Departure of Chris Bedford, Director of the Rose Art Museum
May 2, 2016
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
With mixed emotions, I write to announce that Christopher Bedford, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum, will be leaving Brandeis on July 31 to become the next director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
We all know how much the Rose and Brandeis have benefited from Chris’ visionary leadership. The museum is in a much stronger place than it was when he arrived on campus in September 2012. Chris has helped establish the Rose as one of the world’s premier university museums dedicated to 20th- and 21st-century art. He has integrated the museum with the university in ways that foster exhilarating and thought-provoking experiences for the Brandeis community and beyond.
Lizbeth Krupp, chair of the Rose board of advisors since 2013, has worked closely with Chris to keep the values of the museum and the university in close alignment. “Chris made sure the programs at the Rose always reflected Brandeisian values of social justice while also enhancing the work that was happening in academic departments all across the campus,” she says. “This idea of collaboration as a fundamental principle has been etched into our mission. Of course, the Rose will continue to exhibit, collect and educate at the highest levels of excellence, but Chris will be sorely missed. He has been a great partner and friend, and we all wish him only the best.”
Among Chris’ accomplishments during his time at the Rose was building an experienced, creative leadership team. On August 1, deputy director Kristin Parker, who has worked at the Rose for six years, will become the museum’s interim director. She; Kim Conaty, who joined the Rose as curator in December; and the rest of the exemplary Rose staff will be active, knowledgeable stewards of the museum’s collection, exhibitions and outreach.
The university will now begin the search process for the next director of the Rose. The search committee will be composed of representatives from the Rose’s board of advisors, the faculty and staff, the student body, and the Brandeis University Board of Trustees.
The Rose will retain its commissioning and curatorial role at the 2017 Venice Biennale’s U.S. Pavilion, which will showcase the work of abstract painter Mark Bradford. Likewise, Chris will continue as commissioner of the Biennale exhibition even after he moves to his new position at the Baltimore Museum of Art. We look forward to this continuing relationship with Chris, which will include his working with Brandeis students and faculty on the preparations for the Biennale. The Rose’s selection as the U.S. Pavilion curator, the culmination of an intensive effort that Chris managed, is widely acknowledged as a coup in the international art world.
Perry Traquina ’78, chair of the Brandeis Board of Trustees, says, “The installation of the ‘Light of Reason’ sculpture as a public-art portal to the Rose represents how Chris saw the museum — as a beacon that could illuminate both the art world and this university’s bold, ambitious ideals.”
Having the chance to direct the Baltimore Museum of Art is a wonderful, much-deserved opportunity for Chris. Founded in 1914, the museum is home to more than 90,000 works, from artifacts created by ancient cultures to contemporary masterpieces. Over the past two years, the museum completed a $28 million building renovation that revitalized exhibition spaces, improved research and teaching, and allows the use of new technologies.
Chris stood at the Rose’s helm during a transformational chapter in its life. Today, the museum’s uncertain days are behind it. It has a vigorous, engaged board of advisors, and a renewed well of support from the university, the art world and the community. Its visibility and standing have never been higher.
One of the world’s best university art museums, the Rose is charting an ambitious course to become an even greater one. We thank Chris for everything he has done to help us move farther along that trajectory and look forward to seeing all that he will accomplish in this next stage of his career.
Lisa M. Lynch