Taylor, director of Princeton University Art Museum, to leave
Posted February 4, 2008; 02:00 p.m.
Susan M. Taylor, director of the Princeton University Art Museum since 2000, will leave her position at the end of this academic year after having led the museum through a period of significant transformation and growth. Taylor came to Princeton after serving for 12 years as director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College.
"Susan Taylor has led Princeton's museum at a critical moment for the arts," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "She has increased the visibility of the museum locally, nationally and internationally, and she has strengthened the museum as a teaching center for the University, a focal point for research and scholarship, and a vital resource for students, scholars and the general public. We are grateful for Susan's contributions, and we wish her every success as she pursues new opportunities in the years ahead."
As museum director, Taylor oversaw the establishment of new curatorial departments for education and academic programming, modern and contemporary art, and American art, as well as the endowment of four curator positions and several program funds. The museum's permanent collections have grown in quality and depth in all areas, and the museum has extended the scope of its collaborations with faculty and students beyond art history and studio art to include many departments of the University.
During Taylor's tenure, the museum pursued an ambitious exhibition program, the highlights of which have included "The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art"; "Recarving China's Past: Art, Archaeology and Architecture of the 'Wu Family Shrines'"; "West to Wesselman: American Drawings and Watercolors in the Princeton University Art Museum"; and "Pop Art at Princeton: Permanent and Promised." It also launched a new collection monograph series and published the first comprehensive handbook of the permanent collection, which will be celebrated by an exhibition, "An Educated Eye: Princeton University Art Museum Collections," that is opening this month on the occasion of the museum's 125th anniversary. Taylor also developed a program for commissioned work in public places on campus, working with such artists as the late Sol LeWitt, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Jim Isermann.
Last fall Taylor and Senior University Counsel Lorraine Sciarra successfully completed negotiations with the Italian government, resolving the ownership of 15 works of ancient art in the museum's collections. Under the agreement, the Italian government will lend culturally significant works of art to Princeton, and Princeton students will enjoy unprecedented access to Italian archaeological sites for study and research.
Taylor serves on the boards and committees of many professional organizations, including the American Federation of Arts where she chairs the exhibition committee, and the visiting committee of the Frances Lehman Loeb Arts Center at Vassar College, and she currently serves on two task forces for the Association of Art Museum Directors. She also currently is working with the Getty Leadership Institute on issues of cultural property and leadership development for the museum field. At Princeton she has served on the advisory committee for the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, the President's Advisory Committee on Architecture and the President's Task Force on the Creative and Performing Arts.
Taylor currently is on leave through June 30. Rebecca Sender, associate director of the museum, has been serving as the museum's acting director since Jan. 1, and she will continue to serve in that role.
"It has been a full and satisfying eight years -- a lengthy tenure for any museum director -- but I am taking advantage of this time to turn my attention to pressing family matters and to consider other professional opportunities," Taylor said. "I leave Princeton with the warmest feelings toward the University and my museum and faculty colleagues."
The search for Taylor's successor will be conducted by a committee chaired by Professor Emeritus John Wilmerding, who was the Christopher Binyon Sarofim '86 Professor of American Art at Princeton until his retirement in the summer of 2007. Prior to joining the faculty of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton in 1988, Wilmerding was curator of American art and senior curator at the National Gallery of Art from 1977 to 1983, and deputy director from 1983 to 1988.