DIA Director Graham Beal Is Stepping Down

Graham Beal 2015 final headshotB

Detroit Institute of Arts announced this morning that longtime president, director, and CEO Graham Beal will step down from his position at the end of June 2015, after having served nearly 16 years in the position. The timing of the news seemed somewhat unusual, since it comes on the heels of a hard-won victory to secure the institution’s multibillion-dollar art collection amid the city’s lengthy, often contentious, and unprecedented bankruptcy proceedings.

Beal’s contract was up more than a year ago, according to the DIA’s public relations director Pam Marcil who told artnet News that he did not want to depart amid the city’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

The fact that city managers were considering the possibility that the DIA art collection could be viewed as an asset amid the bankruptcy case sparked outrage in the local art community and beyond. Now, with the so-called “Grand Bargain” having been recently approved, as well as the institution meeting a key $100 million fundraising goal, the collection is secure from creditors.

“It has certainly been quite a ride with some amazing highs far outweighing the other kind,” said Beal in a statement, “and I want to thank all those whose talents and passion for the DIA helped bring success in so many different areas: among them artistic, scholarly, pedagogical, political and legal. While it is difficult to close this most significant chapter in my professional life, I am delighted that it will end with an exhibition of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s time in Detroit. It has been 10 years since I conceived of the idea for this exhibition and I draw no small pleasure that it will mark my exit as director.”

“Graham has been an invaluable leader who has strengthened the museum in so many ways,” said the chair of DIA’s board Eugene A. Gargaro Jr. Gargaro noted that Beal has led the museum “through extremely challenging economic times, developed international stature and respect for the DIA, strengthened the collection and initiated a culture change that resulted in the museum becoming more accessible to all. We will truly miss Graham’s leadership.”

Gargaro has formed a search committee, consisting mostly of board members and is in the process of interviewing search firms.

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