Birmingham Museum of Art Names Graham Boettcher Its New Director

Graham Boettcher in front of Bierstadt painting.
Graham Boettcher in front of Bierstadt painting.
Graham Boettcher, the Birmingham Museum of Art’s new director, in front of one of his favorite works in the collection, Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, 1865.

Graham Boettcher has been appointed director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, following a six-month national search by the Board of Trustees. He replaces Gail Andrews, who is retiring after 21 years.

Known for his amiable personality and enthusiastic scholarship, Boettcher (Betch-er) joined the BMA in 2006 for a two-year stint as the Curatorial Fellow in American Art. At the end of the two years, the role of Curator of American Art was created and endowed, and Boettcher was hired. He was promoted to Chief Curator in 2014 and to Deputy Director in 2016. He was a 2014 Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership, and has been a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Curators since 2010, currently serving as its Vice President of Finance.

“Over the course of the interview process and indeed over the last decade of his service to the Birmingham Museum of Art, Graham has proven himself as a distinguished scholar of art history, a dedicated steward of our collection, and a highly regarded community leader who is committed to realizing the mission and vision of our prized institution,” says James K. Outland, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Boettcher says, “I’m thrilled to serve as the BMA’s next director and lead the institution in the coming years especially as we explore new and dynamic ways to engage and serve the public. I am grateful to the Board for extending to me this opportunity, to my predecessor Gail Andrews for her exemplary dedication to the museum, and to the BMA’s exceptionally talented staff for continuously striving for the highest standards of excellence.”

Boettcher was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington. He received a B. and PhD from Yale University, and an MA from the University of Washington. He was a curatorial fellow at the Yale University Art Gallery, and held research fellowships at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation Summer Residency in Giverny, France.

Among the exhibitions Boettcher has curated are “Prague Nights: Czech Modern Art from the Hascoe Collection” (2007), “A Masterpiece in Our Midst: Robert S. Duncanson’s A Dream of Italy” (2010), and “A Stitch in Time: Southern Quilts in the African-American Tradition” (2011). He has also contributed to the exhibition catalogues American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States, 1820-1880 (Tate Britain, 2002); Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and His Worlds (Yale Center for British Art, 2007), among others.

In 2015, Boettcher co-curated (with Kelli Morgan) “Black Like Who: Exploring Race and Representation,” an exhibition that considered who renders imagery of blackness in American art and contemplated the various reasons why. He is currently working on an exhibition exploring the Viking Revival in American art.

He assumes his new role on September 20 and will be tasked with finding a replacement for himself as well as Wassan Al-Khudhairi, curator of the popular and ongoing “Third Space” exhibition who is now chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

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