The High Museum of Art has announced the appointment of Kevin W. Tucker as chief curator today. Tucker replaces David Brenneman, who left to become the director of Indiana University’s Art Museum in the spring of 2015. The Museum has yet to fill Brett Abbott’s position as Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography. Abbott departed in late October to become the director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
When Tucker assumes this role on June 1, he will direct the High’s curatorial program and oversee installation, interpretation and research and development of the permanent collection. Additionally, he will work with the executive staff and across curatorial departments to develop plans for a reinstallation of the permanent collection galleries in 2018 and to organize an ambitious schedule of special exhibitions, including the 30 percent increased footprint of the folk and self-taught art galleries to accommodate for the large acquisition recently made by the institution from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
Tucker is no stranger to reinstallations of this sort — he most recently served as the founding director of the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement currently under development in St. Petersburg, Florida. He worked with the Two Red Roses Foundation and its architects and designers to develop plans for a 137,000-square-foot facility dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the foundation’s collection of early-20th-century craft, photography, paintings and other works.
“As an institution, we are committed to growing and strengthening our collection and deepening our connection to the community through compelling and diverse exhibitions, installations and programming. Kevin’s proven accomplishments and extensive experience as a curator and museum professional, coupled with his track record of successful collaboration among colleagues and peer institutions, make him a wonderful fit for the leadership team as we focus on these goals,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “With his strong connections to the South, he also brings an important appreciation for and understanding of our region’s cultural heritage, which is essential to our work.”
From 2003 to 2015, Tucker served as Margot B. Perot senior curator of decorative arts and design at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). During his tenure, Tucker led numerous national and international collaborations to develop the museum’s program of modern and contemporary design. Working with such institutions as the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, he organized more than 20 exhibitions, including Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine (2015), Form/Unformed (2013), Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement (2010), and Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design (2005). Including catalogs for the aforementioned exhibitions, he has also published and lectured extensively on the subject of modernist and early-20th-century design.
Additionally, Tucker oversaw an active development program for acquisitions and exhibitions, launching collection support groups and spearheading projects such as the 2011 presentation of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which inaugurated the expansion of the DMA’s fashion and jewelry program. Tucker’s other achievements at the DMA include conceiving and overseeing the reinstallation of the museum’s American decorative arts holdings, which included new galleries dedicated to 19th-century American silver and 20th-century design to showcase the strengths of those growing collections. He also more than doubled his department’s acquisitions endowment during his tenure.
Prior to joining the DMA, Tucker served as chief curator and deputy director of the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina (CMA) from 2002 to 2003, where he had previously been the curator of decorative arts. He was responsible for the most significant growth in the decorative arts collections in the museum’s history and was instrumental in the installation of the museum’s collections within a new 90,000-square-foot facility, completed in 1998. In addition to his work in South Carolina, Tucker served as the curator of decorative arts and Owens-Thomas House at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia (1999–2000).
“I am honored and excited to have this opportunity, as I have long admired the achievements and reputation of the High Museum of Art and the vitality of the city of Atlanta,” said Tucker. “As a professional equally committed to community engagement and scholarly distinction, I look forward to working with Rand Suffolk and the museum’s exceptionally talented staff to lead new collaborative efforts to further both the reach and excellence of the High’s collections, exhibitions and other curatorial endeavors.”
Tucker’s appointment doesn’t mark the only change in leadership, though. Though the Woodruff Arts Center has yet to announce the successor of Virginia Hepner as their CEO, the center’s Board of Trustees have elected eight new trustees, two new life trustees and elected Phil Jacobs, a retired Bell South/AT&T executive, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, succeeding Doug Hertz.
The newly elected trustees are: Heath W. Campbell, Regional President, Northern Georgia Region, of BB&T; Jack Markwalter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Trust; Suzanne Tucker Plybon, Partner of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP; Mike J. Sivewright, Market Director Atlanta of Jones Lang LaSalle; and Stacey Tank, Corporate Communications and External Affairs of The Home Depot.
“We are fortunate that these distinguished leaders will be joining our board and contributing their time and resources to support the Woodruff Arts Center,” said Mr. Jacobs. “The Arts Center is a critical asset for our city and a central part of a vibrant arts community in Atlanta. All of us on the Board look forward to building on that success in the years ahead.”
Lynda Bradbury Courts and Solon Patterson were elected life trustees, a designation given to extraordinary Board members as recognition for their outstanding dedication and service to the organization.
“Lynda and Solon have been a critical part of the success of the Arts Center over many years,” said Mr. Hertz. “We will always be grateful to them for all they have done to support the Arts Center and the arts in general.”
The Board of Trustees also honored outgoing trustees who have completed their terms of service: Paul Bowers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Power Company; Mary Cahill, Vice President of Investments and Chief Investment Officer of Emory University; Michael (Mike) S. Donnelly, Regional President, Atlanta of Wells Fargo Bank; Ernest LaMont Greer, Managing Regional Partner and Co-President of Greenberg Traurig; Steve Koonin, Chief Executive Officer of Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena; Kurt Kuehn, Former Senior Vice President and Retired Chief Financial Officer of UPS, Inc; Bertram Levy, Partner of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP; Penelope (Penny) McPhee, President of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; Julie Miller-Phipps, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Kaiser Permanente, Orange County; S. Stephen (Steve) Selig III, President and Chief Executive Officer of Selig Enterprises, Inc.; and Beth Shiroishi, Vice President-Global Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy and Insights, AT&T.