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Detroit Institute of Arts Announces Four Key Appointments

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

December 15, 2004 (Detroit)—Graham W. J. Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) today announced four key staff appointments at the museum: Kenneth Myers, curator and department head of American art; Joseph Cunningham, curator and department head of Contemporary art; Pedro Moura Carvalho, curator and department head of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian art; and Glenn Gates, research scientist in the Conservation Services Laboratory. The appointments bring new programmatic and scholarly talent to key areas of the DIA. The curators were secured through the museum consulting firm Thomas and Associates of New York City.

The DIA’s eight curatorial departments are: European art; American art; Contemporary art; Middle Eastern, Islamic and Asian art; Africa, Oceania and the Indigenous Americas; the General Motors Center for African American art; Graphic Arts; and Film and Video. The DIA reorganized the curatorial division in fall 2003 as part of a strategic planning process to support the museum’s ongoing renovation and expansion, and the reinstallation of the entire collection, which will be completed in 2007. Designed by Michael Graves & Associates, the Master Plan Project will provide enhanced gallery spaces, infrastructure improvements, new visitor amenities and, as part of the reinstallation, new interpretive tools for visitors that will encourage direct engagement with the art.

DIA director. “We are transforming the DIA into a more accessible, visitor-centered and dynamic art museum for the 21st century, and these appointments will contribute significant experience and fresh perspectives to this process. Our outstanding collection, together with the rare opportunity to take part in the reinstallation, attracted these stellar candidates to the Detroit Institute of Arts. We are thrilled to have them on board.”

Kenneth Myers, curator and department head, American art
Kenneth Myers comes to the DIA from the Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, a division of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. where he served as associate curator of American art. While at the Freer, Myers curated many exhibitions, including the recent popular and critical hit Mr. Whistler’s Galleries: Avant Garde in Victorian London. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Myers served as assistant director of Research and Publications at the New Jersey Historical Society, and was a senior fellow in the department of American Painting and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Myers will join the DIA staff in March 2005, and will head a department of four.

Myers has written several books, including Mr. Whistler’s Gallery: Pictures at an 1884 Exhibition, and The Catskills: Painters, Writers, and Tourists in the Mountains, 1820-1895. He has contributed articles to numerous scholarly and popular publications including the Art Bulletin, the Yale Review, The Magazine Antiques, and American Art Review. Myers earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his master’s and doctorate in American Studies at Yale University.

The DIA’s American art collection is regarded as one of the top five in the country and covers a broad range of artistic endeavors spanning the early Colonial period through the first half of the 20th century. Its major strength is the painting collection, with works such as John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark; Frederic Edwin Church’s Cotopaxi, and James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket.

“One reason for moving to the DIA now is the chance to spend the next two years working on the reinstallation of the museum’s fabulous collection of American art,” says Myers. “I am ready and eager to take on that challenge, and look forward to playing a leading role in shaping the reinstallation of the American collection.”

Joseph Cunningham, curator and department head, Contemporary art
Joseph Cunningham joined the DIA on Nov. 30, 2004 and heads a department of three. Since 2001, Cunningham has served as curator of American Decorative Art 1900, a private collection New York of American early modern design. He is guest curator of the forthcoming exhibition Minimalist Art Now, which opens at the Elvehjem Museum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in February 2005. Cunningham is also co-curator (with Barbara Bloemink) of the exhibition Design ∫ Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread, currently on view at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, and co-author of the accompanying exhibition catalogue. His other publications include scholarly articles on John Cage, Agnes Martin and Robert Smithson, as well as Gertrude Stein and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Cunningham earned a bachelor of arts in Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received a doctorate in Philosophy from the City University of New York Graduate Center.
The DIA’s Contemporary collection encompasses works in all media in the Western tradition from the 20th into the 21st century. The important influence of American painters after World War II is documented by strong holdings of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art. The DIA also collects work by young artists, including installation art and video, a well as contemporary studio movements in glass and turned wood.

“Having visited the museum many times, I know well the DIA’s extraordinary collections from early Modern through Contemporary fine art to American paintings and decorative arts, “ says Cunningham. “It is a privilege to work with such an important collection of post-war and contemporary art at an institution with such a rich history of collecting and exhibiting great art of the past and present.”

Pedro Moura Carvalho, curator and department head, Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian art
Pedro Moura Carvalho will join the DIA in May 2005 and head a department of three. Carvalho comes to the DIA from his position of deputy curator of the Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London. He is part of a team of three curators responsible for what is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Islamic art. Carvalho also curated the exhibition The World of Lacquer, 2000 Years of History, at the Calouste Gyulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, and edited its catalogue. More recently, he has been involved in the planning and installment of two exhibitions in London: Ornements de la Perse, Islamic Patterns in 19th-Century Europe from the Khalili Collection at Leighton House Museum, London, and Heaven on Earth, Art from the Islamic Lands: Works from The State Hermitage Museum and the Khalili Collection at Somerset House, London. He is co-author of the forthcoming catalogue of the Khalili Collection entitled Gems and Jewels of Mughal India and has contributed to several exhibition catalogues and academic periodicals including Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorichen Museums, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, Oriental Art Magazine, and Murqarnas.

Carvalho earned his master’s degree and doctorate in Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. He also has a diploma in Asian Arts from SOAS and a diploma in History of the Decorative Arts from the Institute per l’Arte e il Restauro, Palazzo Spinelli, Florence. He speaks five languages, is currently learning Arabic, and has traveled extensively in North Africa, Asia, India, China and the Middle East.

The Department of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian Art encompasses works from the major cultures of the ancient Near East as well as Islamic Art from all parts of the Muslim world and the arts of Asia. The collections span over 6000 years and represent a survey of the history of artistic accomplishment from early Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Iran in the Near East, to Islamic manuscripts and Asian sculptures and ceramics. The collection includes Assyrian relief carvings and important examples of Islamic decorative arts, especially the art of the book.

“I can hardly think of a better time to join a major museum like the DIA,” says Carvalho. “I am also looking forward, as curator of Islamic art, to work on projects involving the local communities of Americans of Middle Eastern origin, whose many diverse interests and expectations will be as stimulating and rewarding as the reinstallation of the new galleries.”

Glenn Gates, research scientist, Conservation Services Laboratory
Glenn Gates will be joining the DIA’s Conservation department in February 2005. He is currently completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Conservation Science at the Strauss Center for Conservation, an arm of the Harvard University Art Museums, where he has been for the past two years. Gates was formerly a research assistant in the Scientific Research department at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in the science department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Gates has a bachelor of arts in Chemistry from New College, Sarasota, Florida, a master of science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a doctorate in Physical Chemistry from the University of South Florida, Tampa.The DIA’s 10,000-square-foot Conservation Services Laboratory is one of the most sophisticated facilities of its kind in the United States. Its highly trained specialists provide documentation, research, examination and treatment for artworks in the DIA and over 30 other museums in Michigan. The Conservation department also monitors temperature and humidity in the galleries, designs and constructs mounts for artworks, and provides technical photography.

&“I look forward to joining the Conservation department’s esteemed staff,” said Gates, “and I welcome the wonderful opportunity to focus analyses on the DIA’s extraordinary collection.”

About the Detroit Institute of Arts
Located in the heart of Detroit’s Cultural Center, the DIA was founded in 1885 and is recognized as one of the country’s premier arts museums. The museum’s approximately 60,000 works of art comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from prehistory through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals, the DIA’s collection reveals the scope and depth of human experience, imagination, and emotion.