“Conversations” Episode 9: Interview with Doreen Bolger

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Painter and JHU Professor Craig Hankin interviews Doreen Bolger.

Doreen recently retired after 17 years as Director of The Baltimore Museum of Art, which is recognized nationally and internationally as a center for 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art. Among her many accomplishments are redefining the Museum’s artistic focus and placing greater emphasis on its world-class collection, initiating several major traveling exhibitions, expanding educational programs, began a series of exhibitions that included regional artists, and eliminating general admission fees. During her tenure, Doreen led the transformation of the BMA’s galleries for the Cone Collection of modern art and the contemporary, European, American, African, and Asian art collections to great acclaim, and also improved visitor amenities and essential infrastructure. The multi-year renovation also included the fall 2015 opening of the new Center for People & Art, which offers innovative and creative experiences for Baltimore audiences.

Doreen was born in 1949 in Far Rockaway, New York. She earned her B.A. from Bucknell University where she graduated magna cum laude. She earned her M.A. from University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Doreen started her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she was a Chester Dale Fellow from a 1974 to 1976. She then went on to work at the Met for the next 12 years, first as Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture from1982-88, next as Assistant Curator in 1988, then on to Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture and Manager of The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art in 1989. From 1989 to 1994 she became Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Museum of Art. In 1994 she became the Director of the Rhode Island School of Design, leaving in 1998 to become the director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Currently she serves on the boards of the Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Charles Street Development Corporation, Design Center Baltimore, and Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. Doreen is well known as a long time enthusiastic supporter of Baltimore’s emerging art scene. This interview was conducted in Doreen’s home in December 2015.

doreenbloger_young_bwPortrait of Doreen  when she was in graduate student in Art History at the University of Delaware (1971-1973). Photo by a friend Graydon Wood, who is now Sr. Photographer, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

doreenbloger_atthemet02_useBolger at work in the American Paintings storage room of The Metropolitan Museum of art during the 1970s.  The portrait at the lower right of the rack, painted in 1908 by Kenyon Cox, represents sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

DoreenBolger_doreenandCraigDoreen Bolger and Craig Hankin at Doreen’s home for the interview, December 2015.

Sharon-Redmond_BMA_0043-crop_BMADoreenBolgerDSC_5990_BMADoreenBolger_1005_bolger_mayor_BMADoreen Bolger with former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley

DoreenBolgerbaker_mpt_2011_40_BMADoreen Bolger with Baker Awards group, artist Gary Kachadourian, beatboxer Shodekeh,and Connie Imboden, president of the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund

DoreenBolgerDSC_7833_BMADoreen Bolger with Aya Uekawa, her husband Joseph Ayers, and friend.

DoreenBolger_Mayor_BMADoreen Bolger with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake

DoreenBolgerIMG_7621_BMADoreen Bolger with Colin Alexander looking at his work in Alloverstreet.

DoreenBolger_homeart_05Doreen collects regional art. The work is on display everywhere in her home.
This work is by Baltimore artist Colin Benjamin.

DoreenBolger_homeart_06Work from Doreen’s personal collection in her home.

DoreenBolger_doreen-house3Work from Doreen’s personal collection in her home.

This interview was conducted by Craig Hankin. Hankin is a visual artist who is the director of the Center for Visual Arts at Johns Hopkins University, where he has taught drawing and painting since 1980. He has also taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art (1979–86) and Notre Dame of Maryland University (1980).

“Conversations” intro music by 98Owls.

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