LACMA makes it official

The museum board formally named Michael Govan as the new director and CEO. Here are this morning's Suzanne Muchnic story in the LAT and my link yesterday to the stories telegraphing the hiring. Turn the page for today's official announcement and Govan's history:



Los Angeles, February 3, 2006 -- The Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) today announced the appointment of Michael Govan as Director and Chief Executive Officer. A start date in early March is anticipated. Since 1994, Mr. Govan has been President and Director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York. Under his leadership, Dia has dramatically increased its outstanding program of exhibitions, interdisciplinary programs, and scholarly and critical publications. Perhaps most notably, Mr. Govan spearheaded the creation and 2003 opening of the critically acclaimed Dia: Beacon, a new museum that houses Dia’s renowned collection of art from the 1960s to the present. That collection nearly doubled in size in Govan’s 12-year tenure.

Highly regarded for his curatorial work as well as museum leadership, Mr. Govan is co-curator of the acclaimed touring exhibition Dan Flavin: A Retrospective. Organized by Dia in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the show recently opened at the Hayward Gallery in London. He has also deepened Dia’s engagement with and support of Michael Heizer’s City project, James Turrell’s Roden Crater, and other important long-term, site-specific works.

“We are so pleased to have Michael join LACMA at this pivotal moment in its history. He has a keen understanding of the institution, its rich and varied collections and programs, and its vital regional, national, and international roles as an encyclopedic museum and a public institution,” said Nancy Daly Riordan, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “He is a modern day renaissance man who possesses tremendous intelligence, skills, interests, and passion for art from different disciplines and eras”.

“Michael Govan is one of the most dynamic professionals in the art world today,” said James Wood, former Director and President of the Art Institute of Chicago. “While best known for his leadership in the transformation of the Dia Foundation, Michael has the extensive background one would expect of a graduate of Williams College. His knowledge and passion for the art of Renaissance and baroque Italy provide the context for his appreciation of modern art in general and his exceptional involvement with the contemporary artists that he has so passionately supported over the past two decades.”

“I am so honored to lead LACMA at this great time of transformation,” said Mr. Govan. “Tremendous opportunities exist to build upon the successes of the past four decades. This starts with the collection and identifying innovative approaches to present these artworks with a special relevance to the region. Already, LACMA plays an important role in the region’s unique and vibrant communities. Many extraordinary artists are based here. They are both members of the larger community and great resources for it. I champion their deeper involvement with the museum. Working with them, and others, we’ll make it possible for our visitors—from the region or from around the world—to experience art in fantastic new ways.”

Before becoming Director of the Dia Art Foundation in 1994, Mr. Govan served as Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for six years. In that capacity, his work involved museums in New York, Venice, and Bilbao. While at the Guggenheim, he organized numerous major exhibitions and produced related scholarly publications, including the multi-disciplinary The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915–1932 and oversaw the re-installation of the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Mr. Govan holds a B.A. in Art History from Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he served as acting curator of the Williams College Museum of Art and organized Picasso and Rembrandt in 1986. Before continuing his studies at the University of San Diego, Govan studied Renaissance art in Italy.

Mr. Govan replaces Andrea L. Rich, who retired as President and Director in November 2005 after ten years. During those years LACMA has been recognized for its development of new public programs, engagement with the diverse greater Los Angeles community, and significant growth of the museum’s collections. In 2003 the museum began a complete transformation, reorganizing its curatorial departments, adding 11 new Board members and launching a multi-million-dollar expansion and unification of LACMA’s facilities and campus, in collaboration with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

During the past decade—a period in unprecedented growth for the museum—the operating budget, which funds exhibitions, programs, facilities, maintenance and presentation of the permanent collection, has increased by 48%, while the museum has consistently operated in the black. The museum’s endowment has risen 155% to $125 million. The capital campaign seeks to more than double the current endowment.

Groundbreaking for the $145-million first phase, designed by Renzo Piano, took place in January 2006. The capital campaign, which encompasses funding for the museum’s endowment and additional phases of the project, has already reached more than $172 million. Mr. Govan, who will guide LACMA as it expands and unifies its campus, collections, and programs, and enhances its resources, will work closely with Melody Kanschat, President and Chief Operating Officer, and the museum curatorial staff.

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