Randall Suffolk Appointed Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of High Museum of Art
July 29, 2015
ATLANTA, July 29, 2015 – The High Museum of Art announced today that Randall Suffolk has been appointed its Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director. Suffolk, who is currently director and president of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla., succeeds Michael E. Shapiro, who will step down on July 31, 2015 after 15 transformative years as the High’s director. Suffolk will assume his role at the High on Nov. 2, 2015. He was selected after an international search overseen by a committee appointed by the High’s Board.
Suffolk brings more than 20 years of experience as a museum professional to the High, including 15 years as a director. Since joining the Philbrook Museum of Art in 2007, Suffolk has significantly enhanced the Museum’s engagement with its community through the design and implementation of a comprehensive plan that aligned its programming with the interests of Tulsa residents. This initiative resulted in a 63 percent increase in attendance; 293 percent growth in educational program participation; and a 22 percent rise in membership. The success of this institutional strategy and program was nationally recognized in a 2013 study led by independent researchers Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in which Philbrook was named one of six organizations that contribute greatly to their communities while fostering the financial capacity to thrive.
“Rand is a visionary director who understands how to create dynamic connections between museums and the audiences they serve. His proven track record of affecting real change with measurable impact makes him an ideal choice to build upon and deepen the High’s strong relationship with the city of Atlanta, and the greater Southeast. At the same time he has demonstrated his ability to maintain the financial and institutional leadership required to support the museum’s ongoing growth,” said Charles Abney, Chair of the Board of the High Museum of Art. “We are thrilled that he will have the opportunity to build upon the incredible foundation the High has to offer.”
In order to better meet the needs of the Tulsa community, and ensure the continuing vitality of Philbrook, Suffolk initiated a reorganization of the museum that established new education, curatorial and communications departments. He grew the operating budget by 40 percent; grew the permanent collection by more than 24 percent by adding 2,800 new works; and spearheaded the planning for Philbrook Downtown, a 30,000 square foot satellite facility designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, which opened in 2013. The space extended the programming in Philbrook’s main building with galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The new space is also home of the Eugene B. Adkins Study Center for Native American and Southwestern Art, which was founded under Suffolk’s leadership.
“I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next director of the High Museum of Art,” said Suffolk. “The values of Michael Shapiro and his team resonate greatly with my goals as a museum director, and they have set an outstanding precedent for ensuring visitor engagement. I look forward to joining the incredible staff and patrons who have done a wonderful job in building the High’s audience, developing major collaborations with national and international institutions, and ensuring the Museum is a meaningful and positive force within the city of Atlanta and beyond.”
Suffolk also forged strategic international and national partnerships that enhanced Philbrook’s engagement of its audiences by bringing new exhibitions to the Museum. Its three-exhibition partnership with the Vitra Design Museum (2012 – 2016) brought Antibodies: The Works of Fernando and Humberto Campana, 1989-2009 (2012) and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Album (2014) to Philbrook and will conclude in 2016 with the final exhibition in the series. Suffolk also established a five-year collaboration with the Vilcek Foundation, whose mission is to raise public awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts and culture in the United States. The foundation provided support for the acclaimed exhibition Models & Muses: Max Weber and the Figure (2012) and accompanying catalogue and loaned important works for the debut of From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection (2015) at Philbrook.
In addition, Suffolk forged new partnerships with more than 30 regional non-profit and cultural organizations ranging from the Tulsa Opera to the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. Other innovative and community-focused initiatives implemented during his tenure include MyMuseum, a free and interactive children’s program that encourages new discoveries, and Second Saturdays, a monthly event offering free admission with indoor and outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. The expanded breadth of the museum’s programs under Suffolk’s leadership led to both larger and more diverse audiences.
“Rand’s infectious enthusiasm and passion for the visual arts coupled with his savviness for identifying success benchmarks for staff and supporters alike make him an exemplary leader for the High,” said Louise Sams, chair of the Search Committee, former board chair, and member of the Executive Committee of the High Museum of Art. “His experience forging partnerships and his ability to adapt to the changing demographics and needs of the community will further the High’s commitment to best serving its audiences.”
Prior to joining Philbrook, Suffolk was the director of The Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls, NY from 1999 through 2007, and had previously held positions there as deputy director and curator. During his tenure, Suffolk’s focus included building constituency; overseeing a 7,000 square foot museum expansion; guiding the $1 million award-winning restoration of historic Hyde House; and initiating the successful creation of three sister endowment funds to sustain exhibitions, acquisitions and conservation. He has also curated more than 25 exhibitions and has participated as a juror, panel member or guest lecturer for a variety of art-related organizations and programs. Suffolk holds a Master’s degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College, a Master’s degree in higher education administration from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Connecticut College.
About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, self-taught art, African art, and holdings that support the High’s dedication to collecting works by Southern artists. Over the past 15 years, the High has continued to build upon its outstanding photography collection, with a focus on works by Southern artists and on images relating to the American South, including the nation’s most comprehensive collection of Civil Rights-era photography.
In 2005, the High collaborated with renowned architect Renzo Piano on a campus expansion that created three new buildings for the Museum and transformed The Woodruff Arts Center into a “village for the arts.” This expansion more than doubled the Museum’s size to 312,000 square feet, allowing the High to display more of its growing collection, expand educational and exhibition programs, and offer new visitor amenities to address the needs of larger audiences. The $164 million expansion also strengthened the High’s role as the leading art museum in the Southeast and allowed the Museum to better serve its growing audiences in Atlanta, the region, and from around the world.
The High Museum of Art has a legacy of partnering with national and international museums in order to organize exhibitions and bring masterpieces to Atlanta. In 2006, the High formed “Louvre Atlanta,” an innovative partnership with the Musée du Louvre that brought nearly 500 works of art from the Louvre’s collections to the High from October 2006 through September 2009, including many works that had not previously left France. The collaboration, which included student and staff exchanges, publications, and symposia, brought more than 1.3 million visitors to Atlanta over the three years. In 2009, the High partnered with The Museum of Modern Art, New York, to launch the MoMA Series, a multi-year, multi-exhibition collaboration, building on successful past collaborations between the High and MoMA. The MoMA Series extended ties between the institutions through professional exchanges, development of educational programs and publications, and reciprocal admission benefits. In 2011, the High again collaborated with the Musée du Louvre, as well as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art, to launch a four-year partnership devoted to producing programming and annual, focused installations of American and European art in the U.S. and Paris.
Since 1995, the High has welcomed more than 1 million school children and teachers, reaching as high as 91,000 annually. In 2004, the High launched its Art Access program, which offers subsidized admission for students from Georgia’s Title I Schools across all grade levels. The goal of the program is to remove the economic barriers that might prevent schools from visiting the museum. In addition to free admission, Art Access includes free teacher resources, student study guides, and related materials for classroom learning before and after a visit to the Museum. In 2013, of the 66,000 schoolchildren who visited the High, more than half of those children received free admission as part of Art Access. Since its inception, the Art Access program has allowed more than 200,000 students to visit the High free of charge.
For more information about the High, visit high.org.
About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Tony Award–winning Alliance Theatre, the Grammy Award–winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. Each year, these centers of artistic excellence play host to more than 1.2 million patrons at The Woodruff Arts Center’s midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the United States to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. The Woodruff Arts Center also offers remarkable educational programming through each of its arts partners. Through the combined efforts of its arts partners, The Woodruff Arts Center serves more than 200,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia. www.woodruffcenter.org
In 2014, the Woodruff Arts Center launched its multi-year Transformation Campaign, a $100 million fundraising initiative focused on increasing endowment and capital funding for renovations to the Alliance Theatre and other areas of the Arts Center’s campus and a fund specifically to increase access and activation for the entire campus. The Transformation Campaign funds will support a variety of improvements for the High, including enhancements to its patron services. To date, the Campaign has raised in excess of $77 million with a deadline for completion in December 2016.
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