The North Carolina Museum of Art’s director Lawrence J. Wheeler has announced his intention to retire following 24 years of service. Wheeler plans to end his tenure at the museum in November 2018.
Wheeler was appointed director of the museum in 1994. Prior to that, he was an assistant director at the Cleveland Museum of Art and deputy secretary at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
As director, Wheeler helped bring national recognition to the North Carolina Museum in Raleigh, in part by way of his efforts to grow the museum’s collection. In 2009, he secured a gift of 29 Auguste Rodin sculptures from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. Another notable gift came from the collection of Jim and Mary Patton, including work by Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Motherwell, and Frank Stella, among others. Wheeler was also responsible for overseeing major renovations at the museum in 2010, including the construction of an additional building as well as a sculpture garden and reflecting pools.
In a statement, Dan Gottlieb, the director of planning and design for those renovations, said of Wheeler, “His complete trust in the vision and creative journey shaped the NCMA campus into the community gathering space it is today.” To this, Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s governor, added, “North Carolinians of all walks of life have access to one of the most renowned art museums in the country thanks to Larry Wheeler’s visionary leadership.”