David Mickenberg named Museum President and CEO

For Immediate Release
October 23, 2013
Media Contact:
Chris Potash
Manager of Marketing and Public Relations
Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley
610.432.4333 ext 125
cpotash [at] allentownartmuseum [dot] org

Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley Announces Appointment of New President & CEO

Allentown, PA – David Mickenberg has been appointed the Priscilla Payne Hurd President and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, Dolores Laputka, Chair of the Board of Trustees, announced today. His appointment was unanimously approved at a special October meeting of the Board of Trustees. Mr. Mickenberg was until recently CEO of the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA, and previously was director of the prominent university art museums at Wellesley College, MA, and Northwestern University, IL.

Mr. Mickenberg, a Brooklyn, NY, native, was chosen after an international search. He will relocate to the Lehigh Valley with his wife, Judy, and join the Museum on November 18, 2013.

“David is an experienced, energetic museum director with a vision of what the experience should be for a visitor in an art museum in the 21st century,” said Ms. Laputka. “Moreover, he strives to embrace the community and form collaborations, especially with regional colleges and artists. His ability to bring varied and engaging programs to a new facility is an excellent match to what we are poised to do here, and his successful fundraising experience will strengthen the Museum’s financial position and provide exciting new growth opportunities.”

Margaret “Peggy” Plympton, Chair of the Search Committee and a Trustee, said, “David will bring vision and creative new ideas as we develop the Museum’s next Strategic Plan. The Search Committee admired the way David had met significant challenges during his career and had become stronger with each test. His fundraising, administrative, and creative skills will prove invaluable as we parlay Allentown’s downtown redevelopment and new arena for the benefit of both the city and the Museum.”

Mr. Mickenberg said, “I am honored to lead the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley and to build upon its world-class collections of European and American art, exciting special exhibitions, and educational programs, which have firmly established the Museum’s reputation in the region. The Museum is a beloved treasure and a major economic asset to Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, and Eastern Pennsylvania, and I am excited to leverage new friends and opportunities.”

He added, “I was impressed by the commitment of the Museum’s board, volunteers, and staff and am eager to begin working with this talented group. I look forward to relocating to the Lehigh Valley and working closely with community organizations, schools and colleges, the tourism industry, the business community, and state and local officials to ensure that the Museum remains a significant force in the economic, educational, and social development of the region.

Mr. Mickenberg has been a museum director for over 30 years. After launching his career at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he became director of the Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, in 1981. He took the reins of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, in 1986. Over his 14 years at the Block, he quadrupled the museum’s space, significantly built the museum’s collections, began a major publications program, organized and circulated exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, and created a large-scale outdoor sculpture garden. While there he co-curated the exhibition and edited the associated book The Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz. His fundraising brought in millions in capital and endowment gifts.

In 2001, he became director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College and there completed a fundraising campaign, raising $12.5 million, 160% over goal; and he oversaw major repairs and renovations to the Rafael Moneo–designed facility. He created a major space for new media art, instituted an international fellowship and internship program for students, made major acquisitions for the collections, and oversaw the thematic reinstallation of the collections. From 2009 to 2012, Mr. Mickenberg directed the Taubman Museum of Art, arriving just after the opening of the $67 million state-of-the-art facility, for which he implemented unique, interdisciplinary, community-based programming often rooted in regional traditions and diversity that led to enhanced community engagement, increased attendance, and broadened support. He steered the museum through the worst of the recession and made it one of the most well attended regional museums in the southeast.

Mr. Mickenberg has lectured nationally and abroad on art history and museum leadership, including at the prestigious Getty Leadership Institute, of which he is a 2005 graduate and was faculty for many years. He was an adjunct faculty member at the Ecole du Louvre as well. He has served on review panels for regional and national granting agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

He completed courses toward a doctorate in French medieval architecture at Indiana University, Indianapolis, and holds an M.A. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he also specialized in French medieval architecture. He has a B.A. with honors in Art History from Colgate University, Hamilton, NY. He has organized numerous exhibitions, primarily on the history of American prints and contemporary art, and has published widely on topics ranging from museum administration to non-profit fine art presses in America.3

The Allentown Art Museum has been without a CEO since February 28, when Brooks Joyner stepped down after successfully opening the new building expansion. At that time the search committee retained Marilyn Hoffman of Museum Search & Reference, a museum executive-recruiting firm in Manchester, NH, to conduct the international search. Since then, the day-to-day affairs of the Museum have been successfully overseen by Co-Interim Directors Don Gunn, Treasurer & Director of Administration, and Elsbeth Haymon, Director of Development & Marketing. “The Board of Trustees and supporters of the Museum owe a very special debt of gratitude to Don and Elsbeth, who have done such a laudable job during the transition,” Ms. Laputka said.

The Search Committee was chaired by Ms. Plympton. It included five other Trustees with a distinguished array of experience: Sandy Beldon, Roberto Fischmann, Teri Johnson (representing the Society of the Arts), Dolores Laputka, and Jamie Musselman, along with past trustee Annette Merle Smith and Lafayette College Renaissance-art-history professor Diane Ahl.

The Allentown Art Museum is the region’s preeminent art museum, with a distinguished collection of European and American art, located in downtown Allentown and serving the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Soon celebrating its 80th year, the Museum hosts outstanding exhibitions, such as the recent Toulouse-Lautrec and current American Wildlife Art shows, as well as lectures, family activities, and school and outreach programming. The Museum is open Wednesday–Saturday 11 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday 12 PM to 4 PM, and the Café and Museum Store are also open Tuesday, 11 AM to 3 PM. For more information and directions, visit www.allentownartmuseum.org or call 610-432-4333.


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Note: Electronic image of David Mickenberg is attached.