The organization that oversees San Francisco’s de Young and Legion of Honor museums today announced it has appointed a New York-based art historian as its new director.

Colin Bailey will be the new director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, overseeing 550 employees at the two museums in Golden Gate Park and Lincoln Park.

Bailey, who most recently served as deputy director at The Frick Collection in New York City, will take over effective June 1, said Dede Wilsey, president of the Fine Art Museums’ board of trustees.

The organization had been without a director since December 2011 when John Buchanan Jr. died after a battle with cancer.

Wilsey said Bailey was “known internationally as a scholar and someone who would elevate the museum in that direction.”

Bailey earned his doctorate in art history at Oxford University in England and has earned a Mitchell Prize for best art history book, according to museum officials.

Bailey said in a pre-recorded statement that he is excited to take over as director.

“I’ve long wanted to be a director of a museum,” he said, adding that he will seek to display artwork that is “accessible and allowing people to enter them.”

Wilsey said that Bailey was chosen by a 13-member selection committee from the board of trustees that began its search in January 2012 and made a decision a year later.


Frick’s Bailey takes over Fine Arts Museums helm [Chron]
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco appoints Colin Bailey new director [Biz Times]
New Director Selected for Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco [NYT]
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco officially names Colin Bailey new director [Ex]
New museum director overshadowed by controversy [ABC7]

However, the organization had to wait several weeks until Bailey could notify his New York museum of his planned departure, she said.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was also on hand for today’s announcement and lauded the organization for bringing fine art to the city.

“This is an incredible part of what our city is,” Lee said. “It keeps the tremendous amounts of visitors coming to our city.”

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is ranked fourth in the U.S. among art museums for total number of visitors and provides education programs for more than 260,000 children and families annually, according to museum officials.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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