Carnegie Museums chooses John Wetenhall as new president

Art historian picked to lead city's four major museums


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It's official: John Wetenhall has been named as president of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, beginning March 7.

On Thursday afternoon, the organization's board of trustees voted to approve the selection of Dr. Wetenhall, an art historian who led two museums in Florida and was chosen from three finalists after a yearlong search.

"The Carnegie Museums presidency is one of the most exciting museum opportunities in North America," Dr. Wetenhall said in a statement issued after the vote.

"Beyond the impressive collections, ambitious educational programs and academic expertise of all four internationally acclaimed museums, the potential for collaboration among the arts and sciences sets this institution apart."

PG VIDEO: JOHN WETENHALL

"John immediately stood out to our committee, first on paper and then even more so in person," said Lee Foster, chairman of L.B. Foster Co. and chair of the Carnegie Museums board of trustees, who led the search.

"He has devoted his career to museums and museum management -- first as an art historian and curator, then as a museum director -- and it's obvious that he is passionate about his work. He also appreciates the complexities and the tremendous opportunities unique to an organization with multiple parts, and he led such an organization through significant growth and expansion."

Dr. Wetenhall succeeds David M. Hillenbrand, who served for five years in the post. He is the ninth person to lead the organization of four museums -- Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center and The Andy Warhol Museum.

Dr. Wetenhall served for more than eight years, beginning in 2001, as executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.

In August 2009, Dr. Wetenhall resigned unexpectedly from the Ringling, after Florida State University, which operates the museum, cut its $13.5 million budget by $1.7 million.

Most recently, Dr. Wetenhall served as interim director of the Miami Art Museum. He did not seek the permanent post.

Raised in New England, Dr. Wetenhall earned an undergraduate degree in English literature at Dartmouth College, a master's degree in the history of art at Williams College, master's and doctorate degrees in the history of art at Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University.


Mackenzie Carpenter: mcarpenter@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1949.


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