Lyndel King. Photo: Rik Sferra.

Weisman Art Museum Director Lyndel King to Step Down After Forty Years

After four decades at the helm of the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, director and chief curator Lyndel King will step down in 2020. She announced her departure two years early so that the institution will have enough time to find a suitable successor and raise additional funds in order to endow the directorship position.

“I am planning my departure from the museum because WAM is in a great place,” King said in a statement. “We have a fabulous team that faces the future with energy, creativity, sensitivity, and intelligence. I am proud of what WAM has become and want to make sure that it continues to thrive.” She also called the institution’s current capital campaign her “final gift” to the museum.

King joined the museum in 1978 and assumed the directorship in 1981. During her tenure, King spearheaded the institution’s move from the fourth floor of the university’s Northrop Auditorium to the striking $18 million stainless steel and brick building designed by Frank Gehry. Located on the school’s East Bank Campus, the Weisman Museum—which was named for the Minneapolis-born, Los Angeles–based collector Frederick Weisman, who donated more than $4 million to the project—was the renowned architect’s first major commission.

“From the very beginning, Lyndel promoted the need for a world-class university to have a world-class art museum on its campus,” Gehry said. “She understood that the arts were a critical part of students’ education, and she dedicated herself to making this dream into a reality. She has left a mark on the University of Minnesota’s campus that few others can claim. I got to be part of that process with her, and I can tell you that the Weisman Art Museum exists because of her indomitable spirit, her intelligence, and her perseverance.”

King has also overseen more than two hundred exhibitions, welcomed nearly two million visitors to the museum since the opening of its new venue in 1993, and added more than 16,000 works to its collection. She also worked with Gehry again in 2011, when he built an 8,100-square-foot expansion for the institution, which included a new gallery dedicated to ceramics.

A pioneer in her field, King was one of the first women art museum directors to be elected to membership in the Association of Art Museum Directors in 1980, later chairing two committees and serving on its board. She was also a board member and vice president of the American Alliance of Museums, the largest museum organization in the United States. More recently, King received the 2018 President’s Award for Outstanding Service from the university and has been awarded an Affiliated Fellowship with the American Academy in Rome.