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Chrysler Museum of Art Appoints New Chief Curator

  • NORFOLK, Virginia
  • /
  • January 07, 2016

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Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., will become the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art this spring. Photo by Ian Lefebvre / Art Gallery of Ontario

Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., will become Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art of the Chrysler Museum of Art, Museum Director Erik Neil announced today.

DeWitt, who is Canadian, has served since 2011 as Curator of European Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Located in Toronto, the AGO is Canada’s leading art museum, with a collection of more than 80,000 artworks. DeWitt was selected after an extensive international search. He is expected to begin his new role in spring 2016.

“Lloyd DeWitt brings a rare combination of scholarly rigor, artistic acumen, and proven experience in organizing important exhibitions,”

Neil said. “He will add a strong curatorial voice to our leadership team as we chart our course for the future. By selecting Lloyd, we have made a statement that the Chrysler will be an active participant in the national and international museum field.”

Though DeWitt is best known as a respected curator and scholar of 17th-century Dutch art, his interests range broadly, from African art to 20th-century Canadian art to nonprofit management. In his four years at Art Gallery of Ontario, he brought in highly successful exhibitions of Michelangelo and J.M.W. Turner. He also filled the roles of Curator of African and Oceanic Art and Manager of the AGO Library and Archives.

DeWitt also worked for 10 years at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There, he served as assistant, then Associate Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection. Among the exhibitions DeWitt mounted at PMA was 2011’s Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus. Organized with the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the international show was popular at all venues and broke several attendance records.

“All of us who met Lloyd were impressed with him — and with his track record in organizing outstanding traveling exhibitions,” said Lewis Webb, Chair of the Chrysler’s Board of Trustees. “We are excited about the international stature he brings to the Chrysler and the new directions that he will lead us in.”

DeWitt is recognized not only for his exhibitions, but for his scholarship, publications and expertise as an educator. He holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Maryland, College Park. Studying with Arthur Wheelock of the National Gallery of Art, he specialized in Northern Baroque and Northern Renaissance Art. His dissertation on the career of Dutch painter Jan Lievens (1607–1674) made him the leading expert on the artist. He earned an M.A. in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a B.A. with honors in Fine Art from the University of Guelph, Ontario. He has taught at four North American colleges and universities, and has led numerous conference presentations.

DeWitt is widely published on Holland’s Golden Age of painting, particularly on Rembrandt and Jan Lievens, but also on earlier Netherlandish painting, Italian masters, 19th- and 20th-century European painters, and Canadian artists. He has received national awards and fellowships and currently serves on the board of the Historians of Netherlandish Art. He has lectured frequently in North America and Europe.

DeWitt was chosen as Chief Curator at the Chrysler after an extensive worldwide curatorial search led by consultant Marilyn Hoffman of Museum Search & Reference of Manchester, N.H., and Boston. Key Chrysler staff and Museum trustees met with the finalists to provide input to Director Erik Neil on this important hire.

“With all we hope to achieve, it was critical for the Chrysler to find a visionary new Chief Curator to build on our successes. I am confident that we have done so,” Neil said.

DeWitt will become only the second Chief Curator of the Chrysler Museum of Art, filling the position vacated by Jeff Harrison, who retired in August 2015. Harrison served at the Chrysler for 33 years, 22 of them as the department head. DeWitt will lead a team of seven that includes curators, conservators, fellows, researchers and admin staff, with future hires to come.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Chrysler as Irene Leache Curator of European Art and Chief Curator. I am very much looking forward to working with the Chrysler’s outstanding staff and leadership to achieve a higher, more global profile for this remarkable collection,” DeWitt said.

“Every time I’ve encountered the Chrysler’s treasures in my work I have been struck by how fortunate Norfolk and Hampton Roads area is in having this rich collection — blessed with works of importance and quality. The Chrysler is wonderfully open to trying new things to really pump up our community’s engagement with great art. What a great place to be, and a wonderful time to be here!”

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