The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced that it has received a gift of $3.5 million from a longtime museum advocate to endow the directorship for The Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies, which is currently slated to open in fall 2021. In recognition of this generous gift, the position has been titled The Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Director. The Matisse collection at the BMA was first established through the vision and philanthropy of sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, and the named directorship acknowledges their nephew and his wife, who have continued the family’s legacy of support for the BMA.
As part of the news, the BMA has also announced that it has appointed Senior Curator and Department Head of European Painting and Sculpture Katy Rothkopf as the new director. In her position as The Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Director, Rothkopf will be responsible for the development of the center’s exhibitions and public programs and will work with scholars, both at and outside of the BMA, to support new research and the creation of publications and digital resources on Matisse’s work and ongoing influence. The BMA first announced its plans to establish the center in July 2019, creating a new essential resource to support the examination and presentation of Matisse’s contributions to the history of art. Rothkopf succeeds Jay McKean Fisher, the inaugural director of the center, who retired after 45 years of remarkable service to the BMA. She will take on her new role on July 1, 2020, and will also continue to serve as Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture.
“We are deeply grateful for this generous gift, which both honors the Cone family’s dedication to the BMA and helps to secure the future of The Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies. It has been a long-term strategic goal for the BMA to present the full breadth and depth of its Matisse holdings, first established by the vision and faith of the Cone sisters and nurtured by the Cone family and museum leadership over many decades. We are very much looking forward to newly engaging our many audiences with Matisse’s legacy when the center opens,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “I am also delighted that Katy Rothkopf will be taking on the role of director. Katy brings to the position extensive knowledge of our Matisse collection, wide-ranging expertise in modern art, and many years of curatorial innovation. Equally, Katy’s numerous collaborations with Jay Fisher and their mutual commitment to illuminating Matisse’s life and work make her an ideal choice to bring the vision for the center to life.”
The Matisse collection at the BMA was firmly established by the Cone sisters’ 1949 bequest, which included more than 500 works by the artist. To this group of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and illustrated books, the BMA has added more than 500 works, amassing the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Matisse works in a public museum. The creation of The Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies offers fresh opportunities to present the BMA’s expansive Matisse holdings, while also supporting the development of new scholarly publications and exhibitions that will focus on Matisse and his important legacy to artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. When it opens in 2021, the center will lead and support new research efforts, the development of symposia and public programs, and the presentation of exhibitions that contribute to knowledge of Matisse’s practice. The center will also work toward the digitization and publication of portions of the collection, making it further accessible to audiences around the world.
Rothkopf joined the BMA in 2000 as Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and several years later became the Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. During her 20 years at the BMA, Rothkopf led the critically acclaimed reinstallation of the Cone Collection and curated or co-curated several groundbreaking exhibitions, including Matisse/Diebenkorn, the first major show to examine the influence of Henri Matisse on the work of American artist Richard Diebenkorn; Cézanne and American Modernism, the first exhibition to explore the influence of Paul Cézanne’s paintings and watercolors on American artists in the early years of the 20th century; and Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape, which traced the artist’s transformation from a traditional landscape painter to a pioneer of Impressionism. Rothkopf is currently organizing a show focused on the still-life paintings of Cubist painter Juan Gris, as well as an exhibition examining the more than 40-year friendship between Etta Cone and Matisse. She holds an MA in Art History from Williams College and previously worked as a Research Assistant for the Department of European Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and an Assistant Curator and Associate Curator at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.