RISD Museum Appoints New Director

The Rhode Island School of Design, which loyal UnBeige readers will recall boasts budding “artrepreneurs” and President John Maeda, is welcoming new leadership to its museum. John W. Smith (pictured), who currently serves as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, has been appointed director of the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design (a.k.a. RISD Museum), the institution announced today. He’ll begin work this fall.

Among Smith’s most notable achievements at the Archives: expanding the exhibitions and publications program, integrating contributions of contemporary artists into the programming, and raising nearly $15 million. He also acquired the Leo Castelli Gallery archive (swoon!) and led a project to digitize the Archives’ collections and redesign its website. And did we mention he’s only been there for about five years? Smith’s previous experience includes 11 years with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. “This appointment signals a new era at the Museum,” said Merrill Sherman, chair of RISD’s Board of Trustees, in a statement announcing the hire. “John Smith’s contemporary flair and his sensitivity to the past are sure to thrive here.” Home to freshly restored galleries showcasing collections of ancient art, and medieval and early Renaissance art, the Museum at RISD is currently showcasing a bit of its own flair with “Cocktail Culture,” a fizzy exhibition that explores the social ritual of the cocktail hour through the lens of fashion and design. We’ll drink to that!