San Antonio's McNay Art Museum announces dynamic new director
One of San Antonio's oldest and most treasured museums has announced the appointment of a new director. On February 13, 2023, Matthew McLendon, PhD, will become director at the McNay Art Museum.
McLendon will be the fourth director in the museum's 68-year history. He comes to San Antonio from the Fralin Museum of Art at The University of Virginia (UVA), where he has served as the J. Sanford Miller Family Director and Chief Curator since 2017.
“Matthew’s dynamic experience as an art historian, museum director and curator will strengthen the McNay Art Museum’s position as a global destination for modern and contemporary art,” said Don Frost, president of the board of trustees, in a release. “We are confident that his expertise and strong commitment to civic engagement will advance the Museum’s vision of becoming a place of belonging for our diverse community.”
The McNay's current director, Richard Aste, recently announced his plan to move to California in early 2023, leading the McNay Board of Trustees to appoint a search committee led by co-chairs Amy Stieren and Darryl Byrd. The committee identified McLendon as the ideal candidate to serve as the next director, and Aste will remain in his role through February 10, 2023, to ensure a seamless transition.
“Matthew stood out from numerous, highly-qualified candidates as someone with a unique combination of business acumen, arts expertise, infectious positive energy, and a true love for the integral role art museums play in the communities they serve,” said Darryl Byrd, McNay Board Member and co-chair of the search committee, in the release.
According to the release, McLendon is known for his emphasis on community engagement and education, advocacy of cross-disciplinary programming, and amplifying underrepresented and marginalized voices in the museum setting. His focus at the Fralin was on invigorating the museum within the university and its wider constituencies, and museum attendance and major support increased and diversified dramatically during his tenure. He also launched new public programs, including Greenbrier Global Artists, an after-school program serving the children of asylum seekers.
“Under Matthew’s leadership, the Fralin Museum of Art has made tremendous strides in facilitating important conversations through the Museum’s collection and exhibitions,” said UVA Vice Provost for the Arts, Jody Kielbasa, in the release. “As director and chief curator, Matthew was devoted to sharing inclusive stories in the galleries, expanding the collection, bolstering audience engagement and garnering national media attention for the institution. His work and collaborative spirit left an indelible mark on the Fralin Museum of Art, the University of Virginia and our community of Charlottesville, and will benefit the Museum’s visitors and the UVA community for many years to come.”
McLendon's additional experience includes curatorial and educational positions at the Rollins Museum of Art and Tate Britain, London; teaching faculty for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Virginia, Florida State University, New College of Florida, and Rollins College; as well as frequent guest lectures, interviews, and media appearances. During his tenure at the Fralin, he helped expand its Native American collections, acquiring works by contemporary Native American artists and helping the museum earn a $250,000 American Art Program Responsive Grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support new research.
“The McNay Art Museum’s commitment to integrity, innovation, excellence and equity aligns with the work that has anchored my career,” says McLendon, in the release. “It is an honor to follow Richard Aste, and I eagerly anticipate furthering the institution’s mission to provide transformational experiences to the San Antonio community through a growing collection and thought-provoking exhibitions.”