NEW YORK CITY — Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, recently announced that preeminent American art scholar Morrison H. Heckscher will retire on June 30, following 13 years as Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of The American Wing and a distinguished curatorial career at the museum that spanned nearly five decades. He will become curator emeritus of the American Wing July 1.
Campbell announced further that Sylvia L. Yount — currently chief curator as well as the Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art and Department Head at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) — will become the Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing this fall. She was elected to her new position at the June 10 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
In making the announcement, Campbell said, “Morrie Heckscher has had a long and distinguished career at the Met with many landmark scholarly accomplishments. Perhaps the most significant has been his supervision of the decade-long renovation and reinstallation of the entire American Wing, which involved every aspect of our American art collection and every member of his superb staff.”
“The new galleries, which opened in phases culminating with the inauguration of the American Paintings and Sculpture Galleries in 2012, have been a resounding success with millions of visitors to date. Through his exhibitions, acquisitions, lectures, and writings, Morrie has championed such important and diverse topics as architecture, landscape, and American furniture and interiors. I’m pleased that he will continue to share his expertise with the museum as curator emeritus, working on various projects, including a book on the architectural and cultural history of the Met,” Campbell added.
In announcing Yount’s appointment to the Met to assume leadership of the American Wing this fall, Campbell said, “She is a talented curator and energetic administrator who, for the past two decades, has applied scholarship and vision to organizing exhibitions, writing catalogues, and overseeing several important, extensive collections of American art that — like the Met’s — cover the colonial period through the early Twentieth Century. With her wide-ranging background and special interest in Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century art, I am certain that Sylvia will lead the distinguished staff of the Wing to further accomplishments in the years to come.”
Heckscher joined the Metropolitan Museum in 1966 as a Chester Dale Fellow in the Prints Department. From 1968 to 1978, he was an assistant curator, associate curator, and curator in the American Wing; from 1978 to 1998, he was curator of American decorative arts. In 1998, he was appointed the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts, and assumed chairmanship of the American Wing in 2001. As chairman, he conceived and initiated the redesign and reinstallation of the entire wing.
Prior to her seven-year tenure at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Yount was the Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art and Department Head at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from 2001 to 2007. She also served on the staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia as Curator of Collections (1993–99) and Chief Curator (1999–2001).
In addition to organizing landmark exhibitions on American modernism, Maxfield Parrish, and Cecilia Beaux at the Academy and the High, Yount has strengthened and diversified VMFA’s American holdings through purchases and gifts. She has also presented exhibitions of work by the Anglo-American printmaker Clare Leighton and the celebrated African American modernist Jacob Lawrence. Currently, she is organizing a reappraisal of the Colonial Revival phenomenon, “Making America: Myth, Memory, Identity.”
For more information, www.metmuseum,org or 212-535-7710.