Joan Rosenbaum to Retire as Director of the Jewish Museum

Joan Rosenbaum, who has led The Jewish Museum since 1981, creating its innovative identity as a museum of art and culture and doubling the size of its home at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, has informed the full Board of Trustees of her intention to retire at the end of June 2011 from her position as Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director of the Museum.

Over the course of her 30-year tenure, she has strengthened and expanded every aspect of the Museum: from its world-renowned collection (which has grown to 26,000 objects) to its endowment (which she campaigned to initiate, then built to more than $92 million) to its level of activity, as reflected in an annual operating budget that has risen from $1 million in 1981 to $15 million today.

Joshua Nash, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, announced that the Board had voted unanimously but with regret to accept Ms. Rosenbaum’s planned retirement.

“Joan Rosenbaum is the most influential leader this institution has had in its 106-year history,” Mr. Nash stated. “She has served longer than any other Director and has shaped the Museum more than any other individual. As we carry forward this pre-eminent institution, where millennia of Jewish culture are made manifest through the arts for people of all backgrounds, we are profoundly grateful for Joan’s vision, skill and dedication in building the internationally respected Jewish Museum we know today.”

Robert Pruzan, President of the Board of Trustees, stated that the Board had formally organized a search committee to work with the firm of Phillips Oppenheim to identify the Museum’s next leader.

“Thanks to Joan Rosenbaum, The Jewish Museum is in a very strong position,” Mr. Pruzan stated. “With a dynamic Board, a superb staff, a highly anticipated schedule of exhibitions and programs and a solid financial base, we can look to the future with complete confidence.”

In announcing her planned retirement, Ms. Rosenbaum stated, “I feel 30 years is a very good run for any museum director. I am now ready to take on new projects, having had the education of a lifetime at The Jewish Museum. I have learned from each new exhibition and acquisition and have gathered a world of invaluable experience from a wise and devoted Board and a brilliantly talented staff. Now is the time for a new generation to build on the success we’ve achieved together.”

Joan Rosenbaum: A Brief Biography
A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Joan Rosenbaum studied art history at Boston University and Hunter College and received a certificate in not-for-profit management from Columbia University. She began her museum career as a Curatorial Assistant in Drawing and Prints at The Museum of Modern Art (1965-72), then served from 1972 to 1979 as director of the museum program at the New York State Council on the Arts. She joined The Jewish Museum as its Director in 1981, after one year as a consultant with the Michael Washburn firm.

Joan Rosenbaum has been a frequent speaker and panelist on subjects related to art and Jewish culture and has contributed articles to publications of The Jewish Museum and other institutions. Among the honors she has received are an honorary doctorate from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2003, the Chevalier for Arts and Letters from the Cultural Ministry of France in 1999, and the Knighthood of the Order of the Dannebrog from Denmark in 1983. She is a former member of the boards of Creative Time and Artists Space. Over the years, she has been an active member of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and The Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM).

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