Philadelphia Museum of Art announces retirement of Cheryl McClenney-Brooker

. February 4, 2012 . 0 Comments

The Philadelphia Museum of Art announced that Cheryl McClenney-Brooker, the Museum’s Director of External Affairs since 1987, will retire on March 2, 2012, after 29 years of service. Over the years, Ms. McClenney-Brooker has been a key member of the Museum’s senior administration, serving to generate a broad range of initiatives to attract, engage, and build audiences for the Museum and to advocate on behalf of the Museum to elected officials and many other constituencies.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Cheryl will leave behind an exemplary legacy of public service on our behalf. Her efforts have positioned the Museum well in relation to numerous cultural organizations, government agencies, and community groups.”

“Cheryl has been a major force in the Museum as a catalyst for community engagement and as an advocate for the arts on behalf of the Museum to government officials,” added Gail Harrity, the Museum’s President and Chief Operating Officer, to whom Ms. McClenney-Brooker has reported since 1997. “Our audiences have become more engaged as a result of her efforts, and we are deeply grateful to Cheryl for her distinguished public service and abiding dedication to the Museum and the communities of Philadelphia. We will miss her dedication, wonderful charm, and extraordinary grace.”

In recognition of her retirement, on February 9, the City Council of the City of Philadelphia will issue a resolution in Ms. McClenney-Brooker’s honor, citing her “tireless commitment to the art, cultural, and civic community of Philadelphia.” The Honorable Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, also stated: “I join the Philadelphia City Council in honoring Cheryl on her retirement from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cheryl has been a cornerstone of the Museum for 29 years. As the leader of the Museum’s community outreach efforts she has had a lasting impact on the Museum’s capacity to better serve all of our City’s children, youth, and families.”

Ms. McClenney-Brooker’s retirement has also occasioned an expanded role within the Museum for her colleague Joseph Meade, who has served as Director of Government Relations since 2010. He will now also assume the responsibilities of External Affairs to help sustain and build upon Ms. McClenney-Brooker’s successes in external affairs initiatives that have already launched or are in the planning stages. “It has been an honor to work closely with Cheryl since I arrived at the Museum, and having learned a great deal from her, I am excited to continue this important work of external affairs in service of the Museum’s mission,” said Meade.

Ms. McClenney-Brooker began her career at the Museum in 1983 as Assistant Director for Program, a liaison of the administration to the Department of Education. In that role, she coordinated and supervised programs related to special exhibitions and collections, as well as for schools, families, adults, and disabled visitors. When she rose to the position of Director of External Affairs in 1987, she served to coordinate the work of Museum departments to build partnerships with civic groups and to augment community participation. She became the Museum’s liaison with the City of Philadelphia, state, and federal agencies. In addition, she was the Museum’s presence in local communities through numerous successful outreach programs focused on neighborhood, cultural, and religious groups. More recently she has used her expertise and knowledge to strengthen and extend our outreach programs.

She was the co-founder, and for 15 years (1990-2005), chair of the city-wide Philadelphia World AIDS Day/Day without Art observance. She is a member of the boards of directors of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Multicultural Affairs Congress of the Philadelphia Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Philadelphia Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, and the Jonathan Philip Ford Memorial Foundation for Bipolar Disorder Awareness.

Her many successes at the Museum included community engagement around special exhibitions, among them the retrospective Tanner (1991); India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997 (1997); Degas and the Dance (2003); African Art, African Voices (2005); The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820 (2006); and Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt (2008). Most recently, for the exhibition Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus (2011), she worked with staff to reach out to faith-based communities, which generated broad-based participation and interfaith dialogue.

Ms. McClenney-Brooker’s career in the arts has spanned more than 40 years. Prior to arriving at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, she held positions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal funding agency in Washington, D.C.

Her honors include a National Scholastic Art Magazine scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; International Council of Museums’ travel grant to Europe; Partners of the Americas’ museum travel grant to Brazil; Leadership Pennsylvania Certificate; African American Women of Achievement Award from the African American Museum in Philadelphia; Individual Achievement Award for Arts Administration from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations; and the Share the Heritage Award from the Multicultural Affairs Congress of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A Chicago native, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, the painter and art professor Moe Brooker.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States, showcasing more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. An exciting addition is the recently renovated and expanded Perelman Building, with five exhibition spaces, a soaring sky-lit galleria, and a café overlooking a landscaped terrace. The Museum also opened a new sculpture garden on the West side of its main building in 2009, offering new exhibition space for outdoor sculpture. The Museum offers a wide variety of enriching activities, including programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at (215) 684-7860. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100, or visit the Museum’s website at

Category: Museum News

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