The Baltimore Museum of Art has selected two interim co-directors to lead the museum during the transition period after current director Christopher Bedford leaves the museum, until a new permanent director is selected.
BMA Chief Operating Officer Christine Dietze and Chief Curator Asma Naeem will serve as interim co-directors of the BMA after Bedford leaves June 3 to lead the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Dietze previously served as an interim co-director from 2015-2016, before the museum selected Bedford as its director.
Both Naeem and Dietze have been “integral” to the BMA’s adoption and implementation of its strategic plan, museum officials said.
James D. Thornton, vice chair of the BMA’s board of trustees, said in a statement that he has “every confidence” in Dietze and Naeem to lead the the BMA as the museum works to identify its next director.
“In their current positions, they have played essential roles in guiding both the BMA’s operations and artistic vision and are prepared to continue to support our staff in their important work to serve our community,” Thornton said. “The BMA has set forth ambitious goals grounded in diversity and equity, scholarly rigor, and community engagement, and we look forward to continuing to reach those goals under Chris and Asma’s leadership and well into the future.”
In addition to continuing in their current roles, Dietze and Naeem will collaborate with Bedford and the board members to “ensure a seamless transfer of operations and that the museum maintains and moves forward with many of its programmatic commitments,” museum officials said.
Board Chair Clair Zamoiski Segal said in a statement that the BMA is “well prepared for this transition period.”
“Chris and Asma have the vision, dedication, and leadership skills to carry us forward, working collaboratively with the BMA’s exceptional staff,” Segal said. “With the important decision of interim leadership confirmed, the Board can now turn even more fully to further developing the search process for the museum’s next director. This will be a robust and active process, and I look forward to sharing more details about our approach as we define our next steps.”
In February, the museum announced the formation of a search committee, led by Segal and trustee Darius Graham. The committee also includes trustees Thornton, Nancy Hackerman, Pamela Hoehn-Saric, Lisa Harris Jones, Fiona Ong, Michael Sherman, David Wallace, and Kwame Webb.
Some Baltimoreans have called on the committee to select a Black candidate to be the museum’s next director, given that the majority of the city’s residents are Black.
BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix Brown told Baltimore Fishbowl last month that the search committee is early in its process but that “the goal is to find the best director for the BMA and for Baltimore.”
The American Visionary Arts Museum on Wednesday announced that Jenenne Whitfield, president and CEO of the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, will serve as that museum’s next director once the museum’s founding director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger retires in April.
Whitfield, who is Black, became the latest Black leader of a Baltimore arts and cultural institution. Some others include the new executive director of Creative Alliance, Gregory S. Smith; the Walters Art Museum’s board chair James DeGraffenreidt Jr. and board president Guy E. Flynn; and, starting this summer, Thornton as the BMA’s board chair.
The BMA search committee’s next steps are to identify an executive search firm, map out the process for gathering input from staff and community members, and develop candidate qualifications and selection criteria. The board plans to announce additional information about the selection process “as details are solidified,” officials said.