Ian Wardropper Named Next Director of the Frick

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on May 27, 2011

Press release (19 May 2011) from The Frick Collection:

The Board of Trustees of The Frick Collection announced the appointment of Ian Bruce Wardropper as the next Director of the institution. Dr. Wardropper, currently Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Chairman, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will take up the post as of October 3, 2011, with the retirement of the Frick’s Director of eight years, Anne L. Poulet. Wardropper will be responsible for the overall vision of The Frick Collection, which includes the Frick Art Reference Library. Comments Margot Bogert, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, “We are delighted to welcome Ian Wardropper to The Frick Collection as its next Director. He comes to the institution with a significant and nuanced combination of experience as a scholar and curator in areas that relate beautifully to the holdings of the Frick. As an administrator over large collections and staffs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and previously at The Art Institute of Chicago, Ian Wardropper played an increasingly involved role―along with Directors, Trustees, and Development colleagues―in the fundraising efforts required of large-scale projects, among them the multimillion-dollar renovation of the former institution’s Wrightsman Galleries in 2006–7. His top-down involvement in such successful and well-received initiatives, his relationships with collectors and donors, and his appreciation for the high standards and values espoused by the Frick, inspire great confidence in us today as we share this wonderful news.”

Adds Wardropper, “Since my earliest years as an art history graduate student in New York, The Frick, for me, has represented the highest standards of art display, research, and programs as well as the ideal institutional size in which to experience them. Decades later, it maintains this exemplary role, while expanding an impressive exhibition program, producing a rich body of publications and educational offerings, and furthering the Library’s already rich research initiatives and resources. With all these observations in mind, I embrace the opportunity to join the Frick as its Director, all the more so, as I have found great satisfaction over the years in nurturing and supporting the activities of departmental and museum colleagues and in serving the larger agenda and mission. I look forward to the task of maintaining institutional excellence and the challenge of renewing programs.”

Currently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ian Wardropper holds the position of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Chairman of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts; from 2001 to 2005, he was Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Curator in Charge of the same department, which consists of about 60,000 objects dating from the beginning of the Renaissance in the fifteenth century through the start of Modernism in the twentieth. Department holdings are divided between sixty galleries and period rooms as well as storage facilities. During this decade, he directed a major reinstallation of the Wrightsman Galleries of French Decorative Art, a partial redesign of the Annie Laurie Aitken Galleries of English Decorative Arts, a reinstallation of the Carroll and Milton Petrie Court, and a new presentation of the Italian Renaissance Bronzes Gallery. The creation of a department showcase, now endowed as the Wrightsman Exhibition Gallery, has reinvigorated its display program by featuring shows from the collection. He has encouraged curators to produce major exhibitions with notable successes in the fields of tapestry, sculpture, and decorative arts as well as innovative collaborations with the Costume Institute. Under his direction, departmental acquisitions have notably strengthened, nine international symposia have been organized, a number of audio and other programs were developed in conjunction with the Education Department, and he promoted or hired five curators. Wardropper also served the museum as a member of various committees, among them the Director’s Council (2005–8); Task Force on Efficiencies and Procedures: Head (2002); Grants (2002–5); Budget Planning (2007); Forum of Curators, Conservators, and Scientists: Chairman (2006–7) and delegate to the Board of Trustees (2007–8). Nationally, he has been a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Advisory Panel on Indemnity (1998–2001) and Exhibitions (1993, 1998) and a trustee of the Association of American Museum Curators (2006–9); internationally, he is on an exhibition committee of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (2010–present). During his tenure, publications kept pace with the exhibition program, and several catalogues won awards; scholarly catalogues on Italian Renaissance bronzes and maiolica are under way; and five volumes of a series on department highlights are in process.

Wardropper spent nearly twenty years at The Art Institute of Chicago, where he held positions of increasing responsibility and scope. He was Eloise W. Martin Curator and Department Head, European Decorative Arts and Sculpture and Ancient Art (1989–2001); European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Associate Curator (1985–89); and European Painting and Sculpture, Assistant Curator (1982–85). While department head at the Art Institute, the collections under his responsibility grew to include ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art and the Harding Collection of Arms and Armor in addition to its core of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture from medieval times to the present. He participated in several major reinstallations, notably the Allerton Building Painting and Sculpture Galleries and the Rice Building Galleries of European Decorative Arts, and directed the creation of new Galleries of Ancient Art. Wardropper attracted a number of important collections, including the Alsdorf Collection of Renaissance Jewelry and the Rosenthal Collection of nineteenth-century sculpture, both installed in endowed galleries. He negotiated three endowed curatorships, one for decorative arts, especially ceramics, one for ancient art, and a third now transferred to modern design. He also initiated a number of traveling exhibitions on subjects ranging from Italian baroque terracottas from the Hermitage to Soviet propaganda porcelain, and installed many exhibitions, notably The Vatican Collections, in scope and attendance the largest exhibition at that point in the Institute’s history.

A long and varied list of books and acclaimed exhibition-related catalogues were published during Ian Wardropper’s tenures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) and The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). In fall 2011 European Sculpture, 1400–1900, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will appear, followed in fall 2012 by Bernini Models in Clay, an exhibition planned in collaboration with the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Past volumes include Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from the Renaissance to Revolution (2008–9), Louvre, MMA, J. Paul Getty Museum (served on the organizing committee); Art of the Royal Court: Treasures in Pietra Dure from the Palaces of Europe (with Wolfram Koeppe and Annamaria Giusti), (2008), MMA, which Apollo Magazine named Exhibition of the Year; Dangerous Liaisons (participating curator), (2004), MMA; Princely Splendor: The Dresden Court 1580–1620 (organizing committee), (2004), MMA, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Palazzo Ruspoli, Rome; The Legacy of Michelangelo: The Medici and Late Renaissance Art (organizing committee), (2002), Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; AIC; Detroit Institute of Arts; Bernini’s Rome: Italian Baroque Terracottas from the State Hermitage (1997), AIC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art; Chiseled with a Brush: Italian Sculpture from the Gilgore Collection, (1994), AIC and Denver Art Museum; Medieval Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago (co-curator with Timothy Husband), (1990), Hermitage, Leningrad; Pushkin, Moscow.

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