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Thursday, 30 July 2015 10:45

The High Museum of Art Names New Director

After a nine-month search, evaluating candidates from across the country and overseas, the High Museum of Art has chosen Randall Suffolk, currently the director of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla., to serve as the Atlanta museum’s new director, the AJC has learned exclusively.

Suffolk replaces Michael E. Shapiro, who for two decades led the High through enormous growth and dramatic change. Shapiro announced last October he would step down this summer. His last day at the High is Friday, July 31.

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The High Museum of Art announced today that Michael E. Shapiro, the Museum’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director since 2000, will leave the position next year, after 15 years as director. Shapiro has been part of the High’s leadership team for two decades, during which he oversaw unprecedented growth of the Museum’s collections, endowment, and audiences, as well as the completion of a 177,000-square-foot, three-building expansion. Shapiro’s last day as director will be July 31, 2015.

“It has been a privilege to be at the helm of the High for the past 15 years, and to help shape the vision and future of Atlanta’s art museum,” said Shapiro.

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The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, announced that it will use a series of gifts totaling approximately $4 million to expand its photography initiatives. The museum, which is home to the most comprehensive photography program in the American Southeast, began acquiring photography in the early 1970s. The High’s holdings include American works from the 20th and 21st centuries, images made in and of the South, and the most significant grouping of vintage Civil Rights-era prints in the country. 

The most substantial gift has been promised by Donald Keough, the former president and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, and his wife, Marilyn. The couple, who helped fund the museum’s 2005 expansion, will donate $2 million to endow a permanent curatorial position in photography and support ongoing photography programs and acquisitions at the institution. Lucinda W. Bunnen, an Atlanta-based photographer and avid collector, has donated an unspecified amount that will go to the establishment of a photography gallery. Bunnen is a longtime supporter of the High’s photography initiatives and previously donated prints by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Chuck Close, and Cindy Sherman to the museum. Paul Hagedorn, an Atlanta-based artist and supporter of the High since 2005, has donated $500,000 for acquisitions and the Yellowlees Family, also longtime supporters of the museum, have donated $400,000 for the acquisition of Southern photography.

Michael E. Shapiro, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director, said, “These landmark gifts represent a transformational moment for photography at the High. Photography is our fastest growing area of collecting, research and programming, and these gifts will ensure that the High can continue our commitment to new scholarship and commissioning new works by living artists. We hope that these significant gifts inspire others to support our photography programs and the growth of our collection.”

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