Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Winston-Salem, NC



John Hallmark Neff appointed executive director at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art


President Barbara B. Millhouse and the board of directors have announced the appointment of John Hallmark Neff as the new executive director of Reynolda House, Museum of American Art. John Hallmark Neff was director and curator of collections of the Terra Museum of American Art from 1997 to 2001, and director of the Museum of Contemporary Art from 1976 to 1983, both in Chicago.

At the Terra, Neff presented more than a dozen major exhibitions of American Art, introduced an innovative new lecture series, strengthened an award-winning education program, achieved record attendance in 1999, and tripled the membership. Under his leadership, The Museum of Contemporary Art was recognized for its work with contemporary European artists.

Neff also served as director of the art program and art advisor at the First National Bank of Chicago from 1983 to 1997, adding more than 4000 works of art to one of the leading corporate collections in the country. He also supervised the conservation and restoration of Mare Chagall's 1974 mosaic, Les Quatre Saisons (The Four Seasons), including the commissioning of an award-winning protective structure designed for the mural by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1996. He also served as collection consultant to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Great Ideas Program for Container Corporation of America, and the Kunstforum Bank Austria in Vienna, among others. (left: Dr. John Hallmark Neff, executive director of Reynolda House, Museum of American Art. Photo courtesy of Reynolda House, Museum of American Art)

Neff has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an officer of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and a member of the board of directors of the College Art Association. He is currently a member of the visiting committee of The Divinity School and the advisory board of The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and is on the selection committee of the Art in Embassies Program of the U.S. Department of State.

Neff earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. His dissertation was Matisse and Decoration, 1906-1914, Studies of the Ceramics and Commissions for Paintings and Stained Glass.

While a teaching fellow at Harvard in nineteenth and twentieth century European and American Art, he received a David E. Finley Fellowship from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., for two years study abroad from 1969 to 1971. He was an assistant professor of nineteenth and twentieth century art at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and a lecturer in the graduate program. He was also assistant curator at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. From 1974 to 1978 Neff was curator of modern art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where he co-curated Henri Matisse, Paper Cut-Outs for the National Gallery of Art.

An active speaker here and abroad, Neff has published widely on historic and contemporary American, European and Australian art. He has written catalogues and essays on numerous artists and topics, including Anselm Kiefer, Robert Irwin, Barnett Newman, Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison, Agnes Denes, Roger Ackling, Felix Vallotton, and issues in public art.

Neff plans to assume his duties on February 5, 2001. Neff s wife, Margaret Norfleet Neff, and daughter Salem will join him at the end of the school year in June. Mrs. Neff is originally from Winston-Salem.

The new director will oversee plans for a 29,000-square-foot addition to the museum. Ground-breaking for the wing is planned for July, 2001 and will accommodate a gallery for changing exhibitions, multi-use program space with theater-style seating for 200, and facilities for education and visitor orientation. Elizabeth Morgan and Marjorie Northup have co-directed the museum since the retirement of the first director, Nicholas B. Bragg, in August of 1999. During this time, $8.7 million of a $12 million goal has been raised toward building the addition.

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This page was originally published 2/11/01 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/23/11

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