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Stephanie Wiles named as our next director

September 14th, 2011

By Daniel Aloi, Cornell Chronicle

Stephanie Wiles (Janine Bentivegna Photography)Stephanie Wiles of Oberlin College has been named the next director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Provost Kent Fuchs has announced.

Wiles has been the John G.W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin since July 2004. A specialist in Old Master drawings and prints and British and American art, she has organized numerous exhibitions, been responsible for acquisitions of works by artists ranging from Rembrandt van Rijn to Sol LeWitt and led many grant-funded projects.

While overseeing a recent 20-month building renovation and art storage expansion at the Allen, she co-organized exhibitions of some of that museum's finest works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. She also co-authored the Allen's first highlights catalog.

"I deeply admire Cornell's excellent liberal arts tradition, outstanding professional programs, and commitment to developing innovative cross disciplinary partnerships," Wiles said. "The excitement of being in a great university setting is really compelling, and it's a setting in which the museum has played such a great role."

Wiles succeeds Franklin W. Robinson, who retired as the museum's Richard J. Schwartz Director in June after 19 years. She will begin work at the Johnson in mid-November and will be named the new Schwartz director pending approval by the Cornell Board of Trustees in October.

As director, Wiles will oversee museum operations and a staff of 22; a collection of more than 35,000 artworks including extensive holdings in Asian and contemporary art; and an educational and outreach mission with programming serving the Cornell campus, the local community and the region. The museum building, by architect I.M. Pei, opened in 1973, and a 16,500-square-foot expansion, in a new wing based on Pei's original design, will have a public grand opening Oct. 15.

"Stephanie Wiles brings to Cornell a wealth of talent and experience and a deep commitment to the arts and arts education -- a commitment shared by her predecessor," Fuchs said. "I feel confident that she will continue Frank's legacy of enthusiasm and excellence, as the museum enters a new era with the addition of a spectacular new wing opening this semester."

Kent Kleinman, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, led the search for the director position. "The committee conducted an extensive, international search and reviewed an extraordinary pool of candidates," he said. "Stephanie stood out from beginning to end as ideally qualified for this leadership position. The arts on campus will be in excellent hands under her directorship."

Wiles previously served as curator of the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she developed several traveling exhibitions and taught specialized courses on prints, drawings and photography. She began her museum career at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Her 16-year curatorial tenure in the Morgan's Department of Drawings and Prints included organizing many major exhibitions that were shown nationally and abroad.

Wiles has a bachelor's degree in modern languages from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (1981), an M.A. in art history from Hunter College (1987) and a Ph.D. in art history from the City University of New York Graduate Center (2001). A member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, she also serves on the editorial advisory board of the journal Master Drawings.