Mitchell Kahan, who has been the director of the Akron Art Museum for 26 years, and as such has held one of the longest running tenures as director of an art museum, will step down from his position on January 2, 2013.
It was also announced that Janice Driesbach will be assuming the role of the museum’s chief curator on Aug. 20. Ms. Driesbach comes to the museum from the Dayton Art Institute, where she was director and CEO.
During his time at the Akron Museum, Mr. Kahan spearheaded the museum’s $35 million renovation and expansion, which was completed in 2007 and saw the museum more than triple its size from the 25,000 square feet of the original building built in 1899, which was formerly a post office. Its endowment grew from roughly $2 million to more than $20 million and Mr. Kahan raised nearly $5 million in endowment funds for art purchases of which there were none when he joined the museum in 1986.
Notable shows during Mr. Kahan’s time as director were the controversial 1988 exhibition of the work of African-American painter Robert Colescott, an exhibition on the history of women photographers and renowned exhibitions on Ab Ex painters Hans Hofmann and Lee Krasner. Currently on view at the museum is “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui,” which will be traveling to the Brooklyn Museum in February.
“This is our 90th anniversary year and we right now have one of the most important artists on view,” Mr. Kahan told the Akron Beacon Journal, “and I thought, ‘Let’s go out on a high note.'”
Mr. Kahan, who will assume the role of Director Emeritus at the museum, will continue living in the Akron area and plans to pursue other interests such as managing foundations, art journalism and painting.
Congratulations to Mr. Kahan.