Just this week, Minneapolis Institute of Arts Director Kaywin Feldman was voted in as the new president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.
Feldman succeeds Michael Conforti, director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, as the national organization’s president; her term in office will last one year.
The members of AAMD represent 198 art museums in the United States, Canada and Mexico; the organization both serves as a national advocate for North American art museums and aims to “aid its members in establishing and maintaining the highest professional standards for themselves and the museums they represent.”
According to the new report (PDF) from this year’s annual meeting, hot topics of discussion among the art museum directors at the gathering included “museum exhibitions of permanent collections, new audiences and members, a changing media landscape, institutional partnerships, and interactive media for educational purposes.”
In recent months, AAMD members have also grappled with the effects of the financial crisis on art museums, including the professional and ethical briar patch surrounding the range of museum policies for “deaccessioning” (selling off) pieces of artwork from their collections. (Perhaps the most widely reported such deaccessioning controversy was the nationwide kerfuffle surrounding Brandeis University’s 2009 plan to sell off the holdings of the Rose Art Museum collection to help cover the college’s substantial budget shortfall.)
Feldwin’s election as president of the AAMD is a terrific coup, for her and for the state of Minnesota. But as the nation’s art museums struggle, along with virtually every other cultural organization, to come up with successful strategies for financial sustainability in the face of a still-difficult economic climate, and to recapture waning civic support for arts and cultural institutions around the country, I have a feeling she’ll have her hands full.