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Salvador Salort-Pons named director of Detroit Institute of Arts - Will take office as the museum’s 11th director on October 15, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Contact: Pamela Marcil   313-833-7899

Salvador Salort-Pons named director of Detroit Institute of Arts - Will take office as the museum’s 11th director on October 15, 2015 
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) board of directors today named Salvador Salort-Pons, an internationally respected curator, scholar and the museum’s executive director of collection strategies and information, as its director, president and CEO, effective October 15, 2015.
Ed Note: There will be a media opportunity at 1:30 p.m. today in the DIA’s Lecture Hall
Salort-Pons has served as director of the museum’s European Art Department since 2011, adding the role of director of collection strategies and information in 2013. He also serves as the Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the DIA and has played a key role in the museum’s strategic planning process, approaching his work with the visitor-centered approach that is a key tenet of the DIA’s vision. He succeeds Graham W. J. Beal, who retired as director of the DIA on June 30.

“Salvador’s scholarship, extensive knowledge of the DIA, his international experience and his management skills make him the ideal choice to lead the DIA in the coming years,” said Gene Gargaro, chair of the DIA board and chair of the search committee. “His success in overseeing one of the most important European art collections in the country was among the many factors that made Salvador such an appealing candidate to the Search committee.

“Two of our leading priorities at the DIA are: (1) expanding our tri-county and statewide outreach and (2) increasing our endowment. Salvador has the skills and experience to lead in both of these key areas. His extensive and intimate knowledge of the DIA’s collections, his interpersonal skills and his relationship with the museum’s current and prospective donor base and other advocates for the DIA will enable Salvador to have an immediate positive impact on the museum’s future direction.”

Salort-Pons said: “I am honored and excited at this opportunity to lead one of the world’s finest museums. Over the last seven years I developed a deep admiration for its outstanding encyclopedic art collection and I have the highest regard for its talented and dedicated staff.

“With the tri-county millage in place and the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy successfully completed, I believe the DIA is poised to move forward in engaging our local and regional communities as well as advancing our international profile. I want to build on our visitor-centered approach, making our extraordinary art collection relevant to broad and diverse audiences. I envision the DIA as both a place for scholarly research and a leader in learning and interpretation, which will provide fresh knowledge, ample accessibility and opportunities to all our communities.

“After all these years working at the DIA, I feel deeply connected to Detroit especially through the role the museum has played as part of the city’s extraordinary history. I look forward to working with our staff, our patrons, our partners in the three-county art authorities and throughout Michigan. I truly believe our greatest years lie ahead of us.”

Gargaro said the decision was made at the conclusion of an extensive nine-month international search process.

“The decision we are announcing today is the product of nine months of diligent work by an experienced and very committed search committee comprised primarily of both current and former museum board members,” he said. “I want to thank the members of the search committee for their untiring efforts as we very carefully evaluated every candidate. The process worked very smoothly because of the dedication and energy that our entire search committee brought to this critical moment in the museum’s history.

“The DIA’s international stature and the exciting post-bankruptcy environment here in Detroit generated significant interest from many well-qualified candidates who expressed a high degree of interest in the position. That we found the right candidate from within our own ranks speaks very positively to the depth of talent we have at our museum.”

For the DIA, Salort-Pons has organized the exhibitions Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries, Five Spanish Masterpieces and was the in-house curator for the show Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus – among others. Prior to coming to Detroit, Salort-Pons was senior curator at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, assistant professor at the University of Madrid and exhibition curator at the Memmo Foundation/Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome. While at the Memmo Foundation, he co-curated Il trionfo del colore: Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza (Rome, 2002) as well as Velázquez (Rome, 2001), which was the first monographic exhibition on the painter ever organized in Italy. Salort-Pons has been the recipient of a Rome Prize Fellowship at the Spanish Academy of Rome and a research fellow at the Royal College of Spain in Bologna (founded in 1364), the Getty Grant Program, the Medici Archive Project in Florence and Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, among others.

In addition to two books—Velázquez en Italia (Madrid, 2002) and Velázquez (Madrid, 2008—Salort-Pons has published a number of scientific articles in British, Spanish and Italian journals and exhibition catalogues. He holds a master’s in geography and history (University of Madrid), a master’s in business administration (Cox School of Business, SMU) and a doctorate in the history of art (University of Bologna).

Salort-Pons, 45, is a native of Madrid, and currently resides in Bloomfield Hills with his wife, Alexandra, and their two children, Piper and Tucker. He and his family plan to move to Detroit soon.


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.