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Panelists debate future of museums

With its strong museum studies program and a growing number of alumni who are professionals in the field, Connecticut College has many ties with museums throughout the world.

On April 8, a distinguished panel of museum leaders, sponsored by Elizabeth McGuire Enders '62 and Anthony Enders, came to campus for a roundtable discussion on the issues their institutions are facing in the current economic crisis. 

The panelists included Agnes Gund '60, president emerita of New York City's Museum of Modern Art. She joined MoMA as a board member in 1976 and served as president from 1991-2002, leading an $858 million renovation of this cultural powerhouse and a capital campaign.

When the museum reopened in 2004, the project earned critical acclaim and brought visitors back to MoMA when many other museums were facing declining revenues.

Gund also served on the boards of several other major museums, including the Frick Collection and the Barnes Foundation. She earned her BA in history from Connecticut College and her MA in art history from Harvard.

"MoMA is on an even keel," she told an audience of students, faculty and alumni. "We're getting a much younger audience and are giving young curators more opportunities," she said. Gund joined her fellow panelists in emphasizing the importance of partnerships among museums and of making collections accessible and relevant to new audiences.

Joining Gund were Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery and Carl Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England. Christopher B. Steiner, the Lucy C. McDannel '22 Professor of Art History and director of the museum studies program, moderated the panel.

April 22, 2009