportunity for continuing positive change in the Dallas arts community. In April, former vice president of revenue operations for the Perot Museum, Jennifer Scripps, was named the new director of OCA, and the Dallas Arts District announced Lily Cabatu Weiss, formerly artistic director at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, as their new executive director.