Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Name Colin B. Bailey as Director

The Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco named Colin B. Bailey, a noted art historian, curator and award-winning author, as the new director of the largest public arts institution in Northern California.

Bailey most recently served as the Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at The Frick Collection in New York. He has won numerous honors and accolades for his work, including a prestigious Mitchell Prize for best art history book, and was named one of the first fellows by the Center for Curatorial Leadership. He takes over leadership of one of the most popular art institutions in the United States –with 1.6 million visitors last year, the fourth most-visited museums in the country.

Born in London, Bailey earned his doctorate in art history at Oxford University. He specializes in 18th- and 19th-century French art, was named Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1994 for his contribution to French culture and was promoted to Officier in 2010. He also held a residency under Henri Loyrette, the former president and director of the Louvre in Paris, the largest museum in the world.

Prior to joining the Frick, Bailey worked as the deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Canada, and has also held curatorial positions at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth.

Bailey is credited with revitalizing the Frick’s curatorial department and, as deputy director, he oversaw the conservation, education, registration, exhibition management, publications and photography departments. He began at the Frick as chief curator, rising to associate director and then deputy director, expanding his management responsibilities at each level. It is his curatorial expertise, however, that earned him an international reputation.

He has organized more than two dozen exhibitions, including the recent Renoir, Impressionism and Full-Length Painting at the Frick, many of which have represented new scholarship and have been praised for providing keen insights into individual artists. Other exhibitions include Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery; Renoir’s Landscapes, 1865-1883; and Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and Lugt Collections.

Bailey’s many publications include The Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David; Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection; and Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Paris, the book that won the Mitchell Prize.

Bailey is a skilled administrator and advocate for the arts. He secured critical funds for exhibitions, endowed positions, and educational programs throughout his career. In addition to being a visiting professor at esteemed universities such as Columbia University, Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Pennsylvania, he is a regular contributor to radio art shows in New York, presented on a PBS series, and was a guest commentator on the nationally-syndicated Charlie Rose show.

Bailey was picked after an exhaustive year-long international search by a 13-member selection committee of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees, which was clearly intent on moving beyond the museums’ reputation as a home for blockbuster exhibitions to focus more on its permanent collections.

As the head of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bailey will manage 550 employees at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, two of the leading art and cultural institutions in California. Combined, the museum’s education programs serve more than 260,000 children and families annually.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.