Harvard Art Museums Director Tom Lentz to Step Down

Thomas Lentz. Photo by Stephanie Mitchell for Harvard University.

The newly renovated Harvard Art Museums will soon be in need of a director. The Boston Globe reports that Tom Lentz will step down at the beginning of July after a dozen years on the job.

The revamped museums made their debut in November, with a large Ai Weiwei photo installation and a suite of forgotten Mark Rothko paintings restored through light-based conservation (see Ai Weiwei’s “258 Fakes” Greets Visitors to Harvard Art Museums and Harvard to Unveil Forgotten Mark Rothko Murals). The museums are meant to serve as teaching tools, with prominent spaces for conservation, an art study centers, and galleries for teacher- and student-run exhibitions.

“I came to Harvard thinking much of my work would be centered on infrastructure issues at our historic building at 32 Quincy Street,” wrote Lentz in a statement announcing his resignation, referring to the Fogg Art Museum‘s leaky roof and lack of climate control prior to the renovations. “While that did occur, what we really pursued was something quite different: a complete re-imagining of our institution and its re-alignment with the academic mission of Harvard University.”

Though early reviews have been critical of certain elements of Renzo Piano‘s design as they relate to Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (see Critics Trash Renzo Piano’s Harvard Museums Expansion), Lenz has been widely praised for his leadership on the ambitious project. “He’s done a wonderful, wonderful job,” Michael Conforti, the director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, told the Globe. “It’s not exactly been a smooth ride, but he’s pulled it together, and he’s done it unbelievably elegantly. It is an extraordinary achievement.”

Lentz is not the only director to announce their departure after the completion of a major project. In Detroit, Graham Beal, the Detroit Institute of Arts‘s president, director, and CEO, announced his retirement earlier this month (see DIA Director Graham Beal Is Stepping Down), following the embattled museum’s victory in its fight to protect its art collection from the bankrupt city’s collectors (see Detroit Institute of Arts Reaches $100 Million Grand Bargain Goal). At the Chrysler Art Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, museum director Bill Hennessey also retired following last year’s museum expansion (see Tuned Up Chrysler Museum Shines in Virginia).

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