Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, said he plans to step down from his role next year, limiting himself to more than 14 years leading the organization and its international affiliates.
Armstrong, 73, whose tenure includes weathering the pandemic and responding to calls for change around racial inequality, both internally and on the museum’s walls, announced this move in a interview with The Financial Times was published on Friday.
“In the spring of next year,” he said in the interview, “I will be leaving the museum. Then it will be almost 15 years and that is a long time. The board is rejuvenated and active – it’s a good moment. “
In a press release, the museum said that before Armstrong steps down in 2023, he will work with the board to find a successor.
Under his leadership, Armstrong has been tasked in recent years with meeting united effort and an objection about what members of the museum’s curators call “an unequal work environment that permits racism, white supremacy, and other discriminatory practices.” Armstrong responded to requests for change by initiating a conversation with those in charge, saying he sees it as an opportunity to become a more diverse and equal organization.
The museum then approved a plan to address those complaints, making it one of the first major cultural institutions to provide insight into the broader diversification effort amid industry-wide calls for change. The plan includes promises to strengthen policies around reporting discrimination and a new committee tasked with examining the organization’s exhibits and acquisitions through the lens of fairness and diversity.
After one of the museum’s top administrators, Nancy Spector, resigned over allegations of racism, the museum took the name Naomi Beckwith to succeed her, make her organization first black deputy director and chief curator. (After a black curator, Chaédria LaBouvier, accused Spector of racism, an independent organization investigation conclusion there is no evidence that the person in charge has been “disadvantaged on the basis of her race.”) Again Leadership the next shakeup later that year, when the billionaire collector J. Tomilson Hill was appointed chair of the board, and writer Claudia Rankine was elected the second black female commissioner. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Hill said Armstrong has skillfully guided the museum through the pandemic, calling him a “stable and encouraging presence.”
This announcement follows news of a major change in leadership at the Metropolitan Museum, where Daniel H. Weiss said he would resign as chairman and chief executive officer in June 2023.
Armstrong became museum director in 2008, succeeding Thomas Krens, an expansionist leader who turned Guggenheim into a global brand with Guggenheim Bilbao. Armstrong is from the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where he has led for ten years. Interviewed after being appointed director, Armstrong said he wanted to present shows that highlight the work of young artists, which he often does.
Armstrong also oversaw a particularly tumultuous period a few years ago as Guggenheim looked to expand overseas with a new museum in Abu Dhabi. The project was met with Demonstration and demands that workers be paid and treated fairly, led to promises from Armstrong that the museum is deeply committed to labor issues. The long-delayed project is slated for completion in 2025, after Armstrong’s departure.
Another big change under Armstrong took place earlier this year, when the Guggenheim went quiet remove the name Sackler from an educational center on the family’s relationship to the opioid crisis.
Armstrong said in a statement: “As a leadership team, we have listened, learned, and adapted to meet the changing dynamics of our programmes, brands, audiences and sponsors. ours. “I look forward to watching the Guggenheim community continue to grow and become a catalyst for creative thinking and transformative artistic experiences long after I have left.”