News

Weisman Art Museum Director Lyndel King Announces Retirement

The long-time curator and director is leaving after having joined the museum 40 years ago.

Weisman Art Museum Director Lyndel King Announces Retirement
Weisman Art Museum chief curator and director Lyndel King (Photo from the Weisman Art Museum)
Lyndel King, who was a pivotal figure in the creation of the glimmering Weisman Art Museum on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota, announced Tuesday her intention to retire from her post as director and chief curator in June 2020.
 
King first joined the museum organization in 1978 and three years later became its director, a role she had held to this day.
 
The Weisman, which had existed as a teaching center for the university since 1934, did not become the architectural marvel it is known as today until the early ‘90s when King led fundraising efforts to have the museum constructed. King teamed with architect Frank Gehry to have the deconstructionist-styled building designed and attracted local entrepreneur Frederick R. Weisman to help fund the project, which originally cost $18 million to build. Again, in 2011, King collaborated with Gehry to have a $14 million, 8,100-square-foot expansion added to the existing structure.
 
“From the very beginning, Lyndel promoted the need for a world-class university to have a world-class art museum on its campus,” said Gehry in a statement. “She has left a mark on the University of Minnesota’s campus that few other can claim. I got to be part of that process with her, and I can tell you that the Weisman Art Museum exists because of her indomitable spirit, her intelligence, and her perseverance.”
 
Today, over 25,000 artworks exist within the Weisman, more than 16,000 of which were accumulated into its collection during King’s tenure. The Weisman features both American art and traditional Korean furniture, as well as a large collection of works on paper and ceramics. The 2011 addition was critical to the museum’s ability to expand its ceramics gallery.
 
“The Weisman would not be what it is today without Lyndel’s leadership, vision and dedication,” said Colleagues Advisory Board chairs Robin Torgerson and Phil Rosenbloom in a joint statement. “Through high energy, innovation, and collaboration she had built bridges between the museum and the University, its students and faculty, and the broader Twin Cities community.”
 
King is largely seen as a pioneer in her field. She was one of the first women to be elected to membership in the Association of Art Museum Directors, earning the distinction in 1980. Years later, she went on to chair two committees and serve on the association’s board of directors, as well as on the board of the American Alliance of Museums, the largest museum organization in the U.S.
 
The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will kick off a national search for the next director at the start of fall 2019. They expect to announce King’s successor and have them start in July 2020, a month after King retires.
 
“I am proud of what WAM has become,” said King in prepared remarks, adding that she wants “to make sure it continues to thrive.”


The Weisman Art Museum
Newsletter Sign Up