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New Director for Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum

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The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, has selected Erik H. Neil as its new director and president, effective October 6.

In a press statement, Neil said: “I am looking forward to living in Norfolk. It’s rare to have an institution of the Chrysler’s stature in a community of this size. I hope to be able to leverage that stature to see that the Chrysler Museum has both great local impact and a broader stage of influence.”

Since 2010, Neil, who is 50, has been director of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. Among his accomplishments there are increases in donations, membership, and fundraising, including a $2-million challenge graft of gifts and pledges. He was also responsible for the commissioning of a work by James Turrrell and the collaboration with local African American leadership in Talbot County, where Frederick Douglass was born, to establish an annual Juneteenth celebration.

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Neil received a BA in modern European and American history from Princeton University in 1986, and an MA (1991) and PhD (1995) in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University. In 1999, he became director of the Newcomb Art Gallery of Tulane University in New Orleans, where he played a significant role in securing the safety of the collection before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

He briefly served as director of exhibition and programs at the American Federation of Arts in New York, before assuming the top post at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York. Other accomplishments include earning a certificate in museum management (2003) from the Getty Leadership Institute.

At the Chrysler, Neil replaces Bill Hennessey, who is retiring after 17 years in the position.