Welcome to the National Gallery of Art, one of the most beloved and visited museums in the world. I vividly recall my first visits with my French class during the late 1970s. We came every year to explore the beautiful French impressionist paintings collection, and I would sometimes sneak away and marvel at the Renaissance paintings as well. Those were lasting, formative experiences.
As the National Gallery’s fifth director, I am inspired by the story of the museum’s founding and the extraordinary legacy of Andrew W. Mellon’s humility, intelligence, and generosity. Mr. Mellon believed that great works of art should benefit the public. His patriotic vision of a national art gallery was then shared by our other early benefactors and matched by the ongoing commitment of the United States Congress.
Mr. Mellon’s gift of 152 works of art and the construction of the West Building grew to encompass the East Building and Sculpture Garden, more than 150,000 works of art, an extensive art research library, renowned curatorial, conservation, exhibitions, publishing, film, and educational programs, a specialized and talented staff, and a vibrant community of scholars in the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. The National Gallery of Art has served the nation and the world for the past seventy-eight years not only as a center of visual art but also as a center of education and culture.
I look forward to building on the incredible work of my predecessors to fulfill the National Gallery’s mission—to serve the nation by welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. In doing so, I hope to create an even stronger bond with our diverse communities—whether they are near or far, visitors to our campus or virtual lovers of art. I believe that art has the power to make a difference in people’s lives and that the National Gallery of Art plays a special role in defining the relationship between the arts and civic engagement. Through compelling exhibitions, interpretive materials, and public programs, as well as diverse acquisitions for the collection and academic opportunities for rising scholars in the field, the National Gallery aims to cultivate more engaged, empathetic, and inspired citizens.
I am thrilled to take the helm of this esteemed institution as we explore new ways for the National Gallery to inspire curiosity, reach diverse audiences, and connect people with some of the greatest triumphs of human creativity. I look forward to seeing you in the galleries!