Published: August 14, 2001
By Genevieve S. Ward
GREENWICH, CONN. – On August 9, Bruce Museum interim director Homer McK. Rees announced the seventh director of the museum to an audience of board members and the press. The search, headed by Leah Rukeyser, chairman of the board and Susan Mahoney and Frank Manley, search committee co-hairs, lasted well over a year and attracted numerous candidates from across the country.
The executive search firm Opportunities Resources, Inc. worked on behalf of the Bruce Museum in the search. Of the final ten candidates, half were men, and half were women; seven were museum directors, two were curators, and one was an assistant curator. Candidates hailed from art, science and history museums as well as university galleries. Through the process, the committee searched for a balance of business enterprise and scholarly reputation.
Peter C. Sutton, noted Northern Baroque art scholar and former director of the Wadsworth Atheneum (1996-2000), will assume the role of executive director and CEO of the Bruce Museum on August 31. This new appointment is complemented by a new combination of titles. Recently, the board revised its by-laws, from which comes the corporate-inspired title. Not only will Sutton lead in the scholarly pursuits of exhibition planning, but he will also spear fundraising and development projects, including plans to dramatically increase museum attendance.
Sutton completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard, and then earned an MA and PhD from Yale. His professional experience includes five years as a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, nine years as the Mrs Russell W. Baker Curator of European Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, two years as senior director of Old Master paintings at Christie’s New York, his previously mentioned role as director of the Wadsworth Atheneum, and a year as vice president, Art Advisory Service, Citicorp.
Highlights of Sutton’s museum career include the catalogues Pieter de Hooch, Complete Edition (1980), Masters of Seventeenth Century Dutch Genre Painting (1984), Dutch Art in America (1986), Masters of Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Painting (1987-88), The Age of Rubens (1993-94), Dutch Landscape Painting (1994-95) and Pieter de Hooch (1998-99).
Important exhibitions have focused on Monet, Renoir, Boudin, Picasso and Dali, as well as Old Masters. Sutton has displayed a great interest in the industry as well as the profession. He serves on the board of trustees of the European Fine Arts Foundation, Maastricht, and regularly reads Antiques and The Arts Weekly. He and his wife, Mary Lynn “Bug” Sutton, have two children and are looking forward to relocating to Greenwich.
Sutton explained that, through Bruce-initiated exhibition programs, he plans to build attendance and to make the Bruce a “destination museum.” The Bruce currently attracts over 100,000 visitors per year, and about 8,000 of these are students. Sutton’s experience in drawing crowds is proven; his efforts at the Wadsworth increased annual attendance from 150,000 to 220,000 and at least one major exhibition during his directorship brought 560,000 patrons.
Currently, the Bruce Museum exhibits 14 shows a year. On view through October 10 is “The Compassionate Lens: The Photographs of Werner Bischof, 1945-1954.” Upcoming exhibits include “Prints of American Life: WPA Works on Paper from the Webster Collection” (September 1 to November 25), “Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art from the Khalili Collection” (October 27 through January 27, 2002) and “The West in Popular Culture” (January 26 to June 23, 2002).
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