Richard Armstrong becomes Director of Carnegie Museum of Art

Following an extensive national search Richard Armstrong, the chief curator of Carnegie Museum of Art and an expert in contemporary art, was named the eighth director of the museum. He succeeded Phillip M. Johnston and assumed his duties as the Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art on Friday, August 30.

Armstrong joined the museum in 1992 as curator of contemporary art and three years later he became chief curator, the same year in which the 52nd Carnegie International, which he organized for the centennial year, opened to the public. In making the announcement of the new director, president Ellsworth Brown noted the profound effect Armstrong had already made on the collections and exhibitions, and said he expected him to become "a particularly compelling director" of the museum because of his strong aesthetic vision, ability to work with all sectors of the museum world, and his strong organizational sense.

Born and educated in Kansas City, Missouri, Armstrong studied at the University de Dijon and the Sorbonne in Paris, and received a B.A. in Art History from Lake Forest College, Illinois. He was a Helene Rubenstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and afterwards worked as a curator at La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California, and in 1980 served on the artists committee that planned the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Beginning in 1981 he was associated with the Whitney Museum again, starting as a senior instructor and rising to curator in 1989. He co-organized four of the Whitney's well-known Biennial exhibitions, and organized other exhibitions of contemporary art such as Richard Artschwager (1988) and The New Sculpture 1965-7. He has served as a guest curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts and at Palacio Velasquez, Madrid, and has lectured widely and been published in a number of periodicals.

When asked what he sees as the primary challenge facing the Carnegie Museum of Art, Armstrong says:

"In the four years I've been in Pittsburgh, the museum has expanded tremendously--organizing and opening The Andy Warhol Museum and The Heinz Architectural Center, as well as remodeling and rehanging the 47,818-square-foot Scaife Galleries. Thanks to new acquisition funds raised through the Second Century Fund, the collection has been added to also. Given these accomplishments, I think trustees and staff feel that we must share the museum with even more people. The principal challenge facing us is both to widen the audience and to deepen its experience while here. Museums may be one of the few places left where imagination and intelligence are of comparable value. We teach, but we must always encourage dreaming also."

--R. Jay Gangewere