Milwaukee Art Museum -- Info

Successful Museum Director Appointed to Lead Milwaukee Art Museum


Posted on February 19th, 2008

Milwaukee, WI, January 3— An experienced and highly successful museum director and arts leader has been selected to become the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, it was announced today. Following an international search for a new director of the Milwaukee Art Museum conducted by Korn/Ferry International, the Museum’s Board of Directors has appointed Daniel T. Keegan, a Wisconsin native, to take over leadership of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Keegan joins the Museum after a successful career at several arts organizations, most recently as executive director of the San Jose Museum of Art in California. Keegan will succeed David Gordon who announced in May of 2007 that he will be leaving in 2008.

“We are very excited and pleased to announce that Dan Keegan will be coming home to Wisconsin to head the Milwaukee Art Museum and that he is ready to lead this organization to new levels of artistic excellence and service to our community and state,” said Kent Velde, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors. “Dan comes to us as a recognized arts and community leader who has also served in higher education leadership positions; he has proven skills and significant successes as a museum director; and he knows how to market a museum and build public, governmental and philanthropic support. In short, he is the total package and joins us at the perfect time.”

“The Milwaukee Art Museum has achieved national and international recognition for the architectural brilliance of the new addition designed by Santiago Calatrava, and has also won acclaim for some of its recent exhibitions-both in this country and abroad,” said Velde. “It is time for the Museum to continue building on the artistic excellence of its exhibitions and programs to match the great potential envisioned by a community that built this wonderful Museum. All of us believe that Dan Keegan is the right leader at the right time for this Museum’s future.”

Keegan, 58, has been executive director of the San Jose Museum of Art since 2000. He successfully managed the museum through a very challenging economic downturn while completing an endowment campaign of $7.1 million and significantly increasing the size of the permanent collection through gifts and purchases valued at over $8 million. He also increased annual museum attendance by over 113 percent to more than 200,000 visitors since 2001.

Working with the San Jose museum’s board of trustees, Keegan developed a new strategic plan for the museum and initiated a capital campaign that raised $12 million in pledges, as well as major support from the City of San Jose and the Redevelopment Agency of San Jose.

Keegan was also a founding board member of Zero One San Jose (www.01sj.org), an international biennial of media art first held in 2006 and planned again for 2008. The event included a conference of international artists, a Pacific Rim Summit, major exhibitions of new international art and a Global Leadership Forum of international city representatives presenting on topics related to creative urban center planning and development. He also established an innovative, community-based summer education program called Summer Art Studio for young people.

“I’ve seen what has been achieved here in Milwaukee and believe this is a tremendous opportunity to work at a leading Museum of Art and with a wonderful community building on a solid and sustainable base of support,” said Keegan. “It’s also a great honor to come back to Wisconsin, to Milwaukee, and to direct a Museum that has established itself nationally as a cultural leader with a track record of excellent exhibitions and a great art collection.

“It’s very exciting to return to a place that is near and dear to my heart,” said Keegan. “My family is here in Wisconsin and my wife, Janné, and I come back for visits each year. I look forward to becoming involved in the community and being active in the arts movement in the state.”

Prior to his work in San Jose, Keegan served as executive director of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo., from 1997 to 2000. He directed all operations of the museum, including fundraising, exhibitions, education and facilities, coordinating a long range planning and a fiscal strategies effort with his board. Under his leadership, the museum doubled its attendance to 130,000 visitors per year and increased membership by 300 percent.

Keegan also served as chairman of the West Virginia Wesleyan College Department of Art from 1992 to 1997 and was an associate professor and coordinator of the Department of Art at Avila College in Kansas City, Mo. He has a master of fine art’s degree from Southern Illinois University and a bachelor of art’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. A native of Green Bay, Wis., he was educated at Annunciation and St. Agnes elementary schools and graduated from Premontre High School.

Images and Interviews Available upon Request.

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