The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial announced today the appointment of Matthew Braun as its new Executive Director. Braun’s appointment concludes a successful national search. Braun currently serves as Executive Director of The History Center in Tompkins County in Ithaca, New York and will begin as Fleisher’s Executive Director in early January 2007.
“We are extremely excited about Matt coming to Fleisher. He is a great fit for Fleisher, both today and tomorrow,” said James A. Lebovitz, Fleisher’s President and Chair of the Search Committee. “Fleisher is very proud of the quality of candidates it attracted during the search process and, more importantly, the quality of its choice. Matt's tenure will mark a new chapter in Fleisher's long and rich history. I am confident that he will contribute meaningfully and leave his mark on Fleisher.”
Anne d’Harnoncourt, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which administers the Fleisher Art Memorial, echoed the Committee’s enthusiasm, noting, “Matt is an excellent choice to lead Fleisher. His proven record, both as a leader of an important cultural institution and as an artistic voice himself, shows great promise.”
Braun worked at the History Center in Ithaca for nearly ten years, beginning as curator in 1997 and becoming its Executive Director in 2000. The History Center helps people use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and play an informed role in shaping the future. As Executive Director, Matt initiated programs such as “Our Historic Treasures Unwrapped” and the “Student Historian Initiative.” Each brought new recognition—and new audiences—for the History Center’s exceptional collections. He created the “Towns of Tompkins County” exhibit series, an award winning, multi-year, collaborative series of exhibitions that combined the resources of municipal historical societies, local historians, and the History Center. Committed to working in partnership, he fostered productive relationships with Ithaca College, Cornell University, and other community organizations. In recognition of his efforts, Matt was awarded the American Association of Museums 2005 Nancy Hanks Memorial Award, and was selected to participate in the renowned Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in 2006.
Prior to joining the staff at the History Center, Braun earned a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Washington University in St. Louis, was an artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting (ME) and the Santa Reparata Printmaking Studio in Florence, Italy, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.
“During his tenure as executive director,” said John Suter, president of the History Center’s Board of Trustees, “Matt has provided extraordinary leadership, devoting his talents, energy, and grace to the organization’s renewal as a dynamic, forward-looking center at the service of our community. The board, staff, and friends of the History Center are immensely grateful for the contributions Matt has made to the History Center and to the community. We are, of course, very sad to see him go,” said Suter, “but he leaves the organization strong and confident. We are eager to build on Matt’s accomplishments.”
In addition to Mr. Lebovitz, Fleisher’s Search Committee was comprised of Fleisher Board Members Alice Beamesderfer, James Nelson Kise, John Louchheim, Ted Newbold, Thoai Nguyen, and Liz Werthan. The Search Committee was advised by Lee van de Velde.
The Fleisher Art Memorial was founded in 1898 to offer opportunities for personal enrichment and professional growth in the arts to adults and children who would not otherwise have access the arts. Over 100 years later, the nonprofit organization is known for the hundreds of free art classes and low-cost workshops it offers for students of all ages, at all levels, and in a wide range of media. From painting, drawing, and sculpture to printmaking and photography, Fleisher offers classes for over 3,000 students each year. In addition, a series of 16 exhibitions of contemporary art in five gallery spaces connects emerging artists with an interested public, welcoming close to 7,000 annual visitors. Fleisher’s Community Partnerships in the Arts program serves close to 500 youth through artist residencies, delivered after-school and in partnership with nearby public schools, providing in-depth art instruction that builds solid skills in the arts and enriches academics.