Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Appoint Thomas P. Campbell as Director and CEO

Photo: Scott Rudd. Courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (October 30, 2018) – The Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) and the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (COFAM) today appointed Thomas P. Campbell as the new director and CEO of the largest public arts institution in Northern California, effective November 1, 2018.

As head of FAMSF, which comprise the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, Mr. Campbell will oversee a wide-ranging curatorial program and education programs and will manage a staff of more than 500.

"I am deeply gratified to take up the responsibility of leading the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,” Campbell said.  “It is a great privilege to become part of an institution with such outstanding curatorial expertise and famously loyal audiences and supporters, and I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to continue the great work done by my friend and predecessor Max Hollein. I am eager to begin collaborating with the Trustees, the staff, and the entire cultural network of San Francisco.”

Mr. Campbell served as Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2017, having joined the Met as a curator in 1995. During his tenure at the Met, he led a revitalization and modernization achieved through award-winning exhibitions and publications, major capital projects, and historic donations of works of art. Attendance grew by more than 50 percent to a record seven million visitors a year, with audiences that are now more diverse than ever before.

Most recently, from November 2017 through October 2018, he was a Getty/Rothschild Fellow with residencies at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and at Waddesdon Manor in the UK, undertaking independent study of the impact of global changes on museums and cultural life in general.

“We are thrilled to be able to name a new director of such accomplishment to lead the next chapter in our institution’s history,” said Carl Pascarella, a member of the FAMSF search committee. “We conducted a thorough international search, reviewing an extensive and diverse group of highly qualified candidates and interviewing the finalists over a period of months. In the end, our choice was clear and unanimous.” Belva Davis, another member of the search committee, added, “In Tom, we have found an exceptional director to lead the Fine Arts Museums in an era of rapid technological change, to reach non-traditional audiences, and who understands a heightened importance for the civic and educational role of museums in a turbulent world.”

FAMSF Board President Dede Wilsey stated, “Tom’s impressive scholarship and curatorial achievements, his fundraising expertise, and his record of engaging new audiences make him the right leader for FAMSF right now.  I look forward to a successful partnership.”

Max Hollein, former Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco added, “Tom has been a great and esteemed colleague over many years and I am delighted for the Fine Arts Museums to have chosen him as its next director. I look forward to partnering with the de Young and the Legion of Honor in many ways under Tom‘s leadership. Both museums are extraordinary institutions that I obviously care about deeply and that will certainly continue to thrive significantly under its new director.”

Over his thirty-year career, Mr. Campbell has dedicated his life to the preservation, study and promotion of art as a gateway to human understanding. A distinguished art historian who was educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, University of London, he joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995 as an assistant curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and supervising curator of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center. As curator, he conceived and organized the acclaimed exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (New York, 2007; Madrid, 2008). The 2002 exhibition was named "Exhibition of the Year" by Apollo Magazine and its catalogue won the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award (College Art Association) for distinguished exhibition catalogue in the history of art (2003). His book, Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court, a reappraisal of the art and patronage of the era, was published in 2007.

During his tenure as Director, he elevated the Met’s national and international profile through conservation exchanges in the Middle East and India, ambitious loan exhibitions in China, Japan and Brazil, the launching of a biannual global museum directors’ colloquium, and a new international donor council.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young museum 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 2005. Reflecting an active conversation among cultures, perspectives and time periods, the collections on display include 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. It offers unique insight into the art historical, political, and social movements of the previous 4,000 years of human history, with holdings including 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 Contacts
Larry Kamer | 415.290.7240 | lkamer@kamergroup.com 
Miriam Newcomer | 415.750.3554 | mnewcomer@famsf.org