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Jonathan Binstock reappointed Memorial Art Gallery director

June 3, 2019

Jonathan Binstock (Photo / John Myers)

The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester is pleased to announce the reappointment of Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director Jonathan Binstock for another five-year term. Binstock became the seventh director of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester in September 2014. Since then, he has led an expansion of the museum’s permanent collection, special exhibition program, public engagement and outreach efforts, and its annual operating budget.

“I am very pleased that Jonathan Binstock has been reappointed director of the Memorial Art Gallery,” said University of Rochester president Richard Feldman. “His commitment to the museum as a community asset and his dedication to artistic innovation have expanded MAG’s collection and enhanced its work with the rest of the University. I’m confident that under his continued direction, MAG will explore new and exciting ways to build community and enrich lives through the direct experience of art.”

Reflecting Feldman’s sentiments, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Joan Saab continued, “In his first term as director, Jonathan Binstock has brought tremendous energy to the MAG. His innovative programming and art acquisition projects have introduced new audiences to the museum and strengthened ties to the University, the broader Rochester community, and beyond.”

“It is an exciting time to be leading the Memorial Art Gallery,” Binstock added, “and I am having the time of my life. Our collections and programs are expanding, and we are connecting with more and a greater variety of people in the Rochester region and beyond.” Binstock continued, “I am grateful to be working with an incredible team that, for years now, has been consistently reaching new heights in the quality and significance of its work. I am also grateful to have the support of about 1,000 truly dedicated volunteers, including a generous and passionate Board leadership, who understands how important a strong, ambitious, and fun educational arts program is to the vitality of a community.”

During his tenure, new scholarship and exhibition catalogs have accompanied MAG-originated exhibitions such as Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass and Monet’s Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process, the latter traveling to museums nationally. Important paintings and sculptures by artists such as George Condo, Beauford Delaney, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Hung Liu, Mickalene Thomas, and Grayson Perry have been added to MAG’s permanent collection. Binstock created the position of consulting senior curator of media art for the renowned John G. Hanhardt, who has introduced the art of the moving image into the museum’s permanent collection and exhibition program. Major acquisitions include Bill Viola’s complete series of Martyrs, a late Nam June Paik Bakelite Robot, and video installations by Charles Atlas and Sondra Perry.

Binstock is successfully leading an effort to make the museum more accessible and to engage new audiences, including millennials and underserved populations. MAG’s popular MAGsocial and MAGconnect programming, for example, are introducing the museum to new generations and demographics of visitors, and helping to diversify its membership with free family memberships for those who take advantage of the MAGconnect program. MAG’s Expanding Learning Collaboration with Rochester City School District brings about 475 students to MAG on weekly visits over a 10-week period, helping to improve educational and behavioral outcomes for these elementary students and to positively affect the culture of their schools.

Before coming to Rochester, Binstock was senior vice president for modern and contemporary art in the Art Advisory & Finance group of Citi Private Bank. At Citi, he worked with clients and their families in the United States and abroad to build personal art collections, and assessed the quality and value of artworks in the Bank’s art lending program. He joined Citi after more than a decade of curatorial work in museums. An expert in art of the post-WWII era, he was curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and assistant curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Binstock earned a master’s degree and PhD in art history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has taught art history at the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. He lectures regularly in graduate seminars on art and cultural criticism at Columbia University. In July 2015 Binstock completed a residency at the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University.

He is the author and/or curator of, among other books and exhibitions, Meleko Mokgosi: Pax Kaffraria, published by the Hammer Museum, UCLA (2014); Sam Gilliam: A Retrospective (2005); the 47th (2002) and 48th (2005) Corcoran Biennials; Andy Warhol: Social Observer (2000), and two exhibitions devoted to the late and influential artist Jeremy Blake (2000 and 2007). Most recently he was the co-curator with Josef Helfenstein of The Music of Color. Sam Gilliam, 1967–73, a major exhibition that was on view at the Kunstmuseum Basel, June–September 2018, and simultaneously with the Art Basel art fair.

He is a peer reviewer for the US General Services Administration Percent-for-Art Art in Architecture Program; a scholarly consultant for the Visual Art Gallery of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and of the Board of Trustees of the American Federation of Arts. He is also an executive champion for Sankofa, the University of Rochester’s resource group for African American staff.

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