ANN AND GRAHAM GUND DIRECTOR
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
Malcolm Rogers became Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), in September 1994, a position later endowed as the Ann and Graham Gund Director. Now approaching his 20th year at the Museum, Rogers will become the longest serving director in MFA history in May 2014. During his tenure, Rogers has created a legacy of “opening doors” to the Boston community and global audiences. He has transformed this world-class destination by expanding the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, presenting innovative exhibitions, enhancing arts education programs, enlarging the MFA’s campus and renovating and expanding the Museum’s historic building. Rogers’ initiatives are driven by the MFA’s mission: to serve a variety of people through direct encounters with works of art. This has included renovating and reopening both of the Museum’s historic entrances, which had been closed to the public for many years. In addition, Rogers eliminated admission fees for children 17 and younger, extended the Museum’s hours to 7-days a week (and among the longest of any American art museum), and instituted a series of free community days and cultural events. Approximately 1 million visitors a year are exposed to infinite possibilities for education and inspiration at the Museum.
Under Rogers’ leadership, the Museum underwent a transformative building renovation and expansion, including the Art of the Americas Wing and Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, which opened in 2010. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Foster + Partners (London), these additions enrich the ways in which visitors experience 5,000 of the Museum’s American works of art; increase space for its encyclopedic collection, special exhibitions and educational programs; and improve navigation throughout the building. In addition to the wing and courtyard, highlights of the MFA’s expansion included a new Ann and Graham Gund Gallery for rotating exhibitions, the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center, the Alfond Auditorium and galleries, educational spaces and conservation labs as well as beautification of the Museum’s campus. The MFA’s building project was supported by a campaign that raised $504 million, of which $345 million provided for new construction and renovation of numerous galleries and spaces within the MFA’s existing building. The remaining funds from the campaign have supported the endowment of programs and positions in perpetuity and critical annual operations. (To date, 97 of the Museum’s 143 galleries devoted to works across the collection have been built or renovated.)
Rogers also directed the renovation of the I.M. Pei-designed Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (the MFA’s west-facing wing), which opened in 2011, tripling the Museum’s previous display of contemporary works. Additionally, the renovation added new educational and community classrooms in the Druker Family Pavilion as well as inviting public spaces. Currently, gallery renovations are underway in the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World (named in 2006), including the Krupp Gallery dedicated to Homer and the Epics and two additional galleries dedicated to wine and performers in Ancient Greece (opening in September 2014). The Museum’s purchase (in 2007) of the neighboring Forsyth Institute building will enable a new curatorial study center and further expansion of the Museum’s campus in years to come.
Over Rogers’ nearly 20 years at the MFA, more than 375 exhibitions have been presented at the Museum, ranging from old masters (Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter–Draftsman–Etcher, 2003 and El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, 2008) and masters of photography (Ansel Adams, 2005 and Ori Gersht: History Repeating, 2012), to Egyptian treasures (Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, 1999) and Chinese painting (Tales from the Land of Dragons: 1000 Years of Chinese Painting, 1997). Other acclaimed exhibitions include Degas and the Nude (2011), Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (2009), Americans in Paris, 1869–1900 (2006) and Monet in the 20th Century (1998). Groundbreaking exhibitions that redefined “fine art” and appealed to new audiences included Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass (2011), Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection (2005), Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar (2000) and Herb Ritts: Work (1996). In 2013 alone, the diversity of exhibitions included John Singer Sargent Watercolors, Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane, She Who Tells A Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World and Hippie Chic. The Museum’s first “crowdsourced” exhibition, Boston Loves Impressionism, debuted in February 2014, representing 41,497 online votes from the public.
Other global initiatives have included the expansion of the MFA’s traveling exhibition program, and a partnership with a sister museum in Japan, the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which opened in 1999. Rogers played a key role in fostering a relationship with the Italian cultural ministry that has resulted in the creation of guidelines to protect antiquities, as well as cultural exchange in the areas of exhibitions, scholarship and conservation. Rogers’ desire to make the Museum’s collection internationally accessible has spurred the development of the MFA’s online collections database at , which features nearly all of the Museum’s 450,000 works of art, and is one of the largest online art museum collections in the world. Of note is the MFA’s Japanese print documentation and access project, which is making approximately 50,000 Japanese prints available on , where they are available for scholars and novices to study and enjoy. MFA Publications also extends the Museum’s sphere of influence with publications featuring its collections and exhibitions, publishing more than 100 new titles in the past decade.
Rogers has expanded the Museum’s encyclopedic collection with nearly 68,000 acquisitions, enhancing the breadth and importance of the Museum’s holdings with major additions of 19th and 20th century photography, paintings and works on paper (Lane Collection) and West African art from the Kingdom of Benin (Robert Owen Lehman Collection), both acquired in 2012. Additional noteworthy acquisitions and transformative gifts of art that have grown the collection in new directions include Judaica (Charles and Lynn Schusterman Collection), English silver (Alan and Simone Hartman Collection), African, Oceanic, Ancient American and Native American art (Bequest of William E. Teel), works by African American artists (John Axelrod Collection), European ceramics (Kiyi and Edward M. Pflueger Collection), contemporary craft (Daphne Farago Collection, Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Collection and Stanley and Mary Ann Snider Collection), illustration, fashion, photography, design and Japanese art (Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection), visual culture (Leonard A. Lauder Collection), modern and contemporary art (Melvin Blake and Frank Purnell Collection) and a comprehensive collection of the work of photographer Yousuf Karsh, a gift that also includes curatorial and programming endowments. Additional acquisitions include the archives of contemporary artists Michael Mazur, Alex Katz and Jim Dine, and fashion designer Arnold Scaasi.
Rogers has also continued to build the collection with individual acquisitions, including Edgar Degas’ Duchessa di Montejasi with Her Daughters, Elena and Camilla (about 1876); Gustave Caillebotte’s Man at His Bath (1884); Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Yellow, and Red (1927); Vessel in the form of a hare (about 6400-5900 BC), possibly the oldest work of art in the MFA’s collection; a massive silver Cistern and Fountain (1708–09) marked by David Willaume I (about 1658–1741); Blue Green Yellow Orange Red (1968) by Ellsworth Kelly; Anish Kapoor’s Untitled (Shu-red) (2007); Garrowby Hill (1998), a landscape painting by David Hockney; Head of a nobleman (“The Josephson Head”) (about 1878–1841 BC), one of the finest non-royal sculptures of the late Middle Kingdom; an anonymous gift of Joachim Fries’ Diana and Stag Automaton (about 1610-20), which goes on view in the new Kunstkammer Gallery in June 2014; Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism (2007) by Josiah McElheny; and one of the Museum’s most notable examples of Colonial craftsmanship, View of Boston Common (about 1750), an embroidery by Hannah Otis.
Major conservation projects at the Museum have included the restoration of the iconic John Singer Sargent murals in the Museum’s Colonnade and Rotunda, the reconstruction of the Marine mosaic (200–230 AD) from the ancient city of Antioch, and the conservation and installation of the monumental Roman statue Juno-purchased for the Museum by an anonymous donor and dating from the early 2nd century AD.
Rogers was educated at Oxford University, where he received both a Bachelor of Arts (1st class Honors) in English Language and Literature and a D.Phil. In 2012, Rogers was invited to be the Humanitas Visiting Professor in Museums, Galleries and Libraries. Prior to his arrival at the MFA, he served as Deputy Director and Deputy Keeper at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Rogers is an authority on 16th-, 17th-, and early 18th-century portraits, and has written extensively on Van Dyck’s English period, on photography and on London and its museums. Rogers is a Great Benefactor at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a Trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Lyric Opera.
His contributions to the international cultural community have garnered him numerous recognitions, including Commander, Order of the British Empire (given by HM The Queen); Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters, presented by the Ambassador of France to the United States); Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Commander of the Order to the Merit of the Italian Republic, presented by the President of the Italian Republic); Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica (Knight-commander in the Order of Isabella the Catholic, bestowed on behalf of His Royal Highness King Juan Carlos I of Spain); Foundation for Italian Art and Culture (FIAC) Excellency Award for 2010; American Academy of Arts and Sciences (member); Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (Emmanuel College, Boston); an Award of Merit (The British Society); the Third Lantern Award from the Old North Foundation; 2014 Massachusetts Governor’s Award in the Humanities; Lowell Lecture Speaker (Harvard University); Exceptional Spirit Honoree (Fenway Alliance).