Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Announce Key Appointments in Curatorial, Exhibition Design, and IT

Photography by Gary Sexton

SAN FRANCISCO — The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the “Museums”) today announced the appointment of Emily Beeny as Curator in Charge of European Paintings after an extensive international search. The role will oversee the Museums’ holdings of more than 800 paintings from the 14th to early 20th centuries as well as the development of original exhibition programming.

Also announced were the additions of Paul Peterson, who joined the institution’s leadership team as the  Director of Information Technology, and Alejandro Stein, who now serves as the Director of Exhibition Design.

“We are delighted to announce the appointments of these three leaders of their respective fields,” states Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Together they will help us shape a new and important chapter at the de Young and Legion of Honor.”  

Emily Beeny holds a PhD from Columbia University and is a specialist in French paintings and drawings of the 17th through 19th centuries. She joins the Museums from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Recent exhibitions organized by Beeny include Manet and Modern Beauty (2019–2020), co-organized by the Getty and the Art Institute of Chicago, which was the first exhibition devoted to the final years of the artist’s life; and Poussin and the Dance (2021–2022), co-organized by the Getty and the National Gallery, London. She is a founding member of the Getty Museum’s Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion Task Force and sits on the vetting committee for 19th-century European paintings at TEFAF Maastricht.

Prior to joining the Getty Museum as Associate Curator of Drawings in 2016, Beeny was Associate Curator of European Art at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (2014–2016) and Assistant Curator of European Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2012–2014). She has published and lectured widely on French art from the 17th to 20th centuries and is the author of a children’s book, Hector the Collector, about collecting and museums. Her first day at the Museums is July 1, 2021. 

Alejandro Stein joined the Museums as Director of Exhibition Design on April 1, 2021. Stein is an architect specializing in museological environments. He has worked with institutions such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he most recently contributed to the redesign of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. Prior to his independent practice, Stein worked as Senior Exhibition Designer at the Met, where he designed several exhibitions including Visitors to Versailles: 1682–1789; Jewelry: The Body Transformed; Siah Armajani: Follow This Line; Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee; and Sahel: Art and Empires on The Shores of the Sahara. Stein holds a master of architecture degree from Columbia University.

As Director of Exhibition Design, Stein will oversee the presentation of the Museums' extensive exhibitions program and work with the curatorial and conservation teams to develop a vision and strategy for the future of the permanent-collection galleries at the de Young and Legion of Honor.

Paul Peterson joined the Museums on February 22, 2021, as Director of Information Technology and is a key member of the leadership team. In this role, Peterson is responsible for understanding how the Museums use technology, applications, and systems; focusing on the evolution of our systems, applications, and the corresponding business initiatives; updating systems; and leading the IT team in best practices, processes and strategies in support of the Museums’ ever-evolving technology needs.

Prior to joining the Museums, Peterson served as Practice Director for Managed Services at Redapt (2019-2020). Prior to that he was Director of Information Technology at Seattle Goodwill Industries (2015–2019). 

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It holds the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and, like that structure, was modeled after the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, in Paris. The museum, designed by George Applegarth, opened in 1924 on a bluff in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Media Contact
Helena Nordstrom / hnordstrom@famsf.org / 415 465 3531