Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Richmond, VA

804 367-0844



Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Appoints Michael Brand as Director


The board of trustees of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has picked Dr. Michael Brand, an Australian native with Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from Harvard and ties to Virginia, to be the museum's director.

He comes to Richmond from Brisbane, Australia, where he has been assistant director of the Queensland Art Gallery since 1996. (left: Dr. Michael Brand, Photo © 2000 Mike Curtin)

In announcing Dr. Brand's appointment, trustee chairman Jane Bassett Spilman said, "On behalf of the board I am delighted and confident that we have found the best-qualified candidate to lead the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at this point in its distinguished 64-year history. Together, we will continue to build on our reputation for excellence. We are excited to have discovered such an exceptional person, who combines a reputation among his peers for sound scholarship with proven administrative skills and an international network of contacts in the art world. It is this creative balance that will be the catalyst for his dynamic leadership here."

Dr. Brand emphasized his dedication to providing the museum's public with access to both art and ideas. "I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts into the new century," he said.
"With its extraordinary collection and highly skilled staff - along with its unique balance of public and private support - the museum is clearly poised to become an international leader in its field."

Dr. Brand, whose field is Indian art and architecture, earned his M.A. in 1982 and his Ph.D. in 1987. He was graduated with honors from the Australian National University in Canberra in 1979. His major was Asian studies.

Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, calls Dr. Brand "a man of exceptional intelligence with a tremendous passion and interest for the arts." The two met when they were graduate students and have worked together on a variety of projects and exhibitions. "Michael has led a distinguished career and has all the requisite intellectual, social and administrative abilities to be an outstanding director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts," Lowry said.

At the Queensland Art Gallery - which is a state museum, as is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Dr. Brand led the collection division. He played a significant role in the recent success of the gallery's third Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, which closed in January. The exhibition attracted more than 150,000 visitors.

He was also a leader in the innovative use of technology to make the Queensland state collection available to a broader audience. He has lectured and published extensively on Indian and Islamic art and architecture and, more recently, on contemporary Asian art.

Before joining the Queensland Art Gallery, he was the founding head of Asian art at the National Gallery of Australia (1988-96), where he raised funds for the creation of its first dedicated Asian gallery space and organized the ground-breaking exhibition "The Age of Angkor: Treasures from the National Museum of Cambodia." He has also been co-director of the Smithsonian Institution Mughal Garden Project in Lahore, Pakistan (1988-93), a research fellow at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian (1987), and curator of Asian art at the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design (1985-87).

A native of Canberra, Dr. Brand Lived in 1971 and 1972 in McLean, Va., and completed high school in Washington, D.C., where his father served as a director of the International Monetary Fund.

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts he succeeds Katharine C. Lee, who resigned in January, to become director of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Read more about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Resource Library Magazine

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This page was originally published 5/23/00 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11

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