Brent R. Benjamin to Retire as Saint Louis Art Museum Director

  • ST. LOUIS, Missouri
  • /
  • September 14, 2020

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Brent R. Benjamin

Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, has announced his intention to retire in mid-2021 after serving more than 20 years as director. The museum’s board of commissioners will now begin the process of selecting his replacement.

“Brent has led the Saint Louis Art Museum through two of the most successful decades in our 140-plus year history,” said Charles Lowenhaupt, president of the Saint Louis Art Museum Board of Commissioners. “He built a world-class staff that has elevated our reputation as a top-tier art museum nationally and internationally, and he burnished our standing as a crown jewel among St. Louis cultural institutions.”

Benjamin, 61, was named museum director in 1999. Among many achievements under his leadership, the museum significantly enhanced its collection, built a world-class expansion on Art Hill, conducted a record-setting capital campaign, hosted two of the five best attended exhibitions in Museum history, enhanced engagement among diverse segments of the St. Louis community and championed a unique fellowship program that has boosted the number of minority professionals active in the field.

Lowenhaupt said the achievements under Benjamin’s leadership position the museum for sustained success.

“Our exceptional collection and staff, our robust governance, our solid financial foundation and our ongoing initiative to advance diversity under Brent’s stewardship make the Saint Louis Art Museum a highly desirable destination for top director candidates,” he added.

Lowenhaupt said the commission will immediately begin the process of selecting Benjamin’s replacement. As an initial step, a commission task force will engage museum stakeholders—including trustees, donors, members, staff and the community at large—for their input on future Museum leadership needs. Based on that feedback, the commission then will conduct a formal search to make its selection.

Benjamin will continue as director through the selection process to ensure a smooth transition.

“My goal now is to advance the strategic initiatives on our agenda—including our most recent diversity and inclusion initiative—as the board undertakes the process of selecting our next director,” Benjamin said.

“I want to express my gratitude to the St. Louis community for embracing me from the start; to our donors and members for continually stepping up to provide the support required to advance and sustain our museum as an enduring treasure; to our boards for providing a consistent strength of governance; and especially to our staff, who made possible all of our achievements over these past two decades,” Benjamin added.

Lowenhaupt noted that Benjamin’s leadership in the museum field—including his current role as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors—will continue to benefit the Saint Louis Art Museum in the future.

“As a recognized leader in the art museum field, we know Brent will remain an advocate for our museum as he continues his thought leadership in the international art museum community following his retirement.

“We—and the St. Louis community—owe Brent a debt of gratitude for his inspiring leadership over his two-plus decades as director,” Lowenhaupt said. “It is the commission’s job now to identify a new director who can build on Brent’s achievements and successfully lead the museum into our next era.”


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