Taylor departs Hood, leaving questions

by Amelia Rosch | 4/1/15 5:40pm

After nearly four years in Hanover, Michael Taylor is no longer serving as the director of the Hood Museum of Art, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence confirmed in an email. Juliette Bianco, who previously served as deputy director at the Hood, will serve as the museum’s interim director until a replacement is found.

In her email, Lawrence wrote that Taylor had “stepped down to pursue other career opportunities,” though she did not specify what those opportunities are. As of March 17, Taylor’s entry on the Hood’s online faculty directory had been removed.

Taylor could not be reached for comment by press time, and Bianco did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Several Hood employees either declined to comment or directed inquiries to the Hood’s public relations department, and Nils Nadeau, head of publishing and communications at the Hood, did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.

News of Taylor’s departure was announced to some at the College in a March 16 email from Provost Carolyn Dever, according to a March 17 post on Dartblog. In the last week, The Boston Globe and the Valley News have also reported on Taylor’s departure, though neither moved past speculating what may have caused him to leave the College.

In her email, Lawrence described Taylor’s tenure as director by highlighting the rise in the Hood’s national profile and a number of major acquisitions, including works by major artists, such as Marcel Duchamp, Ellsworth Kelley and Kiki Smith. Lawrence also wrote that the exhibits Taylor organized, including “Native American Art at Dartmouth” and “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties,” emphasized the breadth of the collection that he had helped to grow. The last show that Taylor curated, “About Face: Self-Portraiture in Contemporary Art,” included works by well-known artists including Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman.

As director, Taylor also helped the Hood begin a campaign to expand its facilities, welcoming the largest single gift in the museum’s history — a $10 million donation that will triple classroom space and expand the gallery area by supporting a museum learning center — in June of 2014. At the time of the donation, the expansion campaign had raised $28 of its $50 million program goal. The project is expected to begin in April of 2016 and finish by the fall of 2018.

When he joined the College as the Hood’s director in the summer of 2011, Taylor said that his major goal was to increase student engagement with the Hood. In an interview with The Dartmouth after his appointment, Taylor said he considered the Hood to be one of the leading teaching museums in the world. He also noted his hopes to provide travel funding for students to meet artists abroad. Before arriving in Hanover, Taylor served as the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and also taught as an adjunct professor in art history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Charles Croce, who worked alongside Taylor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art while serving as the museum’s director of marketing and public relations, said that while he did not know the circumstances of Taylor’s departure from the College, he anticipated that the former Hood director would likely find a strong position at another institution.

“[Taylor] has a way of imparting what he knows without making you feel lesser for it,” Croce said. “In my sense, it’s Dartmouth’s loss, frankly.”

Building on his experience at Penn, Taylor continued to work with students at the College as the Hood’s intern supervisor, Laura Dorn ’15, a current intern at the Hood, said. Taylor’s departure had caused a period of transition for the program, she said, adding that Amelia Kahl, the museum’s coordinator of academic programming, had stepped in to coordinate the interns’ work in his absence.

“I really loved working with [Taylor],” Dorn said. “He was wonderful with students, especially the student interns , and [at] getting us involved.”