Fralin Museum of Art J. Sanford Miller Family Director Accepts New Role at the McNay Art Museum

Matthew McLendon, Ph.D. will assume his new role as director and CEO of the McNay Feb. 13

The McNay Museum of Art

Matthew McLendon, Ph.D., The Fralin Museum of Art’s J. Sanford Miller Family director and chief curator, has been appointed as the new director and CEO at The McNay Art Museum, the first modern art museum in Texas. He will continue his duties at The Fralin through late January and begin his appointment at the McNay in San Antonio Feb. 13. The Fralin Museum of Art will launch a national search in the spring for its new director.

“Under Matthew’s leadership, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia (UVA) has made tremendous strides in facilitating important conversations through the Museum’s collection and exhibitions,” said Jody Kielbasa, UVA’s vice provost for the arts. “As director and chief curator, Matthew was devoted to sharing inclusive stories in the galleries, expanding the collection, bolstering audience engagement and garnering national media attention for the institution. His work and collaborative spirit left an indelible mark on The Fralin Museum of Art, the University of Virginia and our community of Charlottesville, and that work will benefit the Museum’s visitors and the UVA community for many years to come.”

In his six years at The Fralin, McLendon focused on invigorating the Museum within the University and its wider constituencies. During his tenure, museum attendance and major support increased and diversified dramatically, and The Fralin launched several new public programs. McLendon is widely recognized for his emphasis on community engagement and education, advocacy of cross-disciplinary programming and amplifying underrepresented and marginalized voices in the museum setting.

Nationally-recognized exhibitions during McLendon’s time at The Fralin include a multi-sensory installation by Vanessa German,; Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings, an exhibition focusing on the critical yet little-known period that Georgia O’Keeffe spent as a student at UVA; and Skyscraper Gothic, investigating the European foundations of the fundamentally American skyscraper and its place in early 20th-century material culture. The Fralin also expanded its Native American collections under McLendon's leadership, acquiring works by contemporary Native American artists, including Wendy Red Star, Cara Romero, Rick Bartow and others. Earlier this year, the Museum was awarded a $250,000 American Art Program Responsive Grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support new research and interpretation of the Native American collection through engagement with Native scholars, artists and knowledge holders.

“Leading The Fralin has been an honor and privilege. I have greatly enjoyed partnering with my brilliant museum colleagues to facilitate important, thought-provoking conversations through art. I look back with pride on The Fralin’s strong, forward-thinking exhibitions and related programs, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an outstanding institution and call Charlottesville home,” McLendon said.

McLendon will be the McNay’s fourth director in its 68-year history. He was selected by a search committee appointed by the McNay Board of Trustees.

“Matthew’s dynamic experience as an art historian, museum director and curator will strengthen the McNay Art Museum’s position as a global destination for modern and contemporary art,” said Board of Trustees President Don Frost. “We are confident that his expertise and strong commitment to civic engagement will advance the Museum’s vision of becoming a place of belonging for our diverse community.”

Last summer, the McNay’s current director, Richard Aste, announced his plan to move to California in early 2023. Aste will remain in his role through Feb. 10, 2023, ensuring a seamless transition in leadership for the Museum.

About the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia

Established in 1935, the University of Virginia Art Museum became the Fralin Museum of Art in 2012 in honor of a bequest of American art and service to the university by Cynthia and W. Heywood Fralin. The Museum maintains a collection of more than 13,000 works of art, including American and European painting, works on paper and sculpture from the 15th through the 20th centuries; art from the ancient Mediterranean; Asian art; and Native and ancient American art. Housed in the historic Bayly Building near the Rotunda on the landmark UVA campus, the Fralin is dedicated to serving the widest possible audiences and engaging comprehensive visual education to enhance its visitors’ understanding of world cultures. Throughout the year, the Museum presents a diverse selection of exhibitions, programs, research and events that bring the university and broader community together.

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is made possible through generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. We also wish to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.

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