Monday, June 2, 2008

A Towering Presence

The unexpected passing of Anne d'Harnoncourt represents an incalculable loss to the Philadelphia region and to the entire art world. The esteemed director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art put the Museum on the map and made Philadelphia a premier destination for art.
Anne d'Harnoncourt was art royalty.
But she never acted like royalty. She was warm, engaging, welcoming - down to earth. She had such a magnificent sense of herself and she was living proof that one woman with vision, determination and a keen understanding of the world can accomplish almost anything.
Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a friend and colleague for decades said "There's no question that she was one of the very few people at the very summit to whom all museum directors and curators would look up and consult. She was a very big influence on the international museum group that meets every year. She was just someone who made a difference wherever she went."
"Philadelphia has lost one of the greatest cultural leaders in its entire history," said David B. Brownlee, professor and chair of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. "Anne d'Harnoncourt transformed the Philadelphia Museum of Art in a way that modeled and contributed to the transformation of the city of Philadelphia. She attracted the best and brightest curators in the world, created with them an ideal collegial environment in which to work and charged them with the task of creating exhibitions and other programs that would change the city and speak to the world."
I was proud to know Anne d'Harnoncourt and wrote about her recently on this blog.
To listen to my podcast interview with Anne d'Harnoncourt click here.

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