After an impressive twenty-eight years, James Mundy will retire next June as Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College.
During his tenure, the longest of a museum director in Vassar history, the Art Center has grown secure in its finances and greatly improved its collections, two areas reflecting his core effort. The collection almost doubled from 11,000 to over 21,000 works under his stewardship, including key acquisitions in medieval art, Japanese art, Old Master European and American art. Significant gifts such as the Deutsch collection (Miro, Pollock, Giacometti, Gorky, Picasso, etc.) and many promised gifts were booked and the operating budget increased by a factor of 10 over his tenure.
In conjunction with his spring 2019 retirement, the Art Center will mount a new exhibition, entitled An Era of Opportunity: Three Decades of Acquisitions, that will run April 26–September 8, 2019.
“For nearly three decades, James Mundy has provided the vision, the wisdom and the professional expertise that has made The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center one of the finest college art museums in the country,” said Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley. “His leadership has enabled countless members of the Vassar community—art majors and many others—as well as the many thousand members of the public who visit every year, to learn to appreciate the works of great masters and lesser known artists of all genres.”
When the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center opened in 1993, Mundy had been with the college for two years and thus viewed the construction of the new building and all it represented as the perfect blank canvas in which to create programs and collections.“We were able to experiment with various formulae for the program’s success but, all the while, I held the strong belief that what is lasting about art museums is their collections,” said Mundy. “I benefitted from being able to take the long view regarding collection building and to wait for the key opportunity to present itself. After the exhibitions closed and the various public programs had been enjoyed, it was the collections that remained, and by developing them we provided the resources to feed all other aspects of our mission.”
A 1974 graduate of Vassar with an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton, Mundy has spent his career in the arts, teaching at prestigious schools including Princeton, Northwestern, Mount Holyoke and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee before returning to his alma mater as both a Lecturer in the Department of Art and Director, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
Mundy cites Vassar and the greater Mid-Hudson Valley community as being at the heart of the Art Center’s mission of education. “Our purpose over these many years has been simple—to be an edifying and life-enhancing agent in the lives of our visitors and, in short, have people leave our environs feeling better than when they arrived,” he said.
A nationwide search for the next Anne Hendricks Bass Director is underway. The search committee, chaired by Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources Marianne H. Begemann, includes faculty, administrators, alumnae/i, a trustee of the college, and members of the museum's advisory board. The committee anticipates a start date for the new director of Aug. 1, 2019.
Following his retirement, Mundy will become director emeritus and return to two large scholarly projects. The first is the complete catalogue of the drawings of the sixteenth-century Italian artist Federico Zuccaro, a project encompassing well over 1,000 drawings. The second is to continue work on the cataloguing of the Old Master drawing collection here at Vassar which numbers around 200 items.
About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with an art museum as a part of its original plans, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections. The Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 21,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college’s inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th-century painters.
Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free and all galleries are wheelchair accessible. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am–9:00pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00pm. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and the Vanderbilt mansion. For additional information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.
Vassar College is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.