Colin Bailey Announced Director

Colin Bailey Announced Director


Dede Wilsey: Ladies and Gentlemen, my name
is Dede Wilsey. I’m President of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums. I always
like to tell you that you are in one of them now. This is the de Young Museum. We also
have a Legion of Honor over in Lincoln Park. Do not fail to go there also, please. It gives me great pleasure to welcome all
of you today. We are very happy to be able, in a moment, to announce our new director,
but I want to acknowledge all of you who are here, particularly trustees who are here,
who have been enormously supportive of this effort to find a new director. It has been quite a long procedure, although
it was no longer than the search for John Buchanan. I’d like to emphasize that fact.
Both searches took about 13 months, and my selection committee, which was 13 people,
and I would like to acknowledge them and thank them very much for their participation. In
particular, the search committee voted to appoint this particular individual in January,
and they have been able to keep the secret of this person until today. I really commend them, because it’s a very
hard secret to keep, and I know that there have been many rumors of names of people,
six that I know of in particular, including my dog, Twinkle, but I actually started that
rumor myself. [laughter] Dede: They have been really outstanding in
their ability to keep the secrets of the board and this particular individual. I want to
thank all of them for their loyalty and their support to the museums and to me personally,
which I very much appreciate. We have an outstanding group of trustees and
their love of this institution is astounding, but rightfully deserved. Thank you, all the
trustees who I see in this room today. I want to also say how much we appreciate
the support of staff. We have a really outstanding staff at this museum. They are a happy lot,
and they are a very competent group of people. I have worked with them for years, I enjoy
every moment that I’m with them, and I’d like to say I think they enjoy working with me
as well. I want to thank them for their loyalty. I
was speaking to a lot of them this morning, and they’re very excited at the announcement
of a new director. But they have been functioning very well with our deputy director, Richard
Benefield, who has been here as a deputy director since September. He’s done an excellent job,
and we look forward to having him with our new director. It gives me great pleasure to announce that
our new director is Colin B. Bailey, who is the deputy director of the Frick Museum and
he’s also the Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of the Frick Museum. I think that to have
those two skills will be extremely important for our museum, where we need to have strength
in that department. The selection committee spent a great deal
of time trying to decide what direction we should pursue in looking for a new director.
We had spent months deciding, when we were looking for John Buchanan, what the qualities
we needed at that time. We wanted to become the great exhibition museum because we had
just built this space, and I think that John did that for us admirably. We did, in fact, become the great exhibition
museum west of the Potomac river, which was my goal since I’ve come from Washington, D.C. Our next step, we believe, was to focus on
our own collections, to elevate ourselves intellectually, to have a leader who really
was a scholar and known internationally as a scholar, someone who would elevate this
museum in that direction and focus on the really excellent art which we have in this
museum, mount exhibition based on the collections we have, and further the name of the Fine
Arts Museums in that area. I think there’s no one who would be better
than Colin Bailey. He’s a very personable individual. He is certainly knowledgeable
in every area of art, not just in European art, which is his specialty. But he’s also
a very delightful person, and I know our staff will love working with him. I know our trustees
will love working with him. I think he’s watching this somewhere in the
world, so Colin, wherever you are, can’t wait to have you here. He’s really fun, and I did
tell all the staff, after John died, who was so beloved here, that we would look for somebody
who was the great leader for this institution, but also somebody who was fun, because John
was really fun. I feel that we have fulfilled every qualification that we were looking for. We cannot wait until he comes. His start date
is June first, but he will come out here in that interim period. We’re looking forward
to having him very, very much. It now gives me enormous pleasure to introduce our other
leader, the Mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, who is the person who guides us in every way. This is a city institution, and we really
value his input. The fact that he’s here today is a great honor for us. Mayor Lee. [applause] Ed Lee: Thank you, Dede. First of all, let
me tell you how I’m excited about being here at de Young. I always get excited when I come
to de Young. I want to signal my appreciation and praise to the board of trustees and to
its wonderful president, Dede Wilsey. You’ve just done a marvelous job, time and
time again, with the board of trustees that keep the strong confidence in investing not
only in this museum, The Legion of Honor, but in our cultural institutions in general. I just came back from Paris. Last time I was
in Paris I was a high-school student. This time, I got to be received by Mayor Delano����.
He is such an arts freak, if you will, as the mayor, and he reminded that he love our
city because of our cultural institutions. We are world renowned because of your work,
so kudos to the board of trustees, to the staff, the people who run this organization,
to all of the members and hopefully, would-be members. Quickly get your admissions into
this because it’s going to continue being great. Many of you know I work hard for this city.
I’ve always worked hard for this city, but one of the reasons I do is because so many
others work hard for the greatness of our city. I can’t see it more reflected than our
cultural institution, the very fabric of why we’re one of the number one destinations in
all of the world to come to. Whether it’s people from Paris, Cork, or China,
the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, what it means to them, the Legion of Honor, this
very exhibit that we’re doing now, with the “Girl with a Pearl Earrings,” is just drawing
wonderful crowds. In fact, last year, the de Young drew 1.6 million visitors. That’s
an incredible number. Then, to add to that, both museums combined
together service over 250,000 children and families. This is an incredible part of what
our city is. I know that you know I’ve been working hard to attract different businesses,
create more jobs in this city, provide more housing, all in an effort to make this city
more successful. But I will always, always say, Dede, that
it’s people like you and the board of trustees that provide us with a reason why to work
hard to keep this city great as an international city, to make sure that we do all the things,
because oftentimes, when you talk to the employees of all the technology companies that I’ve
been talking with every week, and ask them what draws their talent to a city, the first
three things they know, whether it’s public transportation, it’s also the arts, because
that’s what keeps their creative mind functioning. It’s these institutions, with their wonderful
service, their continuing exhibitions, world-renowned exhibitions that introduced and keep their
minds active and it keeps the tremendous amounts of visitors coming to our city. I know how
difficult it has been for the board and for the president to make the quick search. It
is to match up the right person with such an incredible institutions as these are. I, for one, know how difficult it is when
you’re trying to do that, when you’re running government. I want to also say to the staff
that I enjoyed Mr. Buchanan’s leadership as much as you did. He was a colleague. He was
the department head with me. And so, to fill those shoes with Mr. Bailey, now, I’m excited
because I trust this board of trustees. The time that you’ve spent in your selection
process, the care that you’ve given, I’m going to put every trust in and welcome in Mr. Colin
Bailey to be yet another colleague of ours in the official city family. I look forward.
I’m excited to it, because we have a lot of great work to do. This city is on such a great recovery, economically,
for everybody, that there’s going to be even that many more families who are going to enjoy
the institutions that we have here. On that background and with that effort, I just want
to congratulate the board again. Thank you to the staff, I know that the attendance is
going to continue increasing. I know that the contributions to not only
art, but to just the way we live in our city is going to continue because of this institution
and the institutions that you are in charge of. I’m here to just be a part of this experience
to welcome in Mr. Bailey, but also know that your mayor is looking out and being a part
of this institution. I want you to know that I am very happy to
be a part of the board’s effort and the staff’s effort to continue this great institution
and all the wonderful work that you do. It’s my pleasure to be here. I’m enthusiastic about
our museums, Dede, and I will continue making them all the success that they have been for
many, many decades. Thank you very much. [applause] Dede: Thank you very much. I’m also very happy
to say that, on March 12th, we had our millionth visitor of our fiscal year, which doesn’t
end until June 30th. I think we’ll have another record-breaking year. All of our wonderful
shows, this year’s exhibitions, are doing very, very, very well. A week ago, Wednesday, we had over 13,000
visitors in this museum, so we’re really on a roll, as the mayor said. We look forward
to many, many more successes. With Colin as our new leader, I know he’s going to come
up with some other wonderful exhibitions. We now are going to have a videotape which
someone is going to create. Is that correct? [videotape starts playing] Dede: I always say the only kind of art I’m
interested in acquiring is the finest that there is. I feel that our search was the same.
We all agree that the next level for us would be to raise our persona intellectually and
also to look into our curatorial strength. I said that to my selection committee, “What
we have to do is find the finest person there is.” I think that we’ve been able to do that, and
I can’t wait to show you all. Female Narrator: After an exhaustive international
search, the board of trustees has selected Dr. Colin Bailey as the new director of the
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Colin B. Bailey: When I was chairing the National
Endowment’s indemnity panel, I was amazed every meeting. San Francisco had the most
ambitious projects. I was always wondering, “How is it they’ve got Picasso? How is it
they’re doing the Mus����e d’Orsay show? How is it they have these shows?” I was very impressed with this energy, and
really didn’t quite understand how this had happened, but could see that it had happened. Dede: After the tragic death of our director,
John Buchanan, we really had to decide how to reinvent ourselves and how to go to the
next level. I’m absolutely thrilled, because we finally found the right person. To be able
to say that we have a scholar of that stature who is now running our museum is really a
great coup for us. They know your name, and of course what they’ll
do is google you, because they google. Colin: [laughs] Dede: I can’t wait until they do. Female Narrator: You’ll find that Dr. Colin
Bailey studied at Oxford, he held posts at the Getty in Malibu, the Philadelphia Museum
of Art, the Kimbell in Fort Worth, and the National Gallery of Canada. He’s been awarded
the Mitchell Prize for best art history book. Colin: I don’t want to get bound up with one
approach. I want to go back to a very fundamental obligation of the museum, which is to conserve,
to show, to communicate, to educate. Museums are places of enlightenment and enjoyment,
and both of those are important. Female Narrator: Since 2000, Dr. Bailey has
been Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Frick Collection in New York City. Now,
he’s in San Francisco. Colin: For me, it’s something of a dream come
true. I’ve long wanted to be the director of a museum, and a museum whose collections,
whose displays, whose program in the educational, the lots of things I can feel comfortable
with and admire. To be honest, the fact that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in
a way wrap up the Met, the MoMA, the Frick, the Morgan all in one and serve as that folder
for this vibrant community. I’m really excited. I know there’s thorough
support for the types of projects and directions that I hope to introduce. What so excited me on the visits I made to
San Francisco is how welcome you feel when you step into the de Young or the Legion.
That sense of a home, of a place, irregardless of size, is very important, and it was thrilling
to me to see that there’s already such enthusiasm for the audience. Female Narrator: What Dr. Bailey loves the
most is talking about the art itself. Colin: I’m making them accessible and allowing
people to enter them. Female Narrator: Just listen to the way he
enters these works from Tiepolo. Colin: The goddess Flora, who was the goddess
of fertility, of flowers, of spring, became a somewhat licentious goddess for the Floralia,
these games that happened every spring to bring in the regeneration, if you like. This
is a fantastic painting by one of the greatest 18th century artists in any country, Giovanni
Battista Tiepolo, painting at the top of his game. This is the most flamboyant, the most exciting,
the most sensuous picture by this artist, one of the most. The colors are fantastic.
It’s in impeccable state of conservation and preservation, and we do feel that everything
is possible. Life is fully burgeoning. Female Narrator: To Georgia O’Keeffe… Colin: We can’t, when we look at it, but think
of fertility and of femininity, of some sense of regeneration. We can almost smell the perfume. Female Narrator: …to Rembrandt… Colin: By the end of his life, a bankrupt,
his mistress incarcerated, he’s really lost his primacy, but he won’t change the way he
paints. Female Narrator: Some of Dr. Bailey’s observations
about artist parallel his own experience with art museums. Colin: You have to have real commitment of
belief in your vision, in what you’re doing, in what you believe is right. Yes, of course
you have to be flexible and you have to be malleable to a degree, but at a certain point
you keep going.. I think that is the case with these great artists. Female Narrator: We are finally led to another
of the museum’s great treasures, “Three Machines,” by Wayne Thiebaud. Colin: I think one’s first reaction is just
how joyful and how bright and how luminous and how happy one feels looking at these quotidian,
banal objects. A painting perhaps about wanting more than we can have, about consumerism,
but also about childhood pleasures. I love this artist. I’ve seen quite a lot of his
work. When I look at this, I just feel happy. [music] Dede: Thank you all very much. I hope we’ll
see you many, many times in our press conferences and our dealings with our new director, and
the great success that I’m sure that he will bring, further success, to us here at the
Fine Arts Museums. Thank you. [applause]

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