Longtime Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Gary Tinterow, 58, has been named director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Renowned for his astute scholarship, Tinterow has been with the Met for 29 years, serving since 2008 as chairman of the department of 19th-century, modern and contemporary art. Among his initiatives at the Met have been commissioning rooftop projects from contemporary artists like Cai Guo-Qiang, Frank Stella, Jeff Koons and Mike & Doug Starn, making the museum a popular summer art destination. Among the recent exhibitions he has curated or co-organized are “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (2010), the Francis Bacon retrospective (2009) and a show of new paintings by Neo Rauch (2007).
Tinterow’s name has often been bandied about whenever prominent museum directorships have become available, including that of the Metropolitan. (Tapestries specialist Thomas Campbell was appointed to the position in 2008, sparking speculation of Tinterow’s departure.) He takes the helm of the MFAH as the museum prepares for a major expansion, and departs the Met as it readies to expand into the Whitney Museum’s Marcel Breuer Building. According to Richard D. Kinder, chair of the MFAH search committee, one of Tinterow’s mandates is to make the museum more encyclopedic.
Speaking to the Houston Chronicle about his decision to take the post, Tinterow said: “New York has tremendous resources, and the Met is the greatest museum in the world. But Houston has infinite opportunity.” Touching on the culture fatigue New York can engender, he commented on the number of large institutions competing for “mental space.”
Tinterow, a Houston native, replaces Peter Marzio, who died in December 2010.