Campus & Community

James Cuno ends 11-year tenure

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HUAM director is appointed to Courtauld Institute

Outgoing director of the University Art Museums James Cuno.

James Cuno, director of the Harvard University Art Museums, has been appointed director of the Courtauld Institute of Art to lead its transformation into an independent college of the University of London.

“I very much look forward to the challenges that lie ahead,” said Cuno. “The chance to work with new colleagues in charting the future course for the Courtauld as an independent college of the University of London is very exciting. I will miss my colleagues and the collections of the Art Museums and I am deeply indebted to their friendship and professionalism.”

In letters to friends and colleagues, Cuno said that the move to London was not expected or planned. “This was by no means an easy decision but the directorship of the Courtauld was an opportunity I could not pass up,” said Cuno, who had recently bought a house in the Cambridge area.

“Since my arrival here a year ago, I have come to know Jim Cuno as an eminent curator and an institutional leader of skill and intelligence,” said Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers. “I have admired his vision and his deep commitment to one of Harvard’s most remarkable resources. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with him. Harvard will miss him deeply. Jim’s rich experience as an educator and as a museum director will serve the Courtauld well.”

Cuno will take up his new post on Jan. 6, 2003. At President Summers’ request, Harvard University Provost Steven Hyman will begin a search for a successor during the summer and fall of 2002.

The provost plans to consult very broadly on the subject of Cuno’s successor. Faculty members here and elsewhere, museum professionals, and friends and supporters of the Art Museums will be asked for advice about the directorship. In the coming weeks, Hyman will also develop a plan for interim leadership.

Hyman said that addressing the physical needs of the Art Museums will be a priority for interim leadership and for the next director. “It is essential that we improve museum facilities in order to protect and preserve the collections and make more space available for the display and study of art. Jim and his colleagues have done excellent work evaluating the Art Museums’ needs and developing alternatives to address them. We’re reviewing these alternatives and considering the opportunities presented by an Allston campus, but we have not made any final decisions. We look forward to further discussions with faculty, museum staff, and the community on these issues.”

James Cuno has served as Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums and professor of history of art and architecture at Harvard since 1991. Under his directorship, the Harvard University Art Museums (HUAM) has doubled in staff size and budget and has organized numerous national and international touring exhibitions including, among many others, “Mondrian: The Transatlantic Paintings” (2001), “‘You Look Beautiful Like That’: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé” (2001), “Latin American Geometric Abstraction: Selections from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection” (2001), “Ben Shahn’s New York: The Photography of Modern Times” (2000), “Ellsworth Kelly: The Early Drawings, 1948-1955” (with the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, 1999), Brice Marden Work Books (with Kunstmuseum Winterthur and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, 1998), “Fuseli to Menzel: Drawings and Watercolors in the Age of Goethe” (1998), “Gods, Kings, and Tigers: The Art of Kotah” (with Asia Society, 1997), “Tiepolo and His Circle: Drawings in American Collections” (with Pierpont Morgan Library, 1996), “The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections” (1996), “Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers: Chinese Brown- and Black-Glazed Ceramics, 400-1400” (1995), and “Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection” (1992).

Major acquisitions to the Art Museums’ collections under his directorship include the Maida and George Abrams collection of 17th century Dutch Drawings; the Stuart Cary Welch collection of Indian and Islamic paintings and drawings; the Henderson Collection of Korean Ceramics; the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art; the Lois Orswell Collection of modern painting, sculpture, and drawings; the world’s largest collection of multiples by the postwar German artist Joseph Beuys; and important paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Georges Braque, Piet Mondrian, Georg Baselitz, and Agnes Martin; sculptures by David Smith, Ellsworth Kelly, and Kiki Smith; and drawings by Brice Marden, Jasper Johns, Sol Lewitt, and Richard Serra.

In addition, the Art Museums successfully concluded its largest capital campaign ever, raising $55 million, or 50 percent over an original goal of $37 million. This resulted in endowed curatorships in Ancient Art, Chinese Art, Islamic and Later Indian Art, Modern Art, and Photographs, and in, among other things, the renovation and expansion of the Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. Recently founded is a Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art and the Harvard Program for Art Museum Directors. At present HUAM is working with the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano on a renovation of the Fogg Art Museum and a master plan for the Art Museums issues.