March 31, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 13

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    New director brings 20 years of experience to Smart Museum of Art

    By Jennifer Carnig
    News Office

    After an extensive national search, the University has appointed Anthony Hirschel the Dana Feitler Director of the David & Alfred Smart Museum of Art at the University.

    Hirschel, who previously served as the director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and who has 20 years of museum and teaching experience, will begin his appointment in June.

    “We are delighted to welcome Tony Hirschel to Chicago to lead the Smart in its continuing commitment to excellence in promoting the understanding of the visual arts among a range of audiences,” said Richard Saller, Provost of the University. “As director, he will guide an ambitious new phase of growth that builds on the Smart’s impressive successes during the last several years.”

    In addition to further raising the Smart’s profile and strengthening its collections, programs and governing infrastructure, Hirschel also will oversee planning and development efforts for an expansion of the museum’s facilities, Saller said.

    “I am very pleased to be joining the Smart Museum of Art at this critical point in its history,” Hirschel said. “It is an honor to have been invited to lead so vibrant an institution. The Smart’s legacy of stimulating collaborations in its own community and around the world offers rich possibilities for future projects. I could not be more enthusiastic about the museum’s prospects, and I am eager to begin.”

    As the director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art from 2001 to 2004, Hirschel oversaw a $220 million capital campaign. Over this same period, the museum organized several national and international touring exhibitions, including “Asia in America: Views of Art from the Indianapolis Museum of Art;” “Giovanni Bellini and the Art of Devotion;” and “The Fabric of Moroccan Life.” The museum also made several acquisitions that further enhanced its world-renowned collections, including those of Chinese and neo-impressionist paintings.

    Hirschel also brings with him to the Smart an understanding of the unique role of university art museums. Prior to his tenure in Indianapolis, Hirschel served as the director of the Michael C. Carols Museum at Emory University. While there, he led a successful effort to acquire the most important collection of ancient Egyptian funerary art to come on the market in the last half-century, and then reinstalled its Egyptian galleries in collaboration with architect Michael Graves.

    At Emory and previously as director of the Bayly Art Museum at the University of Virginia, Hirschel worked in consultation with faculty, administrators and student groups to expand and integrate the museum’s activities with university life.

    “Tony is exactly the right person coming to the Smart at exactly the right time,” said Richard Gray, chairman of the Smart Museum’s board of governors. “Having propelled the Smart into the first rank of university museums during the last decade, the board of governors looks forward to working with him to maintain its momentum.”

    Hirschel earned his B.A. in European history and art history from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where he also served as assistant director of Yale’s Art Gallery.

    Hirschel is an alumnus of the Museum Management Institute, now known as the Getty Leadership Institute, a prestigious professional development program, which the American Federation of Arts operates. Additionally, he has been a trustee of the American Federation of Arts since 1999, and a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors from 2002 to 2004.