After Just Two Stress-Filled Years on the Job, Seattle Art Museum Director Derrick Cartwright Announces Resignation


The old saying goes that there are only two things for certain in life: death and taxes. If you were able to include an addendum on there, we’d also submit “that there will be dramatic goings-ons at the Seattle Art Museum.” It’s now been years of financial insecurity for the museum, originating with the death of Washington Mutual and new tenant JP Morgan Chase up and leaving SAM with an empty new building and $60 million of debt, which has resulted in layoffs, pay reductions and closures, in addition to finding it had no choice but to borrow from its endowment to pay its bills. There have been positives as well, such as being saved by retailer Nordstrom, who have since taken up all that empty space, and reports of record attendance for some of its exhibitions, just when it needed people the most. Now it’s been announced that the museum’s director, Derrick Cartwright, has resigned, with plans to leave effective June 30th. The official release on the museum’s site is short and to the point, but the Seattle Times reports that his exit caught many off guard, particularly given that he had only stepped into the position less than two years ago. Cartwright himself hasn’t said what he has planned next, but here’s the SAM’s board president, Maggie Walker‘s statement to the Times:

Walker said she had several conversations with Cartwright. “He just told us he’s ready for a break and he wants to focus on some of his own personal art passions,” Walker said. “It really has been a tough job and he has worked extraordinarily hard. He has been here practically every day of the last year.”

Walker praised Cartwright for having been a “terrific ambassador to the community for us” and for leaving the museum “in great shape after a hard two years.”