The High Museum of Art has selected its new director. Randall Suffolk, currently director and president of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, will assume his new post on November 2. He replaces Michael E. Shapiro, who will step down on July 31, 2015, after 15 years as the High’s leader.
Suffolk joined the Philbrook Museum in 2007 and is credited with boosting the museum’s engagement with its community, something that the High has been working to improve in recent years. Under Suffolk’s leadership, the Philbrook saw a 63-percent increase in attendance, a 293-percent growth in educational program participation; and a 22-percent rise in membership. Those efforts were recognized by a 2013 study conducted by independent researchers Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) that named the Philbrook as one of six organizations that contribute greatly to their communities while fostering the financial capacity to thrive.
In a press statement, High Museum board chair Charles Abney said: “Rand is a visionary director who understands how to create dynamic connections between museums and the audiences they serve. His proven track record of affecting real change with measurable impact makes him an ideal choice to build upon and deepen the High’s strong relationship with the city of Atlanta, and the greater Southeast.”
At the Philbrook, Suffolk oversaw an administrative reorganization that created new education, curatorial and communications departments. He also spearheaded the Philbrook Downtown, a 30,000-square-foot satellite facility designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, which opened in 2013, which houses galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art.
Similar to the High’s partnerships with the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art, the Philbrook has forged partnerships with such international institutions as the Vitra Design Museum and the Vilcek Foundation, as well as over 30 regional organizations.
From 1999 through 2007, Suffolk was director of the Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls, NY, where he had previously held positions as deputy director and curator. He earned his master’s degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s in higher education administration from Columbia University, and a BA from Connecticut College.