Kevin Consey, who helmed several major art institutions, including, most recently, the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) from 1999 to 2008, died on Wednesday at age 68. A representative for BAMPFA said that he died “following a long illness.” Consey is known for his role in overseeing the institution’s capital campaign for the museum’s current home, which was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and opened in downtown Berkeley in 2016.
Having begun his career as director of the art gallery at his alma mater, Hofstra University in New York, Consey took the top post at the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas in 1980. There, he led the $12 million transformation of the historic Lone Star Brewery into a museum space. Nearly a decade later, while directing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Consey oversaw a $72 million building and endowment campaign and would go on to open a 220,000-square-foot facility designed by Josef Paul Kleihues at the institution in 1996.
Consey joined BAMPFA in 1999 and helped the university find a site and architect for its planned new building. He also guided the institution through a period of major growth in its programs and collection, with exhibitions of work by Joe Brainard, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Paul Kos, Richard Misrach, Bruce Nauman, and more organized during his tenure. Additionally, thousands of works were added to the museum’s art and film holdings while he was director.
After he retired from BAMPFA in 2008, Consey worked as a consultant for museums undertaking capital projects and served as an adjunct professor of museum studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.
In a statement, BAMPFA director and chief curator Lawrence Rinder said that “the legacy of Kevin Consey’s leadership at BAMPFA resonates to this day among our visitors, supporters, and staff, all of whom have benefited from his creative and aspirational vision,” adding that Consey “laid the groundwork for BAMPFA’s sustained vibrancy in the twenty-first century, expanding the national impact of our collections and programs and building the strong institutional foundation that made our new home possible.”