PHILADELPHIA — Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, announced July 30 that he plans to retire in early 2022 after 13 years of service at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rub, who will turn 70 in early March, has led the museum since September 2009.
During his tenure, the museum has undergone a significant transformation. A major phase of the Facilities Master Plan designed by Frank Gehry, the “Core Project,” was completed in late spring 2021 after a decade of planning and four years of construction. Hailed as a thoughtful and nuanced response to the architectural character of the museum’s landmark main building, the Core Project represents the largest increase in public and gallery space to this facility since it was opened to the public in 1928. Rub also initiated several other capital improvements, among them the renovation of the Rodin Museum and its gardens, which have significantly improved the presentation of the museum’s permanent collections and enhanced the experience of its visitors.
Rub led the development of a new strategic plan for the museum in 2013, focusing on several critically important goals: engaging new audiences both on site and online through innovative exhibitions and programs; activating the museum’s world-renowned collection through new installations, publications, and digital initiatives; enhancing the visitor experience through improvements to the museum’s facilities; and strengthening its commitment to civic engagement. During his tenure, the demographics of the museum’s visitors became much younger and more diverse, a trend that is expected to resume as the city recovers from the global pandemic. In addition, the museum significantly developed its collections; expanded educational programming, especially for families; prioritized community engagement; and made significant advances in scholarship and conservation.
“It has been a great honor to serve as the director of one of this country’s finest art museums,” Rub wrote to the staff and Board of Trustees in announcing his retirement, “and to play a role in strengthening its collections and programs as well as renewing our landmark main building to make it ready for another century of service to the community. It has also been a privilege to work with a talented and dedicated staff and with a group of trustees, led successively by board chairs Gerry Lenfest, Connie Williams, and Leslie Anne Miller, whose generosity and commitment to fulfilling the mission of this institution is — and will remain — the very definition of good stewardship.”
The Board of Trustees will immediately initiate an international search for Rub’s successor. To ensure a smooth transition, after stepping down at the end of January, Rub will continue to serve the institution on a consulting basis until the museum’s next director is in place. He will also serve as co-curator for the upcoming exhibition Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas, when it opens at the museum next April.
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