SFMOMA Has Named Christopher Bedford, Headline-Grabbing Leader of the Baltimore Museum of Art, as Its New Director

The San Francisco Museum of Modern day Art (SFMOMA) has appointed Christopher Bedford as its new director, putting in location a successor for longtime leader Neal Benezra, who introduced ideas to step down specifically one year in the past today

For the earlier six several years, Bedford has served as the director of the Baltimore Museum of Artwork (BMA), garnering a popularity as a mover and shaker with his implementation of progressive ideas to diversify the museum’s selection and increase personnel salaries. In 2018, for instance, the BMA introduced strategies to auction off is effective by white adult males to obtain parts by artists of coloration the following year, the museum stated it would only obtain artwork by ladies in all of 2020.

Even now, Bedford, who is white, may even so be witnessed as a curious, if not completely conservative, seek the services of for SFMOMA, an institution however working to rebuild its standing following quite a few higher-profile accusations of racism in 2020 and 2021.

His appointment as director was the unanimous suggestion of an inside lookup committee, which was assembled immediately after Benezra’s departure in 2021 and comprised of nine trustees. In a statement, the committee praised Bedford’s curatorial file, notably his organizing of Mark Bradford’s U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

“We have located in Chris a courageous, empathic, inclusive, and passionate chief he is at a level in his career that combines spectacular achievements with an open attitude and the potential to pay attention, discover, and evolve with and for our neighborhood,” the committee explained in their statement. “He prioritizes collaboration, dialogue. and engagement throughout leadership, staff, and audiences—values and competencies that are exactly what we were on the lookout for.”

For their lookup, the committee “solicited input from in excess of 300 people today,” such as associates of the museum board, staff, and group, as very well as artists and other directors. 

Bedford, who will formally commence his new job in June, explained the committee’s approach captured his have vision for SFMOMA, which “is grounded in commitments to equity and creative scholarship.” 

“These values have been main to my get the job done all over my occupation, and I am incredibly considerably on the lookout forward to collaborating with SFMOMA leadership and employees to further more outline and establish the museum’s mission, priorities, and software,” he additional. “This work will by necessity have to have substantially listening and discovering on my section, and I am psyched to start out the system when I arrive in San Francisco in June.”

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy of SFMOMA.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern-day Art. Courtesy of SFMOMA.

The new gig may possibly just take some receiving employed to for Bedford, who in his present-day position oversees a $16.9 million spending budget, a $197.6 million endowment, and a team of 182. SFMOMA, by comparison, has an annual price range of $53.4 million, an endowment of $500 million, and a staff of 360, in accordance to the New York Moments.

The museum is coming off a handful of tumultuous years. In July 2020 Gary Garrels, the institution’s extensive-tenured senior curator of painting and sculpture, resigned subsequent a sequence of allegedly racist remarks at a staff members meeting. When questioned in the meeting about a preceding remark he produced about the museum’s commitment to amassing white artists, Garrels properly doubled down, indicating that not attaining the do the job of white males would sum to “reverse discrimination.” (It hardly seems coincidental that at that identical moment, not gathering white adult men was specifically what the BMA was accomplishing.)

Benezra revealed his have options to move down 7 months later on, in February 2021. Nevertheless he claimed that the go experienced been on his brain for years, outsiders however related his determination with Garrels’s feedback, as effectively as an additional racially billed moment wherein SFMOMA staff deleted a vital Instagram remark created by a Black former employee. (Benezra agreed to stay on as director right until a successor was in put.)

In its announcement today, the museum explained that a “core team” for ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in the museum place of work has been set up and that a strategic system is forthcoming.

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