he American Alliance of Museums announced today that its president, Ford W. Bell, will step down at the end of May 2015, after eight years at the helm. During that time he oversaw a rebranding and restructuring of the AAM, which sets standards and advocates for museums.
Bell was vocal on a number of museum issues during his tenure, including the threatened deaccessioning of works from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which he forcefully rebutted. (Here’s an October 2013 op-ed he penned on that topic.)
The AAM’s release touted some of his achievements:
…Bell worked with the board to lead AAM through a strategic planning process that resulted in the organization becoming the American Alliance of Museums in September 2012. For 106 years, it had been known as the American Association of Museums. This re-branding also established the group’s priorities, captured in the tagline adopted with the debut of the Alliance: Champion Museums, Nurture Excellence. In addition to advocacy, this commitment included development of programs, tools and services to support museum professionals in their jobs, a need identified in member research. A streamlined membership structure, following extensive member surveys, has led to a dramatic spike in membership, strengthening the financial stability of the organization. Since the launch of the Alliance in September 2012, AAM has seen a 48 percent increase in membership and now has the highest number of museum members in its history.
Before coming to the AAM, which is based in Washington, D.C., Bell worked as a veterinarian and chaired the board of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He’s now headed back to Minneapolis.