Los Angeles County Museum of Art Announces Retirement of President and COO, Melody Kanschat

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced that Melody Kanschat will be leaving her position as President and Chief Operating Officer, effective May 2011. Ms. Kanschat has held this position since July 2005, having worked at LACMA in a variety of capacities since 1989.

As President and Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Kanschat has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the museum, overseeing its annual budget of $60 million and, most recently, the completion of LACMA‟s recent Transformation building initiative designed by Renzo Piano. The Piano-designed master plan, which added more than 100,000 square feet of new exhibition space, includes the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and BP Grand Entrance opened in 2008, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened last October, and the new Ray‟s restaurant and Stark Bar in the grand entrance, slated to open in March of this year. The construction project, which also includes public artworks and expanded park space, has totaled more than $150 million spent over five years; during the same period LACMA‟s capital fundraising campaign has amounted to $320 million and counting.

Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director said, “During her tenure as President and COO, Melody has helped lead LACMA through a period of unprecedented growth, not only in land and buildings, but in the increasing public accessibility of the museum that she has championed during her entire career here of more than two decades. We will miss her steady hand, extraordinary administrative skill, big appetite for new challenges, and her drive for excellence and accessibility in equal measure. She leaves LACMA poised for continued growth and improvement. Melody has been a true partner during our last five years of work together.”

Prior to her 2005 promotion to President, Ms. Kanschat was the museum’s Executive Vice President for Administration and External Affairs under Dr. Andrea Rich. Previously, under former Director Earl „Rusty‟ Powell, she led the Marketing, Membership, and Development divisions and was responsible for attracting visitors, members, and donors. In her time at the museum, she focused her efforts on developing integrated programs that communicate the range, quality, and variety of experiences that LACMA makes available to the greater public.

“I am so proud of LACMA‟s many accomplishments,” said Kanschat. “It has been an honor to be a part of the LACMA staff for the past 22 years, and to see the museum flourish. To fully explore my own career interests, I need to step away from the day-to-day commitments that leading LACMA entails. As a visitor and a supporter, I look forward to taking advantage of the incredible array of programs LACMA makes available to the community and to watching LACMA‟s Transformation continue.”

Over the next few months LACMA will implement its leadership transition plan, reorganizing museum administration under a team of new and long-term LACMA staff that will report to Michael Govan.

LACMA Board Chairs Andy Gordon and Terry Semel stated, “Our sincere thanks go out to Melody, as she has been instrumental in repositioning LACMA at an important time in its history. We will greatly miss her forthright manner, her drive for excellence, and her willingness to take on any challenge that could contribute to LACMA‟s success. She has been an invaluable resource to the Board of Trustees, LACMA‟s Director and staff, the County, and the greater community of Los Angeles.”

Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor added, “I want to congratulate Melody for her part in making LACMA one of the great cultural institutions of Los Angeles. Over her 20-plus years at LACMA she has proven to be a strong voice within the community, championing county-wide cultural and infrastructure issues that make Los Angeles County a leader nationally. She has been an outstanding collaborator with the county and a true asset to L.A.‟s cultural vitality.”

Before joining the LACMA staff, Ms. Kanschat was the Development Director at public radio station KCSN in Northridge, California, and the Operations Director for Northwest Public Radio at Washington State University. She is actively involved in cultural and civic activities in the region, and serves on the Boards of Move LA, a public transportation advocacy coalition, and the Cornerstone Theater Company. In 2010, Ms. Kanschat won the Civic Leader Award at the annual We Love LA event for her part in building transportation and cultural infrastructure. She is an active participant in national and international museum conferences and symposia, and has served on a number of juries and panels focusing on cultural issues and urban design. Ms. Kanschat holds a B.S. degree in Radio, Television and Motion Pictures from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Melody Kanschat, LACMA President and Chief Operating Officer. © 2011 Photo Museum Associates/LACMA

About LACMA
Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography-and represent Los Angeles’s uniquely diverse population. Today, the museum features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a contemporary museum on its campus. With this expanded space for contemporary art, innovative collaborations with artists, and an ongoing Transformation project, LACMA is creating a truly modern lens through which to view its rich encyclopedic collection.

LACMA 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90036 323 857-6000

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