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Gail Andrews, one of Birmingham’s most treasured leaders in the arts community has announced that she will be retiring in the fall as director of the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Here are excerpts from the Birmingham Museum of Art’s news release announcing Andrews’ retirement and the incredible impact she has made on our community for more than a generation.
Excerpts from the Birmingham Museum of Art news release:
After more than twenty years as R. Hugh Daniel Director, Gail Andrews has announced plans to retire from the Birmingham Museum of Art. With an overall tenure spanning four decades, Andrews established the Birmingham Museum of Art as one of the South’s preeminent art museums and she will end her run as director in early fall.
“For more than 40 years, Gail Andrews has been a tireless advocate for the arts in Birmingham and the state of Alabama. Her remarkable knowledge and passion for art is matched only by her drive to enhance the lives of others; and her contributions to our institution, our community, and the museum field at large are immeasurable,” says James K. Outland, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Birmingham Museum of Art.
“It is with deep pleasure and gratitude that I reflect on my 40 years with this museum, a place I love and respect. It has given me the opportunity to work with individuals in the Museum and in the community who are wise, inspiring and great colleagues and friends,” says Andrews. “We are fortunate to have a premier institution, and our ongoing challenge is to create broader and deeper engagement in our community and beyond, ensuring greater appreciation, participation, and sustainability.”
During Andrews’s leadership, the Museum’s holdings grew from 13,000 objects to 27,000 objects, as she placed a steady emphasis on collecting. She provided oversight for the acquisition of the Buten Wedgwood Collection, thereby establishing the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Wedgwood collection as the largest in North America. She brought international acclaim to several collection areas with distinguished additions to the Museum’s Vietnamese ceramics, and propelled significant growth to the American and European collections.
Herself a published scholar and respected authority on textiles and folk art, Andrews spearheaded Museum initiatives to collect and display the work of self-taught artists from the Deep South, beginning in the late 1970’s with work by artist Lonnie Holley and still today with the recent acquisition of the Cargo collection of folk art. Additionally, Andrews strategically bolstered the Museum’s contemporary collection with notable works by women and African-American artists, including the commission of the internationally renowned painting by Kerry James Marshall, School of Beauty, School of Culture.
The news release concluded announcing that upon retirement, Andrews will remain engaged with various aspects of the Museum as she co-curates an upcoming folk art exhibition. Also, according to BMA, an internal committee has selected Russell Reynolds Associates to undertake the search for the next director, who should be in place prior to Andrews’ fall exit.