July 28, 2010 — Gretchen Dietrich, an innovative museum professional and a skilled administrator, has been selected as the Executive Director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA), effective August 1, 2010, pending notification of the Academic Senate and approval of the Board of Trustees.
Following an extensive national search conducted by Management Consultants for the Arts in Stamford, Connecticut, the search committee, comprised of both University of Utah and Salt Lake community members, unanimously recommended Dietrich for the appointment based on her articulate and ardent vision for the UMFA in its dual role as both a university and a state art museum. Marcia Price, member of the search committee and benefactor of the UMFA, said she and her husband John are “elated with the choice of Gretchen as the executive director of the museum. She has the intelligence, the expertise and the ability to take the museum to the next level.”
Dietrich joined the UMFA staff in 2008 as director of public programs and curatorial affairs, and has served as the interim director of the museum since April 2009.
Raymond Tymas-Jones, associate vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, says of Dietrich, “She is a proven administrator with an appetite for improving practices and she has a track record for making museums accessible to a diverse public. She is knowledgeable and has successfully demonstrated her potential as an astute museum executive.”
Dietrich, 42, holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, and a master’s degree in art history from Temple University, Philadelphia. She has 20 years experience in the museum field and has held positions of increasing responsibility at some of the finest art museums in the country. After beginning her career in the Special Exhibitions Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dietrich shifted the focus of her early career to the field of museum education and public programming, and took the position of museum teacher in the Education Department at the same institution.. She subsequently worked as assistant curator of education at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she ran an innovative community connections program for neighborhood schools funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In 1999, Dietrich was named director of education at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., where she was responsible for an ambitious museum education program. In addition, as a member of the senior management team, she was active in all areas of museum planning, including successful fund raising and working with donors and the museum’s board of trustees. In 2004, Dietrich became the executive director of the Utah Museums Association, a nonprofit umbrella organization that advocates for the state’s museums.
Dietrich maintains a professional standing in the museum and nonprofit fields, and speaks frequently at national and regional professional conferences on subjects ranging from strategic planning, succession planning, and museum education to interpretation. She sits on the board of trustees of the Utah Nonprofits Association, whose mission is to serve as a resource for Utah’s diverse nonprofit institutions.
“I am honored to be named executive director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, one of the great cultural assets of the Intermountain West, and am eager to build on the strengths of its terrific collections, exhibitions and educational programs,” Dietrich says. “Working together with the University of Utah administration, the UMFA’s accomplished staff and its dedicated advisory board and volunteer groups, I look forward to strengthening the museum’s relationship with the university community and our diverse statewide audiences. I am profoundly optimistic about our future and the vital role the Museum can play in the cultural life of our region,” Dietrich said.
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is Utah’s primary cultural resource for global visual arts. The museum collects, exhibits, interprets and preserves a comprehensive, encyclopedic collection of over 18,000 art objects. In February 2005, the Utah state legislature declared the UMFA an official state institution, confirming its important role as a center for art, culture and education in Utah.