The Board of Trustees of the Barnes Foundation announced Wednesday that they have named Thomas “Thom” Collins as the new Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation. An innovative educator, accomplished art historian, administrator and author, Mr. Collins, a Philadelphia native, has more than 20 years of experience at some of America’s top arts institutions. He comes to the Barnes after serving for five years as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida (PAMM).
“Thom is a national leader in the visual arts and is recognized for his expertise and breadth of knowledge in education and art history. His track record in museum leadership, community outreach, and development makes him the right choice to lead the Barnes Foundation at this time,” said Joseph Neubauer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Barnes Foundation, who led the search committee. “We look forward to working with Thom as the Barnes enters its next phase of development.”
At PAMM, Mr. Collins oversaw construction of the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed building located in downtown Miami, which opened to great acclaim in December 2013. During his tenure, the museum achieved an overwhelming increase in membership, annual giving, attendance, and major gifts, published important exhibition and collection catalogs, added significant works of art to the collection, and began in-house production of critical new digital education tools.
“It will be a privilege to lead the Barnes Foundation in its next chapter,” said Mr. Collins. “With its world-class collection, critically acclaimed new building, award-winning programs, growing membership and engaging array of courses in art and horticulture, the Barnes has become increasingly accessible to a more diverse audience than ever before. I look forward to working with the staff and Trustees to further its mission.”
Prior to joining PAMM, Mr. Collins served for five years as director of the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York. Mr. Collins’ tenure at the Neuberger Museum of Art was highlighted by significant growth in attendance and annual giving, and the creation of major endowments for new programming initiatives and capital improvements. He also oversaw the museum’s exhibitions, permanent collection displays, and a far-reaching platform of community-based educational programs for school children and adults in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.
Before heading the Neuberger Museum, Mr. Collins served as director of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, 2003–2005; chief curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, 2000-2003; associate curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington, 1998-2000; and Newhall Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 1994-1997.
Mr. Collins earned his MA in Art History from Northwestern University and his BA with honors in Art History and the History of Religion from Swarthmore College. He currently holds memberships in the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Art Museum Curators, and the College Art Association.
ABOUT THE BARNES FOUNDATION
The Barnes Foundation (barnesfoundation.org) was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles; American paintings and decorative arts; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. The Barnes Foundation’s Art and Aesthetics programs engage diverse audiences. These programs, held at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
The Barnes Arboretum, at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes a fern-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Laciniata’), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias and magnolias. The Horticulture school at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes.